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Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012

Ice wine harvest returns to Canada's Okanagan Valley

From Wine Press Northwest news services

KELOWNA, British Columbia — Harvest for the ice wine cometh again in Canada's Okanagan Valley.

Nearly two months after the Okanagan Valley's second-earliest start on record for the harvest of ice wine, the frigid temperatures — no warmer than 17 degrees Fahrenheit or minus-9 Celsius — required to produce ice wine returned this week.

According to the B.C. Wine Institute, Round 2 of ice harvest began at 11 p.m., Tuesday when the temperature fell to 10 degrees Fahrenheit in West Kelowna. That allowed Rollingdale Winery to complete the harvest of its estate vineyard. Steve Dale's team picked Chardonnay and Pinot Gris until 6 a.m., Wednesday.

The institute reported that 14 wineries between Vernon in the north and Osoyoos to the south picked grapes for ice wine from 11 p.m. Wednesday to 7 a.m. Thursday.

Nk’Mip Cellars in Osoyoos harvested five tons of Riesling. Randy Picton, head winemaker for North America's first aboriginal-owned winery, said the fruit came in at 40 brix.

In nearby Oliver, Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate winemaker Derek Kontkanen said his team picked 10 tons of Riesling off their Whitetail Vineyard just after 2 a.m. Thursday.

American ex-pat Sandra Oldfield, winemaker and co-owner of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards, brought 3.6 tons of Kerner into her winery above the Golden Mile around 7 a.m. Thursday.

Also on Thursday, Kalala Organic Estate Winery in West Kelowna harvested 70 tons of Zweigelt, Riesling and Merlot. Karnail Singh Sidhu and his winemaking team hope for another night of frigid conditions because they estimate an additional 40 tons are left to hanging on the vines.

On Nov. 19, Summerhill Pyramid Organic Winery in Kelowna was the first winery in the province to harvest grapes in 2011 for ice wine production.

For updates on the harvest, follow @winebcdotcom, #Icewine and #BCwine on Twitter.