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Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario- Pillitteri Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake was lucky to receive an early Christmas present from Mother Nature with the recent downswing of temperatures. On Wednesday evening temperatures reached below -8°C and the 2017 Icewine harvest began. Because the harvest was able to happen early in the season it means grape volumes won’t be lost to birds and animals seeking winter snacks. In a typical year each additional day the grapes sit on the vines 1% of the crop is consumed by birds and other animals, even with protective netting. An early harvest means more volume of the premium Canadian product.
Jamie Slingerland, Pillitteri’s Director of Viniculture explained that “typically an Icewine harvest takes place in mid-January, by then about 15% of the total volume of grapes grown on the vine have either fallen to the ground or been eaten by birds. This represents a huge amount of grapes that will never make it into wine. Being able to harvest early is a windfall for our entire industry, giving all producers the chance to add volume without reducing the quality of our most premium product. With the late harvest last season, our volumes were slightly lower. This year means we are able to make up that difference.”
Jamie added that this “is only the beginning of the Icewine harvest season, it will take a number of days at temperatures below -8°C to get all the grapes off, but if the forecast holds it will be a very ‘Happy New Year’ for the Ontario wine industry”.
Canada is the world’s leading producer of Icewine in terms of quality and quantity. Canada is consistently recognised as producing the best Icewine in the world through awards and critical acclaim. Pillitteri Estates Winery is the world’s largest Estate producer of Icewine and is a family owned winery with 3 generations and 8 family members full time employed in the operation. Founded in 1993 and is situated on 130 acres of vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It currently exports Icewine to 35 countries. Pillitteri has won over 800 international and domestic awards, reflecting the winery’s commitment to produce premium VQA wines.