The cold temperatures have been good for one of the region's signature products

FAIRPORT — Not everyone likes the cold, but Casa Larga Vineyards is now raising a glass as they begin the grape harvest for this season’s ice wines.

It’s a different story than last year, when ice wine makers worried that the unusually warm weather would affect their production.

“This year was kind of nice, because it was cold all day,” says Andrea Colaruotolo O’Neill, Casa Larga’s director of marketing. “We didn’t have to start until seven in the morning. Sometimes we’ve had to start at midnight and go out with the tractors with headlights as early as 4 a.m.”

From vine to bottle, Upstate New York is known for its wineries, especially the ice wine that’s unique to this region.

O’Neill says that Casa Larga, located in Fairport, is best known for making ice wines. The family-owned business has been producing quality wine for over 30 years.

“When we first started out it was a hobby for my dad,” says O’Neill, “He had a lot of fun. He had a lot of friends that would come up, and my mom would constantly be making food.” 

Since then, Casa Larga has won awards and competitions nationally and in Europe for its ice wine. What makes it special is its sweetness compared to other wines, and the secret lies in the process of making it:

“It does cost a little bit more because the method to make ice wine is difficult,” says O’Neill, “The grapes have to stay one the vine, they have to freeze, and they have to be pressed frozen.”

The winery is getting ready for its annual New York Ice Wine and Culinary Festival. The event is a celebration of some of the state’s award-winning ice wines. They are featured, tasted, and talked about by wine lovers from both the local area and from across the country.

“You go around and there’s all different types of food that have been infused with ice wine, or ice wine has been used in the recipe,” says O’Neill. “We also have music, we have seminars going on.”

Nine wineries will have their ice wines available for tasting, according to Casa Larga's website: Barnstormer Winery; Boundary Breaks Vineyard; Casa Larga Vineyards; Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards; Hunt Country Vineyards; Leonard Oakes Estate Winery; Mazza Chautauqua Cellars; Midnight Run Wine Cellars; and Schulze Vineyards & Winery.

The New York State Ice Wine and Culinary Festival will be on Saturday, Feb. 11, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Casa Larga Vineyards on Turk Hill Road in Fairport. Tickets are $55 in advance and are available at Wegmans, Casa Larga, or online at Casa Larga’s website. 

If you go

WHAT New York Ice Wine and Culinary Festival

WHEN Saturday, Feb. 11, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

WHERE Casa Larga Vineyards, Turk Hill Road, Fairport

TICKETS $55 in advance; available at Wegmans, Casa Larga, or www.casalarga.com