Tongue River Winery         

                       Quality Made Wines with fruit exclusively from the Northern Plains!  

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Apple Ice Wine under way

Posted on November 30, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Ouch!  Freezing!  That's how we responded two years ago when we first started picking apples to make apple ice wine.  This year we wore thick rubber gloves and it was just fine!  That year we picked about 80 pounds of apples.  This year we picked more like 800 pounds.

By law, fruit must be frozen when picked and frozen when processed if you want to call the result "ice wine".  We pick the frozen fruit, hold it outside or in the freezer, and then press it while still frozen.  We use just a slightly warm water in our bladder press to get the fruit soft enough to give up the juice.

First of all, it's hard to find apples that remain on the tree until frozen.  If you have some and you live near Miles City, by all means give us a call!  We're after the large crab size (1 to 1 1/2 inches).  We've found three trees so far.

Normal apple juice runs between 7-9% sugar.  It might run a little higher as the apples dry out in winter.  But when pressed while still frozen, the sweetest fraction oozes out first leaving the ice behind, and increases the sugar levels to as much as 40%!

We save the very sweet juice when it gets down to about 30%.  We then press the rest out until we're in the 15-20% range and freeze that portion in plastic buckets or carboys.  After they are frozen solid, we invert them into another bucket and let about half the juice thaw out— again the sweet part— and end up with about half as much juice with twice the sugar.  For example 10 gallons of frozen 18% juice can become about 5 gallons of 36% juice when cryo-extracted in this fashion.

We will end up with almost 50 gallons of very sweet apple juice somewhere between 30-36% sugar.  If everything turns out well, we'll end up with about 375 bottles of smooth, sweet intense apple wine presented in gorgeous 500 ml German antique blue tapered bottles.  It's chilly work but the result is delicious!

Happy holidays!

Bob

Categories: IN THE WINERY