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Icewine: a Canadian phenomenon

The Story


Icewine, made from grapes left to freeze on the vine, is a rare and delicate treat. Thanks to our nation's climate, Canadians excel in the production of icewine. In 1991 a Canadian icewine beat over 4,000 competitors to win the prestigious Grand Prix D'Honneur at VinExpo in Bordeaux, France. The wine world finally took a serious look at Canada. Our icewines have since won numerous awards, boosting the reputation of the Canadian wine industry as a whole. Venture's Dianne Buckner looks into icewine production and the role it has played in the Canadian wine industry.

Medium: Television
Program: Venture
Broadcast Date: Feb. 12, 1995
Guest(s): Michael Duffy, Karl Kaiser, Jacques Marie, Patrick Olive
Host: Dianne Buckner
Duration: 4:23

Did You know?


• Icewine -- or eiswein -- comes from Germany where the tradition dates back to the late 1700s. An early cold snap froze grapes on the vine, but they were picked anyway as the winemaker did not want to lose his only crop.
• Icewine is made from naturally frozen grapes that are harvested and processed while still frozen. The temperature must be -8 C for a minimum of three consecutive days before the grapes can be harvested. The grapes must remain frozen during processing.

• Icewine is typically made from thick-skinned grapes such as Vidal or Riesling.
• Freezing and thawing on the vine dehydrates the grapes, increasing their acidity and sweetness.
• Genuine icewine must be naturally produced. No artificial freezing is allowed.
• Canada's consistently cold climate makes it the largest icewine producer in the world.
• Walter Hainle produced the first Canadian icewine in 1973 for friends and family. His son Tilman continued the tradition, establishing Hainle Vineyards in the Okanagan Valley.

• For over 20 years Europeans banned Canadian icewine from their markets, stating high sugar content as their reason. The ban was lifted in May 2001.
• Asia is the largest export market for Canadian icewine.


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