Chalet Debonne Vineyards has received the 2015 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition’s Sweepstakes Award for Dessert Wine.

The San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is the largest competition of American wines in the world. Nearly 6,300 wines were entered in this year’s event. The Sweepstakes Award is presented for the wine considered the best dessert wine out of all the gold medal winning wines in the event.

Debonne Vineyards entered an ice wine with an unusual story. Debonne Vineyards winemaker Ed Trebets said the Vidal Blanc grapes were picked in December of 2013 — just before the Polar Vortex of 2014. “We picked the grapes on Dec. 12, which is early for an ice wine harvest,” he said. “As a result there was a good balance of acidity and ripeness. It was the perfect timing for the perfect juice.” Trebets said he was surprised to have won the Sweepstakes Award because it is very difficult to win.

“We’ve entered before, but not recently,” he said. “It seems like only every 10 years you do well. Really, it’s something every winemaker wants to achieve. It brings a lot of recognition to our wines.”

Debonne Vineyards owner Tony Debevc said true ice wine is only produced in a few regions in the world. Before harvesting, temperatures must be 17 degrees or lower and the grapes must be hand picked and pressed while frozen. The ice wine sugars occur naturally during the freezing process, and there is never any artificial freezing,he said.

“This Vidal Blanc Ice Wine is truly a special vintage,” he said. “Vidal Blanc is a varietal and no local varietals made it through the Polar Vortex of 2013/2014. It has taken other awards too.”

The Debonne Ice Wine has garnered top honors as Best Ice Wine in the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, Best of Show in the Pacific Rim International Wine Competition, Best of Show in the Ohio Wine Competition, Best Craft Wine in the Craft Beverage Competition and other awards.