Making Late Harvest Wines: Tips from the Pros

Late harvest wines are made using grapes affected by the mold Botrytis, which dehydrates the grapes. We’ve pooled advice from three pros with numerous accolades for their dessert wines to help you make an award-winning late harvest wine at home. Joe Hudon is entering his 5th harvest as the Winemaker at Claar Cellars, an estate winery atop the White Bluffs area of the Columbia River in Pasco, Washington. Joe has been in the wine industry since 2001, working domestically at wineries in Washington and California, as well as at wineries in New Zealand and Australia. We use Riesling grapes for our late harvest and icewines because it provides the right balance of fruit, sweetness and acidity. The fruit often contains apricot, dried figs, dried apples, harvested wheat, and nutty aromas and flavors. We leave the grapes out until they begin to fall off the vine or achieve a minimum of 25 °Brix and look for the flavor profile to shift from fresh, floral notes to the decadent dried/jam-like fruit notes. With riper fruit comes increased protein content, Botrytis mold, bunch rot,