While an early cold snap may have caused misery for some across B.C., the deep freeze has ice wine producers in the province's Okanagan region smiling.
Dozens of grape pickers braved the early morning cold in Kelowna Thursday to harvest ice wine grapes, among them Tantalus winemaker David Paterson.
"We're pretty used to the cold. Everyone just rugs up and keeps warm by working hard," says Paterson, who hit the ground with his crew at 4:30 a.m. PT.
Ice wine producers need a sustained temperature of below minus eight degrees to harvest the frozen grapes, and Paterson says Thursday morning’s conditions were ideal.
"Perfect weather for ice wine. Not minus 15 or minus 20, just on that minus eight, minus nine borderline, so it's quite pleasant really."
Once the grapes are picked, there's a rush to press the fruit while still frozen.
"Basically we want all the water in the grapes to stay as ice crystals and all we are getting is the nectar and the concentrated sugars and acids and flavors in the grape and we're leaving behind that frozen water," explained Paterson.
This is the third-earliest ice wine harvest on record in B.C., with industry leaders saying it could also prove to be one of the largest harvests on record, with one thousand tonnes of grapes slated for ice wine.