Niagara Ice Wine Festival Ontario Canada - Inniskillin Ice Wine

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Niagara Ice Wine Festival Ontario Canada - Inniskillin Ice Wine
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Canadian Icewine - Niagara Ice Wine Festival - Inniskillin Ice Wine

Niagara Ice Wine Festival - Inniskillin Ice Wine

by Wade Rowland - Part 3

Then we were off in our trusty Subaru to visit some of the 33 wineries listed on our weekend passport as offering special icewine-themed events.

Even with a four-wheel drive vehicle, driving conditions were unpredictable enough that we decided to stick close to town, stopping first at the little Reif Estate winery just on the outskirts for a pairing of their icewines with Benedictine Blue cheese, a classic combo.

Karl Kaiser - Co-founder of Inniskillin Wines
Karl Kaiser
Co-founder of Inniskillin Wines
Photo © Christine Collie

Just down the road at the Inniskillin winery (where they host an astonishing 300,000 visitors a year) we had the privilege of sitting down over a flight of icewines with winery co-founder Karl Kaiser, perhaps the country's leading authority on the delicious but devilishly difficulty-to-produce product. It was an Inniskillin icewine that won that 1991 Grand Prix d'Honneur at the Bordeaux Vinexpo, putting the uniquely Canadian wine on the radar of oenophiles everywhere.

The wines have gone on to collect a truckload of awards and now account for a substantial portion of most Ontario wineries' annual incomes (20 percent, in the case of industry leader Inniskillin). At airport duty free shops around the world, they are now the best-selling premium alcohol, beating out the likes of Irish whiskeys and vintage champagnes.

At a small winery like Reif estates, a 1995 harvest of about 100 tonnes of grapes from twelve acres of vines left hanging will yield somewhere in the neighbourhood of 10,000 litres of icewine. This will sell for up to and beyond $50 Cdn a 375 ml bottle when it's ready. Rare and exceptional vintages can go for more than $100.

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