Inniskillin | Niagra
Established in 1975 by Austrian chemist Karl Kaiser and Italian-Canadian agriculture graduate Donald Ziraldo, Inniskillin are synonymous with top-quality Icewine, a fact underlined by the numerous awards they have won. Following Karl Kaiser's retirement in 2006, Bruce Nicholson joined Inniskillin in Niagara as senior winemaker and has become Canada's most awarded winemaker, with many awards including the Gran Premio from Vinitaly for his Icewine, in addition to being twice named Top Winemaker at the San Francisco International Wine Challenge.
The harvest of the precious Icewine grapes cannot begin until temperatures drop below -8°C for a sustained period of time. Inniskillin does not pick at temperatures warmer than -10°C, which reduces yields and increases quality; the frozen clusters are often harvested in the dead of night. The grapes are pressed immediately while their water content is frozen in crystals, leaving only a few coveted drops of concentrated, intense liquid, which is then fermented slowly over the following months to become Icewine.
Inniskillin consistently sets the bar much higher than its competitors. Although the VQA sets the minimum Brix level at harvest at 35 degrees, Inniskillin generally harvests at between 40 and 42 degrees and, instead of a minimum of 18% of residual sugar, Inniskillin's wines have between 22 - 28%. As a result, the wines are richer, more intense and certainly merit their higher price tag.