Canada has been making wine since the 1800's. But only recently in the 1980's has Canada begun to challenge the rest of the world. There were less than 40 wineries in Canada when I tasted my first bottle of wine. Today there are are over 300 many of which have established their name and this country as a wine producing nation; one that can truly challenge the old world wines. Not just Icewines but for all wines. Visit Wines of Canada for a complete list of Canadian wineries, maps and wine regions.
Canada has numerous microclimate regions that are excellent for producing fine wines. The warm breezes off the Great Lakes provide the Ontario regions; most notable are the Niagara Peninsula and the Lake Erie North Shore with their microclimate. In British Columbia we have the Okanagan Valley with the southern end being Canada's only true desert region. Canada has proven it belongs in the international wine market, winning its share of international competitions. Its whites are almost as famous as its icewines with new strides being made every year with the red wines. The best is yet to come, January 2005 might just be the best year to date for Canada's Icewine.
The discovery of Icewine was accidental. Producers in Franconia, Germany made virtue of necessity by pressing juice from frozen grapes in 1794. They were amazed by the high sugar concentration. It was not until the mid 1800's that Ice wine was intentionally made by the winery. This occured in the Rheingau.
Walter Hainle made the first (very small scale) Icewine in Canada in 1973. The first commercially available Canadian Icewine was made by Hainle Vineyards in 1978. Canada today is the largest producer of this rare, rich and sweet ambrosia, with the lion's share coming from Ontario's Niagara Peninsula.
Grapes are left on the vine well into the winter months. The resulting freezing and thawing of the grapes dehydrates the fruit, and concentrates the sugars, acids, and extracts in the berries, thereby intensifying the flavours and adding complexity to the wine made from it.
The frozen grapes are pressed in the extreme cold. The water in the juice remains frozen as ice crystals, and only a few drops of sweet concentrated juice is obtained. This juice is then fermented very slowly for several months, stopping naturally.
The finished icewine is intensely sweet and flavourful in the initial mouth sensation. The balance is achieved by the acidity, which gives a clean, dry finish. The nose of icewine recalls lychee nuts. The wine tastes of tropical fruits, with shadings of peach nectar and mango.
Visit Wines of Canada for a complete list of Canadian wineries, maps and wine regions.