Climate change is very real and may pose the greatest threat that the wine industry has encountered in the last two millennia. The latest victim of global warming is Germany’s prized ice wine (eiswein). The German Wine Institute (DWI) just reported that the nation will produce no ice wine this year due to rising temperatures.
According to the DWI, temperatures of negative 7º Celsius 19º Fahrenheit) are necessary to produce the sweet, dessert wine. Unfortunately, none of the country’s wine regions saw the mercury hit that mark during the current growing season.
“Due to the mild winter, the minimum required temperature for an ice wine harvest was not reached in any German wine region. And the coming days are also no longer expected to have frosty nights,” said DWI rep Ernst Büscher.
Last year was the second hottest in European history. The Institute noted that this is the first time in recorded (wine) history without a vintage. However, decline has been trending for several years. In 2013 and 2014, less than five producers were able to make ice wine. In 2017, only seven producers released the golden nectar.
“If warm winters become more frequent over the coming years, ice wines from Germany’s regions will will soon became an even more expensive rarity than they already are,” said Buescher.
Making ice wine is a delicate affair. As the name suggests the key is to let late harvest grapes freeze on the vine so that the sugar becomes concentrated similar to (but not identical!) a boytritis effect. To that end, the grapes must be crushed while frozen; meeting that condition traditionally involves late night harvests (but many modern producers simply use freezers). Complicating the matter are the perils of leaving the grapes on the vine too long and losing the crop.