In the early 1970s, many believed that growing vinifera grape varieties, a staple of the European wine world, wasn't possible in Canada with its long and cold winters.
Austrian immigrant and winemaker Karl Kaiser began experimenting and creating wines in southern Ontario's Niagara Peninsula. He shared his wines with nursery owner Donald Ziraldo, who couldn't believe what he was tasting, and it wasn’t long before the two men combined their talents, ultimately changing the trajectory of the Canadian wine industry.
In 1975 the new partners created Inniskillin Winery and were awarded the first winery license in the region since prohibition. Among Karl Kaiser’s many interests was the belief that he could grow a version of German Eiswein, something he encountered in his native Austria. With great determination and plenty of trial and error, Inniskillin produced its first icewine in 1984. Just seven years later, in 1991, the 1989 vintage astonished the international wine world by winning the top prize at VinExpo, the Bordeaux-based wine trade show that was at the epicentre of wine at the time. Canada was not too cold for fine wine, after all.
In our latest GOW Short Film Series, we explore Canadian icewine in three videos, the first episode, displayed below, looks at the history and genesis of the wine industry in the country and the important role icewine played. Chapter two looks at the trial and tribulations that came with learning how to harvest grapes in sub-zero temperatures. The finale is all about cooking with icewine with Inniskillin chef Tim Mackiddie who demonstrates some of his most popular Icewine recipes using the beverage, and he shares his favourite pairings.
Part Two: Harvesting Icewine
Part Three: Cooking with Icewine