Januaryâ€™s frigid temperatures have sparked the grape harvest for 2007 grapes. The harvesting takes place throughout January depending on the temperature and location of the vines. The thinner skinned Cabernet Franc and Riesling are hand picked first and the thicker skinned varieties like Vidal follow. Grapes are left on the vine well into the winter. The freezing and thawing of the grapes dehydrates the fruit, concentrates the sugars, and intensifies the flavour. The juice from the frozen grapes is about one-fifth the amount you would normally get from the grapes. Because of the lower yield of grapes and the slower fermentation as well as the difficulty of picking and processing, ice wines are more expensive than table wines. A 375mL bottle may sell for as much as $300. In Canada the average price for a 375mL bottle of icewine is around $45. Canada is the largest ice wine producer in the world with 40 to 50 vintners in Ontario and British Columbia producing this liquid gold. Niagaraâ€™s Ice Wine Festival kicks off this weekend with a Fire and Ice Gala at The FallsView Casino. I will be attending tomorrow nightâ€™s soiree and will keep you abreast on the progress of the wine! Click here to sign up for Christine's Food for Friends e-newsletter!