ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — In light of the recent warm weather that we’ve had so far this winter, this has posed significant issues for ice wine harvests at one of our local vineyards.

17 degrees Fahrenheit is the magic number when it comes to harvesting grapes for ice wine; a wintertime staple in the Finger Lakes region. Getting to that temperature is extremely important to get the berries at just the right sugar levels, and head winemaker Paige Vinson over at Casa Larga tells me that this is the first time in 25 years they’ve failed to get the cold temperatures required to harvest them. 

“This is vastly unusual… this would have been our 25th harvest of ice wine here at Casa Larga and unfortunately it’s the first year we had to switch our game plan up and opt against an ice wine harvest for the sake of the crop that we had out there,” Paige says.

At the Rochester airport temperatures dropped to 17 degrees or below only 5 times this season. A few of those days happened over the Christmas weekend, but the strong winds and dangerous cold made it impossible to get the grapes off the vines safely. 

“…in an effort to maintain the crop that we did have out there we actually pulled in a beautiful crop of late harvest Bedal. It gives us a little bit more flexibility with the wine style that we chose to make… but it also helps sheds some light on how special ice wine truly is,” Paige says.

Paige tells me that while the lack of snow and cold was not so great for ice wine this year, it did give them more flexibility with their pre-winter maintenance for when the cold does arrive. 

“Having that opportunity is not always the easiest to come by right on the heels of harvest so it’s given us a little bit of extra time to get the vineyard buttoned up before the winter,” Paige says.

Despite the harvesting challenges this year, Paige tells me they’re still having their annual ice wine festival this year as planned.

Casa Larga will have their ice wine festival on February 18th this year with plenty of alternative products and fun planned for the event.