Made in Michiana: 12 Corners uses bitter cold to harvest grapes for Ice Wine

Made in Michiana: 12 Corners uses bitter cold to harvest grapes for Ice Wine


Wine has been crafted for thousands of years!

With so many options to choose from now it can be hard to stand out.

On 115 acres of land in Benton Harbor, you’ll find a winery that is trying to do just that! Where five roads cross paths that’s where you’ll find 12 Corners Vineyards.

Gloria Oberst, an operations manager for the winery, has been with the company since the beginning. She’s seen it grow and expand, “Our flagship was in South Haven. we opened that about 7 years ago and in 2012 we opened Benton Harbor, officially opened, it took about a year to build. We opened Grand Haven about 4 years ago.”

There is one wine made here in Michiana not just anyone can offer… Ice Wine.

12 Corners Vineyards has already won gold medals for this very special wine and for the last six years, their winemaker Glen Greiffendorf has been perfecting it.

Glen says that he was lucky to be inspired by the Niagara region in Ontario. That's where learned how they were made Ice Wine and brought it back to right here in Michiana. 

Like in the name, the grapes that make up ice wine are picked in the bitter cold and icy winter months! Glen says the perfect range in his opinion is about 13 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit and if it's that cold at midnight then they can come in first thing in the morning to pick the frozen grapes. So when temperatures are just right, Glen and his crew march through the snow to pick the grapes.

Glen says they need special equipment just to collect the juice, 

"We have a real high pressure press, it goes up to 90 psi. It’s about five times more powerful than our normal grape press because the grapes are frozen like marbles, we have to get every little bit of juice we can out of it.”

Say you had one bottle of wine - if those grapes had been frozen, you would only be able to fill one fourth of that same bottle. That’s because the juice collected from the icy grapes is highly concentrated.

While Michigan does create the perfect cold atmosphere for the grapes used in ice wine - the more mild beginnings to the winters have made it tough.

The last three out of four seasons, they had to wait until January to get the cold temperatures. Only once they were able to harvest in December a

nd the longer the grapes are on the vine, the harder it is on them.

Glen says, "It's real stressful for the plant to hold the fruit that long into the season. That’s typically why we rotate the rows we use year by year.”

No matter how late into the winter season it’s harvested, Glen says the outcome from the frozen grapes are an experience unlike any other.

"It’s really sweet, it’s got a real nice caramel, vanilla, apple pie flavor."


If you’re craving a dessert with some bubbly to it -- they now offer a sparkling ice wine too!

You can stop by any of their tasting rooms for a sample or take a bottle to go home with you.

You’ll find them locally at Martins in Southwest Michigan, Roger's Foodland and a number of liquor stores. You can also have the wine shipped to the comfort of your home by ordering online. 

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