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Morsels (2)


“We keep an eye on the weather forecasts. When the first 15-degree overnight is predicted, we call in the crew, usually about 10 people.

We start harvesting at sunrise. It only takes a few hours because there are no leaves on the vines and the grapes just fall right off.

We fill the wine press immediately and start pressing. By then the grapes have usually warmed up to 17 degrees, which is perfect,” explains Nissen.

You need some luck to make ice wine. The wet spring and summer of 2010 wiped out Nissen’s ice wine grapes.

The warm late fall of 2011 limited the size of his crop and hence the supply of this year’s batch, which is scheduled for market in November. Next year he expects a big batch.

Winter Moon is arguably the superstar of Iowa wines. The Mid-American Wine Competition rated the 2007 vintage as “Spectacular.” It won that organization’s Dr. Dick Peterson Award as the best Iowa wine of 2010.

Des Moines caterer Cyd Koehn says it’s her favorite wine of any kind to pair with chocolate. She also says it’s an amazing wine to use for cooking, particularly for reductions to serve with game or desserts. Des Moines chef Hal Jasa (Proof) says it’s even marvelous after turning to vinegar.

(Read more Morsels)

Ice Ages

In the first century of the Christian Era, both Pliny the Elder and Martial wrote about wine grapes being left on the vine until frozen. Ice wine seems to have disappeared with the Roman Empire.

But at the beginning of the 19th century, grapes were left to freeze on the vine as animal fodder during an early German winter.

Farmers noticed that those grapes yielded a sweeter musk, so some were pressed into wine.

Ice wine harvests in Germany were rare until 1961, when Eiswein became popular and modern technologies made it more practical.

In 1984 Karl Kaiser made the first Canadian ice wines with Botrytis-free Vidal grapes in Ontario.

By the third millennium, Canada had become the leading ice wine producer in the world.

In 2007 a Canadian ice wine (Northern Ice Vidal Blanc Icewine 2005) won the Monde Selection’s Grand Gold, the rarely awarded, highest honor accorded to any wine.


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