Finger Lakes — the state's largest wine producing region — is the largest producer of ice wine and wintry Lake Ontario is even colder than the Finger Lakes, making them another major producer in the state.Published Jan. 22, 2021, 11:35 a.m. | Updated Jan. 22, 2021, 11:35 a.m. |
It’s the cold that makes January the perfect time for ice wine in New York.
Ice wine is wine made from frozen grapes. The grapes are left on the vine after harvest season, till fully frozen and they are pressed, also while still frozen.
The cold grape-freezing weather puts New York State at an advantage over other warmer wine hubs like California.
Finger Lakes — the state's largest wine producing region — is the largest producer of ice wine and wintry Lake Ontario is even colder than the Finger Lakes, making them another major producer in the state.
But because the winters are not always cold enough to frost the grapes, ice wines may not be produced every year.
This only makes ice wines coveted and even award winning.
How did ice wine become a thing?
While the earliest reference of ice wine can be traced back to the Roman times (according to wikipedia), the Germans seem to have popularized it in the 19th century as Eiswein. A German immigrant took this to Canada, because what better place to find frost. The Eiswein made from Vidal grapes has even won awards in Canada’s Niagara region. Then the Finger Lakes started to grow and produce this in the United States in 1981.
In the States and particularly Finger Lakes, mainly Riesling grapes are used to make this sweet wine. Because of its sweet nature, New York wines make for nice dessert wines, mainly because they are drunk in smaller quantities, again because of how sweet it is. They pair with fruit desserts or a cheese platter, or make for a sweet dessert in and of itself. New York ice wines have fruity flavors like tangerine, lemon and honeysuckle. Their alcohol content is about 6% to 13%.
While these wines are picked and pressed in the winter, they can be drunk all year around. Especially on a hot New York summer day, the floral and fruity flavors, and the fact that the wine is served chilled makes it a popular brunch favorite.
These wines have the ability to age, like most other wines. But the Sparkling Ice wines are best consumed within five years.
Like other wines in the New York region, even some of their ice wines are award winning. Here are some of the wines to try.
Sheldrake Point Ice Wine has won 13 awards since 2012. The wine is rich but the flavors are delicate, tasting of peach, lemon and orange peel. Their wines are of the Riesling and Cabernet Franc grapes.
Sheldrake Point Winery, 7448 County Rd 153, Ovid, NY 14521
The estate grown and bottled Vidal Blanc Ice Wine from Hunt Country Vineyards is a winner of the 2017 Jefferson Cup for Dessert Wines. The flavors are rich in honey, exotic fruits, and sweet apricot.
Hunt Country Vineyards, 4021 Italy Hill Road, Branchport, NY 14418
Casa Larga has the most awarded ice wines in the country. The grapes are Riesling, Vidal Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Gewurztraminer and more. Other than purchasing bottles from them, the ice wines can also be sampled at the New York Ice Wine & Culinary Festival held every February.
Casa Larga, 2287 Turk Hill Road, Fairport, NY 14450
Fulkerson Winery’s Fulkerson Ice Wine Vidal Blanc 2017 has good acidity and sweetness. Their Vidal Blanc and Riesling Iced Wines are also available for U-pick.
Fulkerson Winery, 5576 Route 14, Dundee, NY 14837