NORTH EAST, Pa. (Erie News Now) — During a typical January, growers at Mazza Vineyards would be in the vineyard, harvesting gapes for ice wine. But this year, there’s no ice.
As Mario Mazza, the Vice President and General Manager of Mazza Vineyards explained, “If we don’t get it that first freeze and especially as we get into mid-to late January, you really get a reduced yield.”
Reduced, but not eliminated. Five frigid days at the end of December offered a brief window to harvest frozen grapes. “We are really fortunate that we did get it picked then, because with the mild weather we have had over the past few weeks, probably would have had crop degeneration, I don’t know if we would have gotten much of a crop at this point”, explained Mazza.
It’s a process that takes weeks to complete. After the frozen grapes are picked they are then pressed and fermented for several weeks until the next part of the process begins. “When you ferment that part of the way you leave a lot of that natural sweetness behind, creating a wonderfully intense dessert wine”, said Mazza.
Mazza said they’ll have a strong yield this year, but even that comes with problems. December’s freeze made ice wine possible, but it could cause headaches this spring. “There’s a lingering concern in the back of our mind here as we talk with our growers was it so cold that we had other damage potentially in buds in the vineyard?’ That’s something we will know in the coming weeks, if that was affected, we are hoping not, but that’s always a concern as we get into the colder temperatures and single digits.”, said Mazza.
The grapes they picked in December aren’t ready to be bottled yet, but there are bottles of ice wine from years past that are for sale at Mazza Vineyards.