Climate change threatens the production of ice wine in Luxembourg

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Climate change threatens the production of ice wine in Luxembourg

Eiswein

by Volker Bingenheimer, Adam Walder

2 minutes

13.12.2018

From our online archives

As an expensive niche drink, could eiswein completely disappear as a Luxembourg product?

As an expensive niche drink, could eiswein completely disappear as a Luxembourg product?

The harvest of Eiswein from a previous year along the Moselle in Luxembourg Photo: LW archives

The tradition of ice wine, or thiswein in Luxembourg, produced at the very end of the season, could soon disappear due to climate change.

“Our cooperative winegrowers have run out of grapes for ice wine. To my knowledge, it has not been produced by any private winemaker this year, ”explains Harald Beck, wine consultant at the Vinsmoselle cooperative. “For ice wine, you need several days of severe frost, preferably in November or December. Faced with climate change, the risk is very high that these conditions will not be met.

The viscous, aromatic and syrupy eiswein is made from frozen grapes. For this, they must be left on the vine after the harvest season in September and October.

In frozen fruit, some of the water forms ice crystals and stays inside the grapes. The result is a concentrated juice, with low yield, but high in sugar.

During a mild winter, the icewine harvest may not take place at all, meaning that an entire year’s icewine production would be lost.



Climate change is doubly unfavorable, explains Harald Beck. On the one hand, especially in the first significant half of winter, it often happens that no persistent low temperature is reached. On the other hand, the hot summer ensures early maturity. The grapes then need more frost, due to the sugar content, to freeze.

“Especially this year we have had exceptional grape quality,” says Beck, but that means constant temperatures below -7 ° C are needed to freeze the grapes.

According to his observation, the severe frosts of recent years do not occur until the end of winter, but by then it is often too late for the eiswein. “The longer it takes, the harder it is to harvest healthy, intact grapes,” he says.

To protect them from birds, the winegrowers pack the rows of vines for eiswein in fillets or leaves, but rot and natural loss due to desiccation reduce the harvest.

As an expensive niche product, could eiswein completely disappear as a product of Luxembourg winegrowers along the Moselle? Beck shakes his head. He doesn’t want to call eiswein a “discontinued product”, however, he sees little chance in the years to come that the winegrowers will take risks related to eiswein.


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