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Cold temperatures yield top wines for Rochester-area vineyard

While you might be shivering on one of the coldest days of the year in Central New York, workers as Casa Larga Vineyards in Rochester are venturing out into their fields to pick grapes at temperatures that are hovering around zero.
Fairport (WSYR-TV) - While you might be shivering on one of the coldest days of the year in Central New York, workers as Casa Larga Vineyards in Rochester are venturing out into their fields to pick grapes at temperatures that are hovering around zero.

The vineyard uses frozen grapes to make its ice wine.

Steve Richards and his crew begin the process of making ice wine by paying close attention to the weather forecast.

“Pretty much identifying a window of time where it'll be below 17 for a four-hour period of time, and then we get the crew together as fast as we can,” said Richards.

The idea of venturing out into a field when it’s 12 degrees with light snow falling might sound brutal, but Richards’ crews are prepared.

The crews dress in several layers and also gloves, hand warmers, and heavy winter gear. Then they pick up fruit pruners and head out. Each bin of grapes weighs about 30 to 40 pounds.

"The first thing we do is sort through them all and we get all the snow out that fell into the picking bins, and we also make sure we only get the really nice clusters,” Richards said.

Wine maker Matt Cassavaugh says temperature means everything for a good ice win.

“Most juice, any fruit juice, is mostly water, and when you pick it at the right temperature, where a lot of the water is frozen but some of the really sugary concentrated nectars are still liquid,” he said. “So that’s all you get when you press them at that temperature.

After four hours of work and two years of aging, Casa Larga has another bottle of award-winning wine.

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