Warming Up to Icewine at Canada’s Inniskillin

Wineries conjure images of vineyards on sunny, warm hills, but the Icewine of Inniskillin is born in the cold.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

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When vino lovers imagine wineries, they picture the warm rolling hills of Napa Valley or sun-drenched stretches of southern France. But, there’s a vintner in southeastern Canada that relies on the unforgiving Ontario winter to produce some of the lightest, sweetest wines available.

The Inniskillin Winery, a short drive from Niagara Falls, is one of the world’s epicenters for Icewine – a self-described breed of winter-fused adult beverage.

Related: Cocktails at Kohler’s Immigrant, Winery

Traditional wine grapes mature through hot summer days and cooler nights. Come the autumn, harvesters bring the grapes to the press before their combined juices head to takes to ferment.

For icemen, those same grapes ripen through autumn and wait for the frost of winter. Once the grapes are frozen through on the wine, icewine makers harvest the grapes. The freezing process concentrates the natural sugars within the grapes, making for a light, sweet dessert wine following fermentation.

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The freezing process reduces the amount of juice available from each grape, meaning the overall wine produced is less. The resulting icewine is therefore more precious and offered in limited supply. Sold in smaller bottles and intended for after dinner sipping like a Muscat or a Riesling.

If you can’t make it to Ontario, Inniskillin does mail order. Get yourself a bottle and treat it well.