Harvesting grapes for ice wine demands that pickers await the coldest weather before taking to the vineyards. With that standard in view, a mostly volunteer crew of 15 assembled before dawn this morning to begin gathering nearly four tons of grapes from an Orleans County field.
"Some people are crazy enough to want to do it," said Jonathan Oakes, winemaker for Leonard Oakes Estate Winery.
Speaking to WBFO News at 4:30 Tuesday morning, Oakes was about to lead a group of pickers that included some who had driven from New York City to take part.
Located just three miles from Lake Ontario, lake snows and a temperature of eight degrees greeted the pickers as they prepared to harvest a Lyndonville vineyard.
The temperatures, Oakes said, present the ideal set of conditions for the makers of ice wine. In fact, "very few regions can reproduce" the conditions needed to produce ice wine.
According to Oakes, only parts of Ontario and Germany's Alsace region have the appropriate climates.
Today's harvest was expected to last six to eight hours.