Canada's 2014 Icewine vintage is set to only yield half as much wine as the historic 2013 harvest, but several winemakers are optimistic on quality thanks to good acidity levels and picking conditions.

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Niagara Icewine harvest. Image credit: Norm Betts / Bloomberg / Getty

The 2014 Canadian Icewine harvest was 43% smaller than 2013, acording to the VQA, Canada’s quality wine assurance agency. Litres pressed from 2014 wine harvest were estimated to be down 52% from the previous vintage, according to preliminary figures.

Debbie Zimmerman, chief executive of Grape Growers of Ontario, said grapes were picked later than last year, with 3,751 tonnes of grapes left hanging for Icewine until January 2015, as opposed to mid-December for the 2013 vintage.

Not everybody had the same experience. In British Columbia, Inniskillin reported its earliest Icewine harvest on record at its Okanagan Estate winery, with picking beginning on 12 November.

Harvesting only begins once temperatures dip below -8°C for a sustainted period, after grapes have been left to freeze on the vine. The longer the grapes stay on the vine the more likely they are to be eaten by birds and other mammals in the region.

Although the overall 2014 harvest is significantly reduced from the past recent vintages, it is within normal fluctuations for the region and does not represent a significant point of concern for Canadian vintners.

Angelo Paven, winemaker and partner of Cave Spring Cellars in Niagara, said the 2014 vintage still produced good quality grapes. ‘The cooler growing season produced a small crop, however the cool weather maintained acidity that provides the backbone for this small, but expressive vintage.’

Canadian Icewine is harvested and pressed at night. The lion’s share of Icewine is produced with the hybrid grape Vidal Blanc, although numerous other varieties are used including the popular Cabernet Franc, and Riesling.

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Written by Emily Pearce