Icewine lovers flocked to Grizzli Winery over the weekend for its first annual icewine festival.
Besides being an inaugural event, this year’s festival was special as it coincided with the Lunar New Year.
The winery welcomed the Year of the Rat with a calligrapher on site who taught attendees how to write good luck messages in Chinese. Attendees were also taught about some of the things they could do to make 2020 a lucky year, such as wearing the lucky colour and offering mandarin oranges to spread good luck.
Residents and tourists flocked to the West Kelowna winery to savour and celebrate four icewines and two other table wines. The wines were then paired with curated fruits, cheeses, and crackers to highlight the flavours.
The winery was packed, with approximately a hundred people coming and going just in one day. Many mingled inside as they waited their turn to sample some wine, and others gathered around an outdoor fire to have hot chocolate and roast marshmallows.
The response to the festival was positive, according to the winery.
Grapes for icewine are left to freeze on the vines before they are picked. The optimal temperature to harvest the grapes are around – 8 C to -14 C. The Okanagan’s recent cold snap brought the ideal conditions for the harvest to be sweeter as the water in the fruit is frozen and only sugars remained.
Each bottle of white icewine contains 30 to 35 pounds of grapes, and a bottle of red icewine has about 50 to 55 pounds, according to Grizzli Winery’s sales coordinator Breanna Nathorst.
“White icewines are more common and red icewines are a lot more rare, which is why they’re also more expensive,” she said.
“The reason for that is because you’re getting a lot more flavour in there, and they’re riskier to produce because we wait until it’s -14 C before we pick the grapes.”
This year’s harvest was pressed about a week ago and is now fermenting. Due to the high sugar content, fermentation will take quite some time so this year’s icewine won’t be ready for bottling until the spring.