NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ont. – It’s hard to hold a great wine man down. Donald Ziraldo — the man responsible for putting Niagara wines on the map — has introduced his first vintage of Riesling Icewine under the Ziraldo label.
In explaining his new project, Ziraldo said, “I want to create a brand honouring Canada’s national treasure working in harmony with, and respecting, the ‘terroir’ of the Niagara region.”
Although he’s been out of the business since selling Inniskilllin to Constellation Wines a few years back, Ziraldo got the itch to return to what he knows best. “It occurred to me that it was time to get back in the wine business. Since I spent the majority of my wine business life selling Icewine around the world, I decided to focus on that.”
To this end, last summer Ziraldo cleared the 60-year-old cherry orchard at SR #58 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, next to the original Inniskillin winery, which he started in 1974, with Karl Kaiser (In 1975 Ziraldo and Kaiser obtained a winery licence for the first time since 1929.).
Ziraldo is excited to be back doing what he loves best, marketing exciting wines. “This spring, in June 2009, I planted an experimental Riesling vineyard with five clones and four rootstocks. The Riesling vineyard will operate utilizing organic practices and we will also investigate other practices such as biological control, biodynamic, integrated pest management and drip irrigation — all of which fall under the umbrella of sustainability.” Ziraldo has invited Dr. Andy Reynolds of Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture and Dr. Michael Brownbridge, director of the Vineland Research and Innovation Center to supervise the experimental vineyard.
The catalyst for Ziraldo’s inaugural Icewine was the 2007 vintage, considered the best in a decade, due to ideal weather conditions. According to Ziraldo, “the hot summer resulted in optimum fruit ripeness. It produced a unique Icewine, which expressed itself with a luscious peach overtone in the nose. As stated in the packaging, I asked Karl Kaiser to supervise the final vinification.”
The Icewine, bottled in May of 2009, produced 400 cases. It will be available in select liquor stores and restaurants Nov. 21.