North America`s first officially produced commercial icewine which was in the year of 1978
Photo provided by ©Walter Huber Haine Estate Winery
Mr. Hainle was born in Germany and immigrated to Canada in 1970, he established his winery in 1988 and
offered for sale his 1978 vintage icewine.
The winery is located in the small community of Peachland in
British Columbia's Okanagan.
For almost twenty years, only two wineries made icewine on a regular basis: Hainle in the Okanagan and
St. Laszlo in the Similkameen Valley.
Back in Ontario
Despite having been first produced in British Columbia, it was in Ontario that the Icewine industry began to flourish. In 1982, Peter Gamble, a young winemaker from Hillebrand Estates (started in 1979 as Newark wines) tried to make icewine for his personal use, but an unfortunate accident spoiled the experiment. A year later, icewine caught the attention of Donald Ziraldo, the co-founder of Inniskillin Wines, and Karl Kaiser, his winemaker and business partner. They set aside a few rows of Vidal for late harvesting. Ewald Reif of Reif Winery and Walter Strehn of Pelee Island Winery also agreed to set aside grapes just for icewine. also joining them was Hillebrand winery under Dr. Joseph Pohorly and the above mentioned Peter Gamble.
Dr. Joseph Pohorly was one of the first winery owners in Niagara. He founded Newark Winery in the Village of Virgil in 1979, one of the three original cottage wineries that opened in Niagara in the '70s and laid the foundation for the growth of the new Ontario wine industry. Joseph himself was no stranger to wines. Born in Vineland, Ontario, he began life as a farmer's son and learned how to grow grapes and other fruit crops from an early age, gaining an appreciation and knowledge of the land, of our geography and climate, and of the unique characteristics that make this viticultural area special. In 1983, Joseph made the first Icewine for Hillebrand and, in the process, became of the early Canadian Icewine pioneers. By the following year, almost every winery in Niagara was leaving grapes hanging on the vines to create the luscious nectar that would become the darling of the industry.
Working at Hillebrand in 1983 was winemaker Andreas Gestaltner. Peter Gamble was the plant manger who worked has a temporary winemaker before Gestaltner arrived. Bernhard Breuers was a famous German winemaker who owned a family winery in the Rheingau and work as a consultant for Scholl and Hillebrand in the Rhiengau. the company that purchased Newark. He may have responsiable for promoting the idea of making icewine
In 1983, Hillebrand grapes were picked in the late fall and left in boxes in a cold room. They were brought outside in December when the temperatures were -10C. Since we were the first winery ( see Pelee Island) ever to make Icewine, there was no playbook to follow so people did what they thought was the right thing to do. That's what pioneers do. From 1984 onwards, they were frozen on the vine
Walter Strehn the winemaker at Pelee Island was among serval to join with Dr Pohorly to make icewine from their own vineyard
In 1983, Karl Kaiser made a mistake. He didn't net the grapes left hanging past autumn harvest – grape intended for the winter Icewine production. That winter was early and cold and the birds were hungry. And early one morning, when the air was chilling and the ground snow-covered, there wasn't much for the birds or animals to forage. The grapes became a meal for wildlife. And the Icewine crop was lost.
The same was true of Reif winery They two failed to harvest and produce a Icewine in 83.
This left only Hillebrand and Pelee Island who both claim to have bottled and sold icewine.
Here we also find a mjor differnce Hillebrand harvest then froze the grapes Pelee Island although nature to free the grapes then harvest.
Brights' first commercial release labeled Eiswein was the 1986 vintage, in 1987 the name was changed
Today, netting is standard practice in the vineyards. Karl not only learned that lesson, he innovated other viticultural and winemaking techniques so subsequent harvests produced better and better wines. Within five years, Karl experienced a complete reversal of fortune. The 1989 harvest, culled from an early freeze recorded on December 4, produced the vintage that changed the Canadian wine industry and propelled Inniskillin Wines, and Karl, into the international spotlight. At the 1991 Vinexpo in Bordeaux, France, Inniskillin's Vidal Icewine was awarded the competition's highest accolade – Le Grand Prix d'Honneur
Although their first attempts were not successful, but by adding nets the following year,
Inniskillin leaped to the forefront of an historic beginning for the wines of Canada. Persistence paid off!
Today, Inniskillin Wines is a world leader in the production and sales of Icewine.
In a June 1991 fair at Vinexpo, Bordeaux, the greatest of international accolades for Canadian Icewine
was bestowed on Inniskillin's 1989 Icewine. This wine, judged by an international panel, was accorded the
fair's highest award, Le Grand Prix d'Honneur.
