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Ice Wine along Lake Erie

As we visited wineries along Lake Erie in Ohio and Pennsylvania we had the opportunity to taste several ice wines. Being wary of other wineries in the United States who claim to make an ice wine, I always ask at what temperature the grapes were harvested. I’m suspicious of wineries that harvest grapes and then freeze them and sell their product as ice wine. Some who follow this method call their product an “iced wine.” I wonder if the addition of the “d” to the word “ice” confuses consumers.

At several wineries along Lake Erie that were visited, they all stated that they are not allowed to harvest grapes for an ice wine until the temperature drops to 17 degrees Fahrenheit. This is equivalent to Canadian law that does not permit the harvest of grapes for an Icewine until the temperature reaches -8 degrees Celsius. One partner at a winery mentioned that the temperature was 9 degrees Fahrenheit when she helped to harvest the grapes.

Does it get that cold along the southern shores of Lake Erie? Apparently so! We visited the area in early November and one evening the temperatures dipped to 30 degrees and we were awakened to snow and plenty of it. A sign on the road posted “Drive as though it were winter.” Most heeded the advice. So it’s easy to understand that the temperatures can get low enough to harvest grapes for ice wine in the areas close to the Lake where many of the vineyards are located.

Many of the ice wines tasted were made from Vidal grapes. One however was made from Concord grapes. That ice wine would pair nicely with Swedish meatballs.

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