So you want to know; What is Icewine?

3 frozen grapes1 What is Icewine
What is Icewine?


People often ask "What is Icewine?" The origin Icewine has its cherished myths. Some say, at the end of the 18th century, German farmers accidentally discovered Icewine after trying to save their frozen grapes. Folklore has it that a small German village was surrounded by the enemy and could not pick their crops. When the troops left because of the cold winter weather, the villagers picked and pressed their grapes and called the delicious nectar “Eiswien”.

Today, making Icewine is a Canadian game for the Wineries Niagara region. We may not have invented Icewine, but we have perfected it. Canada's Icewine Niagara region has the long, warm summers and freezing cold winters that create the ideal conditions for Icewine.

At The Ice House Winery, we make Northern Ice™ by leaving our grapes on the vines well into winter to allow Mother Nature to cultivate the grape's flavour complexity as it ripens.

The critical season for Icewine is not Mother Nature’s freezer (-8 C for harvesting) but rather her refrigerator. Cold but not freezing temperatures in November and early December is when the mysterious and magical flavour transformation occurs.

What is Icewine made of?

The Vidal grape has a naturally late season maturation and tough resilience which makes it the perfect Icewine variety. Vidal can consistently “hold” on the vine, year in and year out, developing the top notes of apricot, peach and lychee with the underlying flavours of butterscotch, caramel and honey awaiting the unpredictable deep freeze. Vidal is the steadying partner in an otherwise nerve wracking winemaking experience.

Northern Ice Cabernet Sauvignon is a "Rare Red" Icewine with Wineries Niagara this grape requires higher maintenance than Vidal and is not consistently available. Its rich raspberry, plum and cranberry notes which Mother Nature develops are worth the constant care.

At minus eight degrees Celsius, the snow and ice-covered bunches are hand-picked, often in the dark of night. While still naturally frozen, the grapes are rushed to our century-old winery, where they are pressed frozen. The juice, now highly concentrated, is transferred to state-of-the-art tanks and fermented and aged under the watchful eye of Jamie until it’s ready for bottling.

Through patience and care, Northern Ice™ is magically transformed into a range of vibrant, jewel toned liquids, each with a complex, elegant taste, unrivalled anywhere in the world; making The Ice House Winery the "darling" of Wineries Niagara.