Turning Frozen Grapes to Gold

Nature's frozen alchemy turns grapes to gold.

In the harsh winters of Germany, Canada and Upstate New York, winemakers have done for centuries that which alchemists strived to do in antiquity—create gold. Through manipulation of water, earth and vines, these masters transform the thin juice of grapes into a viscous nectar. Months after fall harvest, select clusters of Riesling, Vidal and the occasional Cabernet Franc remain on the vine, risking threats from mold and hungry vineyard pests. They hang in anticipation for that one bitter cold night in January, where they finally freeze solid—from pips to skin. Why would a vinter want frozen grapes? There is purpose, and there is desire, and the vintner has liquid gold on his mind. It is from frozen grapes that these modern-day alchemists create decadent ice wine—a golden elixir so sweet and vibrant, it’s as if joy and youth and even the summer sunshine are contained in every drop.

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