With high risk can come high reward, or it can bring complete loss. That\u2019s the challenge ice wine producers face every day.\r\n\r\n\u201cEvery time we do it, we say, \u2018We\u2019re never doing that again,\u2019 yet we always go through another 10 months, and it gets close to harvest and we say, \u2018We should do something challenging,\u2019\u201d says Eric Harris, owner/head winemaker at Two-EE\u2019s Winery in Huntington, Indiana.\r\n\r\nIce wine production is a grueling process that can only succeed in very particular cold climates. Grapes often stay on the vine until December or January, and they\u2019re harvested and pressed while still frozen. Fermentation is started immediately to mediate the high sugar content of the concentrated juice.\r\n\r\nOften, the grapes are picked in the middle of the night, sometimes in snowy, windy, below-zero conditions. That is, if the birds, deer, raccoons and bugs didn\u2019t get to the grapes first.\r\n\r\n\r\nIce wine in the Americas\r\nAccording to Philippe Coquard, a 13th-generation winemaker from the Beaujolais region of France, few European countries still make ice wine due to climate change and a lack of consistent cold weather.\r\n\r\nWhile Europe\u2019s climate may not be optimally suited to produce ice wine, the Midwest U.S. is a different story. Coquard, now head winemaker at Wollersheim Winery in Prairie Du Sac, Wisconsin, says that ice wine has been on the rise in the region over the past two decades.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s like liquid honey,\u201d says Coquard.\r\n\r\nCold-hardy wine grapes developed by the University of Minnesota about two decades ago are primarily why many Midwestern states are able to grow grapes at all.\r\n\r\nVarieties like Frontenac, and its mutations, Frontenac Gris and Frontenac Blanc, are common across vineyards because their vigorous vines can withstand the weather and are very disease resistant.\r\n\r\nBecause ice wine is so difficult to make (\u201cLike pressing juice out of gummy bears,\u201d says Harris), it tends to be expensive. Half-bottles can cost $100 or more. There\u2019s also many imposters out there made from grapes frozen post-harvest in a freezer.\r\n\r\nHere\u2019s a look inside the production methods for seven true ice wine makers across the Midwest.\r\n\r\n\r\nNext Chapter Winery (New Prague, MN)\r\nWhen winemaker Timothy Tulloch, of New Chapter Winery, tried his hand at ice wine in 2015, he was skeptical. \u201cWho\u2019s going to want to buy 375 milliliters of ice wine for $50?\u201d he asked.\r\n\r\nMuch to his surprise, when the 2015 vintage debuted in the winery\u2019s tasting room, it sold out almost immediately. \u201cI couldn't make enough,\u201d says Tulloch.\r\n\r\nIf they\u2019re lucky, Tulloch\u2019s \u201clethal weapon,\u201d an old-school boom box that blasts NPR at all hours, has kept the deer at bay.\r\n\r\nTulloch uses Frontenac Gris grapes, a grey mutation of one of the varieties developed by the University of Minnesota.\r\n\r\nEach fall, Next Chapter hosts a grape stomp, where about 2,000 guests pay to take part in winemaking. When it tried to repeat the concept for ice wine, \u201cwe got a grand total of zero,\u201d says Tulloch. He and the staff dress in snowmobile suits for the brutal harvest.\r\n\r\nIf they\u2019re lucky, Tulloch\u2019s \u201clethal weapon,\u201d an old-school boom box that blasts NPR at all hours, has kept the deer at bay.\r\n\r\n\r\nTrout Springs Winery (Greenleaf, WI)\r\nWith a fish hatchery, water gardening design services and a \u201cglamping\u201d tent on the premises, Trout Springs Winery, located about 20 miles south of Green Bay, isn\u2019t your typical Wisconsin winery. Husband-and-wife owners Steve and Andrea DeBaker began to experiment with ice wine five years ago just to see if it could be done.\r\n\r\n\u201cI thought, if they can do a red ice wine, I can do one, too,\u201d \u2013Steve DeBaker, owner, Trout Springs Winery\r\n\r\nThey started off with white varieties like Louise Swenson, La Crosse and La Crescent, all developed by the University of Minnesota, with promising results. But after they sampled a red ice wine made at Inniskillin on the Niagara Peninsula, who are largely credited with popularizing ice wine in Canada, DeBaker turned to Frontenac and Marquette grapes.\r\n\r\n\u201cI thought, if they can do a red ice wine, I can do one, too,\u201d he says.\r\n\r\nTrout Springs\u2019 first red ice wine was released December 2018, much to DeBaker\u2019s excitement. \u201cOh man, it\u2019s so complex,\u201d he says. Its flavor, he says, offers hits of raspberry, currant and even layers of tropical flavors, with a smooth finish. His 2017 vintage is lovely as an aperitif, but according to DeBaker, even better paired with a light chocolate mousse.\r\n\r\n\r\nDebonn\u00e9 Vineyards (Madison, OH)\r\nWith a climate moderated by eastern Lake Erie, Debonn\u00e9 Vineyards, the largest estate winery in Ohio, presents ideal conditions for ice wine, says winemaker Michael Harris.\r\n\r\nDebonne has produced ice wine for almost two decades, mostly with Vidal Blanc, but more recently with Riesling, as well as Concord sourced from a sister vineyard. Typically, it makes 600\u20131,500 gallons of ice wine each winter and, surprisingly, has never had to skip a year, thanks to Mother Nature, says Harris.