Growers continue pruning the hardier grape varieties. Growers who have left grapes for Icewine wait anxiously for the winter harvest. It is not uncommon to have some Icewine grapes picked by mid-December and the whole crop removed by the end of December. Usually, though, there is some harvesting left to finish in January. Icewine grapes must be picked when the berries freeze consistently solid for a period of two to three days in temperatures ranging from –8 to –15 degrees Celsius.
In most of the world’s vineyards, winter activity is minimal and the vineyards are at rest. But Ontario, a province in east-central Canada, is the world’s largest producer of Icewine. Here, during the Icewine harvest, January is a season of high activity and non-stop work. If December temperatures have not been cold enough to freeze the Icewine grapes solid, growers hope that January brings the frigid cold of –8 to –15 degrees Celsius that allows the Icewine harvest to take place.
Icewine grapes have most likely been picked by now. In some unusual seasons, the harvest has been prolonged into February, or even March. But in a typical year, Icewine grapes are picked in December or January. Now, the protective nettings are removed from the vines. As the daylight hours slowly begin to lengthen and temperatures gradually climb, growers start to prune their less-hardy vinifera vines.