Niagara’s seasons are very delineated. Summer is warm and autumn is cool followed by a quick shift to winter’s cold; these are the perfect conditions for producing Icewine and Late Harvest wines, and especially so in the Short Hills Bench. When winter arrives the berries are typically harvested at night when they are frozen at -8 ºC (minimum) and when they are at least 36 Brix (% sugar).
Site and grape variety matter here. Vidal is both delicious and a sturdy variety of grape but Cabernet Franc and Riesling are the most elegant. The Short Hills Bench is uniquely situated 7 KM south of Lake Ontario, further away from the moderating effect of the water. This means that the minimum condition (-8 ºC) arrives more consistently than elsewhere in Niagara, allowing for more opportunities to pick, often earlier. Consequently we are able to produce all three major varieties of Icewine, including the fickle Cabernet Franc and Riesling, with great quality and consistency.
Late Harvest is a related category of wine. In our case, we produce it only at the highest level (called Special Select Late Harvest). Specifically that means the fruit is harvested at 32 brix or more but without conditions placed on temperature at harvest.