\r\n\r\n\u201cI think there\u2019s more awareness [of ice wine] now,\u201d says Harris, who began to make wine after over 30 years in the restaurant business. He was introduced to ice wine as an aperitif in the Chicago area about 15 years ago, and he loves nothing more than to pair it with bread pudding or a slice of lemon torte.\r\n\r\n\r\nCooper\u2019s Hawk Winery (Woodridge, IL)\r\nWinemaker Rob Warren grew up in Canada and studied viticulture in St. Catharines, Ontario, in the heart of the Niagara Peninsula. He first came to Cooper\u2019s Hawk 12 years ago and says the winery has made ice wine for at least that long.\r\n\r\nRather than growing their own grapes in Woodridge, located about 30 miles west of Chicago, they purchase and ferment juice from Vidal Blanc grapes harvested and pressed by Arrowhead Vineyards in nearby Baroda, Michigan.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s so intense and delicious, it\u2019s like no other wine out there. If we didn't make it and offer it, we\u2019d be doing a disservice.\u201d \u2013Rob Warren, winemaker, Cooper's Hawk Winery\r\n\r\nFermentation must be started as quickly after pressing as possible, as there\u2019s a greater risk of spoilage and yeast or bacteria growth on the grapes that can affect the taste.\r\n\r\nWith the juice requiring a two-hour transport via climate-controlled truck, why does Warren go to the trouble? \u201cBecause it\u2019s really, really yummy,\u201d he says. \u201cIt\u2019s so intense and delicious, it\u2019s like no other wine out there. If we didn't make it and offer it, we\u2019d be doing a disservice.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nChateau Chantal (Traverse City, MI)\r\nOne of the focuses at Chateau Chantal is the estate ice wine, which comes off a block on the front of a big hill, says winemaker Brian Hosmer. It\u2019s a blend of proprietary white grapes added to a portion of Riesling, which adds a layer of complexity. It also produces a bottling called Entice, a full-bodied ice wine fortified with oak-aged brandy.\r\n\r\nBecause the hill is so large, it experiences great temperature differences from top to bottom. Where some winemakers harvest at 15\u201318\u00b0F, Hosmer aims for 13\u00b0F to make sure all the vines are frozen. Volume changes year to year, depending on conditions. A good year might yield 80 cases of wine, while other years have resulted in as few as 15 cases, or even none at all.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhat we find that\u2019s interesting in northwest Michigan is that we get a similar heat accumulation to other places, but it happens in a condensed window,\u201d say Hosmer. \u201cWe\u2019re trying to figure out how vines compensate, where you can be ripening a Cab Franc and still make ice wine.\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nTwo-EEs Winery (Huntington, IN)\r\nAfter they experimented with small batches of ice wine over the years, Two-EEs Winery, named for husband-and-wife owners Eric and Emily Harris, now outsources its ice wine juice from another grower.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe majority of the romanticism and fun of ice wine is scavenged from us,\u201d quips Eric.\r\n\r\nThe couple employs oxygen-free fermentation in stainless barrels over a three-month period to mitigate ice wine\u2019s highly volatile acidity, which comes from increased oxidation due to its late harvest. This method required a lot of close attention and monitoring, but fortunately for them, it was successful.\r\n\r\nMaking ice wine is always a big risk, Eric says, because it often requires sitting on inventory for a long time. The climate in northeast Indiana, where they\u2019re located, is difficult for ice wine because there\u2019s not much to moderate the harsh weather. However, Eric says he\u2019s had some of \u201cthe most fantastic ice wines of my life\u201d from the northern part of the state.\r\n\r\n\r\nWilde Prairie Winery (Brandon, SD)\r\nOwners Victoria and Jeff Wilde first learned about ice wine from Coquard (of Wollersheim Winery) at a Minnesota Grape Growers Association conference a few years ago. When one of their crops produced a yield too small for use in their regular wines, they made the decision to leave the grapes on vine and make a try at ice wine.\r\n\r\nThe Wildes have three acres of grapes on the same property as their winery but one of its biggest selling points is the exclusive use of 100% South Dakota-grown Frontenac grapes, honey and fruits in its wines, including cherries and plums they grow themselves.\r\n\r\nBugs like Asian lady beetles and hornets pose a big threat to crops each year, and the vineyard also struggles with late frosts in the spring. Victoria says that other area growers spray their vines with water to create an icy coat over the buds and insulate them from exposure.\r\n\r\nThis year, they\u2019re making a small batch of ice wine with Marechal Fosh, a mild French-American hybrid grape. It\u2019s been a difficult process, and they had to run hot wires through the vineyards to keep the raccoons away before harvest.\r\n\r\nThe ice wine is still aging. The Wildes are unsure what they\u2019ll do with it once it\u2019s ready, or even if they\u2019ll attempt it again. \u201cI\u2019ve tasted it and it\u2019s very sweet, but very intense,\u201d says Victoria.\r\n\r\nSort of like making ice wine itself.