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Harvest of grapes for ice wine

FROSTY weather in Slovakia caused some worries and troubles, but it also brought joy: to skiers and ski resort managers, but also to wine growers and producers in the Small Carpathians.

(Source: SITA)

Thanks to low temperatures beginning January, below -7 degrees Celsius, they were able to start harvesting the grapes designated for ice wine. In January, such a harvest was launched in one of the vineyards in the Rača borough of Bratislava, in the appellation Krivé. From the area of about one hectare, 40 tonnes of grapes were harvested, of the Blaufränkisch cultivar.

“This will make about 400 litres of must,” agronomist Kamil Gajdošík of the Villa Vino Rača company told the TASR newswire. The harvest began on Monday morning, with temperature of -9°C. With such low temperatures, the sugar will separate from the water in the grapes. “If the necessary temperature was not achieved, sugar would mix with water, and thus we would not get the sugar content required,” Gajdošík explained.

From the legislative, as well as physical point of view, the ideal temperature for harvesting grapes for ice wines is -7°C, according to viniculturists. “The grapes contain organic and mineral substances, and water in grapes thus freezes only at -7°C,” production manager of Villa Vino Rača, Richard Polkoráb, explained. “The lower the temperature the better, as the sugar concentrates in the juice, and you need the water to be frozen, including during the pressing. Thus, we get higher levels of sugar as it is concentrated.”

During a normal harvest of grapes, the pressing rate is about three quarters of a litre of must from one kilogram of grapes; “in the ice harvest, there is only one decilitre of must from a kilogram of grapes”, Polkoráb said. “This is why this wine is so precious.” The weather, the condition of grapes and wild animals impact the amount of grapes harvested for ice wine.

In another grape growing area, around the town of Modra, some viniculturists have started the ice wine harvest, too. Head of the Modra Association of Wine-growers and Wine-makers Vincúr, Vincent Jakubec, said that not too many of them managed to keep the grapes fit for harvest, though. There are numerous reasons that grapes can be harmed or spoiled, including wild boars and deer.

“Ice wine is exceptional in that the water contained in all grapes remains in the form of ice,” Jakubec explained. “It does not get into the must from pressed juice, that pours during the pressing of ice wine. One can say that it is only sheer sugary juice coming from grapes without water. This makes the wine unique.”

In and around Pezinok, the situation is even worse. Member of the Association of Pezinok Wine-growers and Wine-makers, Gabriel Guštafík, told TASR that he knows of nobody in Pezinok who would keep grapes for ice wine this season. “The autumn was quite warm, grapes started to rot; and there is also a huge problem with wild animals,” he summed up.

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