Icewine Harvest Vintage 2016

The yearly feat of strength at the wine estate, the Eiswein harvest, and also the vintage of 2016, is over. In addition to the classic Eiswein, the Grüner Veltliner, this year we also left red Eiswein rarities, more precisely Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon, hanging in the vineyards. The harvest times were also quite special this year: We started on New Year’s Day at 5 am, when the temperature was -7° Celsius and there was a spectacular hoarfrost. We finished on the day of Epiphany at 10 pm when the temperature was between -8° and -10° Celsius.

New Year’s Day

Our wine year 2017 could not have started any better. After midnight, the mercury soon dropped to an almost constant temperature of -7°C, worthy of Eiswein. From 4 am onwards the grapes were frozen. We started to harvest at 5 am with clear weather conditions. A little later, a thick fog descended on the vineyards, which largely blocked the sunshine. We were therefore able to harvest the frozen grapes until just after midday and managed to harvest more than half of our Eiswein vineyards.

The mist also turned the vineyards into a shining white winter wonderland full of hoarfrost – a view that completely made up for the efforts in the early hours of New Year’s Day. The weather forecast for the following day also gave us reason for optimism: More mist, even colder. Unfortunately, the only part that was true was “more mist“. It remained a constant -5°C throughout the night, which is just slightly insufficient for Eiswein. The additional hoarfrost was, however, phenomenal.

Epiphany

The remaining vineyards, all Grüner Veltliner, were harvested on the day of Epiphany. Throughout the day, the temperature remained under -4° Celsius with a very strong wind, and dropped severely during the afternoon. At 10 pm, the harvest began at just below -7°C and with less wind than during the day. As the clear night progressed, the temperature dropped even further and the wind picked up again.

As the last grapes of the 2016 vintage were harvested at 2 am, it was below -10°C with strong wind gusts. Although conditions were adverse, we were all very satisfied to finally be able to complete the vintage 2016. Thanks to the low temperatures, the grapes were considerably more frozen. This meant we had to spend more time pressing them and, at the same time, the concentration of the berry ingredients was higher.

The Varieties

On our wine estate, the Grüner Veltliner is, quite simply, the classic Eiswein. In all the years that we have been pressing Eiswein, we have come to understand that Austria’s main variety is the most suitable for this. The thick skin and the robustness of the vines are important so that the Eiswein grapes, as well as the vineyard, remain healthy. In addition to these wine-producing factors, the Grüner Veltliner also always tastes excellent: The interaction between the aroma and the fresh acidity after the long maturing periods is always fascinating.

The red varieties in this year, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon are exceptional. Stricken by the frost, these vineyards bounced back and still managed to bring forth a moderate quantity of grapes. However, this grape setting was very late and irregular. The maturity of the tannins would not have been sufficient for high quality red wine in autumn. So we left these varieties hanging for Eiswein for the first time. And our instinct paid off: They were among the best red Eiswein grapes that we had ever had in our cellars. We also believe that it could be the first Eiswein of this variety. In Austria, at least.