In 1975, John Paroschya, a young wine scientist, was sent to Germany by Brights to earn his doctorate.
Part of his program had him picking frozen grapes for Eiswein. John concluded that the Canadian winters
were more favourable for producing icewine than Germany's. Upon returning to Canada, he experimented with
Vidal grapes. After Paroschya moved on to Chateau des Charmes in 1982, Ray Cornal continued his work at Brights.
They made Vidal Icewine in 1983 and 1984, selling it under the label of Brights Research Cellars, sold only at
the Niagara Falls retail store.
Ontario Icewine strikes gold at Vinexpo in Bordeaux, France. 1991.
Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser played a major role in the development and success of Canada's icewines.
Other wineries also took the plunge, including Walter Schmoranz, wine master and president of Pelee
Island. His 2002 Cabernet Franc Icewine was winner of the Citadelle de France Gold Medal. Royal de Maria
exclusively produces Icewine from a number of vitis vinifera varieties including Riesling, Chardonnay,
Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Pillitteri Estate, which holds the title as the world's
largest estate producer of icewine, is currently the first winery in the world to commercially produce a
St. Laszlo Vineyards
Estate Winery Joe Ritlop may have produced an icewine in the 70's but he never promoted it for commercial use.
Back in BC, winemakers like Howard Soon (Calona Vineyards), Sandra Oldfield (Tinhorn Creek) and
Paradise Ranch, who specialize in making only icewines, led the way.
Nova Scotia, with fewer wineries than BC and Ontario, is also becoming a noted producer of Icewine. Jost Vineyards
as been producing Nova Scotia Icewine since 1985. Jost Vineyards' 1999 Vidal Icewine was declared Canada's
Wine of the Year at the All-Canadian Wine Championships held in Ontario. This is the first time in the 20
year history of the championships that a Nova Scotia winery has won this prestigious award.
We may have missed some winemakers and wineries who have greatly contributed to the production of Icewine in Canada, but the story has not ended. From time to time www.winesofcanada.com will add to the history of Icewine in Canada. We have not mentioned the Icewines of Quebec, nor have we mentioned fruit wines. There are also the International award-winning Royal DeMaria Wines. Their contributions are making Canadian Icewines famous around the globe. Royal DeMaria makes 12 varieties.
In Quebec, Chapelle Sainte Agnès in Sutton planted vineyards in 1997, comprised of riesling, vidal, gewürztraminer and other grapes, precisely to focus on Icewine.
Icewines can be made from a variety of grapes. Riesling is the the premier variety for making Icewine. Vidal is a hardy grape and very popular in Ontario. Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Gamay, Merlot and Kerner are all used in making Canadian Icewines.
Is it Icewine or ice wine? It really does not matter. In Canada the term most often used is Icewine (we have standardized the word's capitalization), where in Europe those writing in English use ice wine.
Year after year, Canada's wineries are awarded gold medals throughout the world for their quality Icewines. Year after year, Canada's winemakers strive to produce better wines, challenging themselves and each other to produce this liquid gold.
We would like to thank author John Schreiner for his continuous contributions to this website.* We have contact most of the wineries involved in the early winemaking history. Some responded some did not. The research continues.
In 1999 Pillitteri Estates was the first producer to create a successful Merlot Icewine. In 2004, they created the world's first Shiraz Icewine, followed in 2007, the world's first Sangiovese Icewine and in 2008, first sparkling Cabernet Icewine. Today Pillitteri Estate Winery produces over 13 different styles of Icewine, far more than any other winery in the world. They are considered to be the world's largest producer of Icewine.
There is some references that AdhemarDe Chaunac research chemist for Brights from 1940 -1961 had requested some of these grapes be left on the vine for his personal use. Some he made into late harvest wines and some he allowed to freeze so he could make icewine. It is possiable he was the first
Please see Karl Kaiser ~ Donald Ziraldo ~ History
* Icewine the complete Story, John Schreiner , Warwick Publishing
** From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
*** Tony Aspler, Vintage Canada,McGraw-Hill Ryerson
- Katherine Reid winemaker Joseph Estate.
- Icewine Extreme Winemaking- Donal Ziraldo an Karl Kaiser -Key Potter Books
- John Schriener - wine author.
- Tilman Hainle
- Walter Huber -Haine Winery
- Thilman Haine co founder Hainle winery
- Truis at Hillebrand Estate Winey
- Icewine The Complete Story - John Schreiner
- Andrew Peller Ltd - Sherri Lockwood
- Greg Berti Truis at Hillebrand
- forty or so newspaper articles
Introduction ~ Making
Icewine ~ History ~ Key
Producers ~ Icewine Standards ~ Harvest
Icewine and Food
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