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History

Inniskillin, co-founded by Donald J.P. Ziraldo and Karl J. Kaiser, is located in the town of Niagara-On-The-Lake, Canada, on the Niagara Peninsula. Inniskillin was granted the first estate winery license in Canada. The name Inniskillin is Irish and is derived from the famous Irish regiment, the Inniskilling Fusiliers. Colonel Cooper, a member of this regiment, served in North America in the War of 1812. On completion of his military service, he was granted Crown land which he named the Inniskillin Farm

The first Inniskillin winery was housed in an old packing shed at the family nursery, two kilometers (km) from its current location. As the popularity of their wines grew it was necessary to enlarge the winery 1978, Inniskillin relocated to our present site, The Brae Burn Estate

In 1991 Donald Ziraldo traveled to the Grand Pix d'Honneur Show bringing only their 1989 icewine. It was was the award hear around the world win Inniskillin won the gold.

Senior Winemaker Bruce Nicholson has been recognized as one of the best winemakers globally by International Wine and Spirits Competition, London, England. Jackson-Triggs Okanagan has been named Winery of the year by Wine Access Magazine for two consecutive years ( 2003-2004)

They also have a winery and vineyards in British Columbia's Okanagan Valley

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Vineyards

Originally developed in the cool-climate regions of Europe, the production of Icewine is ideally suited to the climate conditions of Canada’s Niagara Peninsula. Soils on the Niagara Peninsula are generally deep and obtain a considerable amount of essential minerals from different types of bedrock. The moderating effect of Lake Ontario and the Niagara escarpment creates a unique microclimate whose relative mildness allows for the growing of Vitis vinifera grapes. Icewine is produced from French hybrids such as Vidal (the 1989 Inniskillin Icewine award winner) as well as Vitis vinifera grapes which include Riesling and Cabernet Franc.

 

The Growing Season

April: The vines bud.

May–June: The main period of growth which sees flower formation and bloom set.

July: Growth slows and the fruit becomes clearly visible.

August: Veraison, the stage at which the unripe grapes begin to change colour and their sugar content begins to increase.

September–October: Grapes ripen but a left untouched on the vines under a cloak of protective netting.

November-January: Repeated freezing and thawing causes the grapes to dehydrate, thus concentrating the sugars and acids in the juice, and intensifies flavor.

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Winemaking

Harvesting and Pressing

The grapes, having already reached full ripeness in October, are left untouched on the vines under a cloak of protective netting until the first deep freeze of the Canadian winter.  The harvest takes place between December and January, between 10°F and 8°F.  The grapes are either hand-picked or machine harvested in their naturally frozen state, usually during the night.  Despite the protective netting, wind damage and ravaging birds can further reduce the very low yields.

After the frozen grapes have been destemmed and crushed, they are pressed while still frozen – the winery doors left open to maintain the sub-zero temperature. The water in the juice remains frozen as ice crystals during the pressing, and only a few drops of sweet concentrated juice are obtained.

 

Fermentation and Bottling

After racking, the clear juice is inoculated with a pure-strain yeast culture which is responsible for the primary fermentation that changes grape juice into wine. The juice ferments very slowly for several months while aging.  It ceases fermenting naturally between 9 to 10% alcohol by volume. Much of the sugar is left unfermented and is typically around 250 g/l, finding a harmonious balance with acidity levels nearing 10g/l. 

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