Mild Winter Puts the Freeze on Ice Wine

Photo: Dominic Rivard
Climate change poses all of kinds of consequences for your dinner table. As temperatures shift, so do the conditions favorable for growing and cultivating many of the sips and bites we take for granted. Grapes face a number of challenges in an increasingly warming world, and climate change is having a particularly chilling effect on some prized winter spirits.

Ice wine is crafted from frozen grapes to produce a thick and sweet concoction usually served with dessert. The concentrated, syrupy and sugary libation doesn’t come cheap, and a mild winter is costing wineries in the Northeast and Upper Midwest in the United States. Higher winter temperatures forced growers to wait much later to harvest frozen grapes. Because of the delay, some of the fruit withered on the vine, and some winemakers decided it was just too late to pick them.

A smaller and later harvest could translate into higher prices for a vintage that can cost upwards of $50. Climate change is putting the squeeze on grapes around the world, as well as winemakers and wine drinkers. Ice wine may be sweet, but a warming world could make for more bitter harvests.

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Published: January 26, 2012