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A mild winter is chilling ice wine production in Michigan

Chateau_Chantal_Ice_Wine_Harvest_1_3_12_3.jpg
courtesy of the Chateau Chantal winery
/
Frozen grapes being harvested last week at the Chateau Chantal winery near Traverse City, Michigan

This year’s mild winter weather is causing problems for the makers of ‘Ice Wines’ in Michigan.   

Ice wine is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes left on the vine to freeze. The very sweet wine is also very pricey. Michigan ice wines sell for as much $90 per bottle.  But this winter, hard freezes have been few and far between.  

Mark Johnson is the chief winemaker at the Chateau Chantal winery near Traverse City. He said the mild weather has taken a toll on the grapes waiting for the ice wine harvest. 

“We always know there’s going to be a loss," said Johnson, "This year…from what we were hoping…would be a ton and a half…or about 3,000 pounds…we harvested about 1,500.”   

Other Michigan vintners decided not to produce ice wines this season. That may mean the 2011 vintage Michigan ice wines will be harder to find this fall.   

Ice wines comprise about 5 percent of wines produced in Michigan.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.