Germany’s ice wine harvest fails because of mild winter

Germany’s ice wine harvest fails because of mild winter

Germany’s ice wine harvest fails because of mild winter

In this Dec. 18, 2009 file photo snow-covered grapes hang in a vineyard near Freyburg, Germany. (AP File Photo)

A warm winter means that, for apparently the first time in the history of German winemaking, the country’s fabled vineyards will produce no ice wine - a pricey, golden nectar made from grapes that have been left to freeze on the vine.

None of Germany’s 13 winemaking regions saw the necessary temperatures of minus 7 degrees Celsius (19.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in 2019, one of the world’s warmest years on record.

“The 2019 vintage will go down in history here as the first year in which the ice wine harvest failed nationwide,” Ernst Buescher from the German Wine Institute (DWI) said in a statement on March 1.

“If warm winters become more frequent over the coming years, ice wines from Germany’s regions will soon become an even more expensive rarity than they already are,” he added.

A succession of warm winters has cut into ice wine production recently, the institute said, noting that in 2017 only seven producers managed to make it, and only five managed it in 2013.

Buescher said the institute knew of no vintage year in this century or last when no ice wine was made, and since winters were colder in the 19th century, it assumed that the latest harvest was the first one to create no ice wine since production began in 1830.

German ice wines tend to have natural residual sugar levels of well over 100 grams per liter, but an alcohol content of only around seven percent.

The price of a small bottle of German ice wine starts at around 20 euros ($22) but higher quality ones can sell for well over 100 euros.

Canada, Austria and Germany are the largest producers worldwide of ice wine. The novel desert wine is especially popular in Japan, China, Scandinavia and the  United States.