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Winemaker Karl Kaiser


Biographical Information






• Born in Austria to Karl Sr. and Katharina

• Brought up in private monastery school where viticulture and winemaking were a time-honoured tradition

• After compulsory military service, became a teacher at a vocational school located in an Austrian wine area of Lower Austria and spent his spare time helping in the cellars of a small local wine producer

• Met Silvia, the Canadian granddaughter of the wine producer and married her in Austria in 1967

• Came to Canada in 1969 with Silvia and their first born daughter, Magdalena

• Returned to school and received his B.Sc. in Chemistry and Bio-Chemistry from Brock University , St. Catharines in 1974

• While at school, started buying vines and making his own wine, which led him to meet his future partner, Donald Ziraldo, at Ziraldo Nurseries.

• Shared a dream with his partner of making superior Canadian wine, and decided together to apply for their own winery license, which they achieved in 1975 (the first since 1929)

• As Inniskillin grew, Karl travelled extensively throughout the wine regions of both the “new” and “old” worlds, to expand his knowledge of different winemaking technologies, and their varied applications

• Received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Brock University , in 1994 (in recognition of his achievement in areas including the arts, community service and contributions to the University)

• Karl retired in September 2006. He consults with current Inniskillin Winemaker Bruce Nicholson and also tastes and evaluates older vintages from Inniskillin's wine library. He and stays active with lecturing specifically on Icewine. In 2008 Karl and fellow Co-founder Donald Ziraldo launched their book, ICEWINE: Extreme Winemaking.


Present and Past Corporate and Organizational Roles

• Vice-President (since 1975) Inniskillin Wines Inc., Niagara-on-the-Lake , Ontario

• National Vice President, Quality and Science for Vincor International, Inniskillin's parent company, and responsibility for Quality Assurance and other technical issues for Vincor's eight Canadian winery operations from 2000-2006.

• Professional Member of the American Society for Enology and Viticulture

• Professional Member of the Canadian Society of Oenology and Viticulture

• Past Committee Member of Canadian General Standards Board (for wine standards)

? Member of the President's Council, Brock University

? Director, Ontario Wine Library

? Technical Expert (1 of 4 Canadians), World Wine Trade Group




• Order of Ontario , 1993

• Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from Brock University , in 1994

• “Winemaker of the Year”, Niagara Grape and Wine Festival, 1995

• “Winemaker of the Year”, Royal Bank of Canada , 1995

? Society of Wine Educators Honours Karl J. Kaiser “Modern Pioneer” 1994

• Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's 50 th anniversary Golden Jubilee Award, 2002

? Tony Aspler Award of Excellence, Cuvee 2003

? Winery Award: Niagara College Award, Misty Awards 2004

? First Ontario Wine Society Lifetime Achievement Award 2005

? Vin Cambridge – Award of Excellence, Karl Kaiser and Donald Ziraldo, 2006

• 2009 Distinguished Mathematics & Science Alumni Award , BSc '74 , 2009



Karl has made all wines for Inniskillin from 1974 until 1998. He was responsible for all Icewines made by Inniskillin. During his career of winemaking, he has received numerous prestigious awards, too many to list, with the highlights being the Grand Prix D'Honneur (twice), Vinexpo, Bordeaux, Gold Medal at Concours de Mondial, Bruxelles and the Best Icewine as well as the Best Canadian Winery at the International Wine & Spirits competition, London, England.

In Canada , he is considered to be the foremost master of Icewine. He was invited to present two of Inniskillin's Icewines at the Symposium of the Institute of Masters of Wine (MW) held in Vienna (July 13/2002). Inniskillin was the only Icewine producer from around the globe asked to present at this prestigious symposium.

“Karl’s vision to produce superior Canadian wine cannot be overstated,” says Inniskillin Niagara’s current winemaker Bruce Nicholson. “He travelled extensively to expand his knowledge and brought both old world and new world winemaking technologies and their varied applications to Canada. His long list of prestigious awards and accolades for both table wines and Icewine is a testament to his talent and dedication. Whether it was from international competitors, wine media, the wine community at large or his loyal consumers, Karl was truly respected by all.”

“Karl was truly a pioneer,” says Arterra Wines Canada president and CEO, Jay Wright. “Karl’s passion for winemaking was integral to the fabric of Inniskillin’s rich 40 plus year history, and he helped shape the Canadian wine industry as we know it today. It is because of Karl’s considerable contributions that Canada is recognized worldwide for our award-winning wines.”


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Donald Triggs
Harry McWatters
Donald Ziraldo



~ Deborah Pratt, Winery Public Relations, Great Estates of Niagara Inniskillin - Jackson-Triggs - Le Clos Jordanne
~ Donald Ziraldo
~ Brock University
~ The Wines of Canada- John Schreiner -Mitchell Beazley, Classic Wine Library


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