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Freezing temperatures bode well for Eiswein

Freezing temperatures across Germany in the nights of 8 and 9 December have ushered in a promising Eiswein harvest – for some estates the first for many years.

Picking eiswein at Dr Loosen’s Erdener Treppchen vineyard

At Riesling estate Schloss Vollrads in the Rheingau, teams headed out by midnight on 9 December to pick solidly frozen grapes.

Christine Höhne, Vollrads’ export manager said, ‘The grapes were very healthy so the wine is very clean, we are totally happy with 195 degrees Öchsle [the must weight, indicating sugar content in the juice]’.

Temperatures need to fall to at least -7°C for Eiswein but the weekend nights dipped to -12°C, providing ideal conditions for eiswein.

Grapes are pressed while frozen, yielding extremely concentrated juice high in sugar, flavour and all-important acidity as the ice crystals of water remain in the press.

Pfalz estate von Winning harvested 2,500kg Riesling in their Deidesheimer Herrgottsacker vineyard at -10°C, starting at 1am on Sunday morning, the must reaching 142 degrees Öchsle. This will yield no more than 1000 litres of eiswein.

The purest eisweins are made from non-botrytised grapes. In 2012 the fruit was healthy, prompting many winegrowers to leave grapes on the vines in a gamble which has now paid off.

Andreas Hütwohl, management assistant at von Winning said, ‘It was the first time in many years that we harvested Eiswein. Previous years’ harvests were too small to leave grapes on the vine, or simply too warm.’

Written by Anne Krebiehl

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