A diversity of wine styles abound in the Niagara River sub-appellation. On your next trip to wine country, don’t miss these wineries for their history, tradition and of course great wine!
Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser founded Inniskillin in 1975. Being the first winery to obtain a license post-Prohibition, there was a lot of experimental winemaking in the early years. One of these experiments was the creation of one of the first Canadian Icewines, now our most famous export. Winemaker Bruce Nicholson joined the Niagara Estate winery in 2007 after an outstanding career at Jackson-Triggs Okanagan. Driven by his love of wine, Nicholson is meticulous in his approach and has gained recognition in the international arena. Along with award-winning Icewine, one of Inniskillin's most notable wines is their Montague Vineyard Pinot Noir. The grapes for this wine come from one of their highest quality vineyards, selected for its high-quality Pinot since the late 1990’s. The wine spends 18 months in a mixture of new and used French oak, making it the longest aged wine on their tasting menu. In the best vintages, this wine can age 10-15 years or more.
In 1975, Sam and Lina Pillitteri purchased the farm property that is now Riverview, and started selling fruit from a small fruit stand built in the early 1920’s. Over the years the ageing fruit trees were dying off, so vinifera grapevines were planted in their place starting in 1992. Once the vineyard was established, the winery opened in 2000. Riverview's most notable wines are Gewurztraminer and Cabernet Sauvignon. The awarding winning Gewurztraminer was the first grape planted in 1992 and shows a great depth of complex flavours. Riverview's Cabernet Sauvignon was first planted in 1998. Growing in the Niagara River sub-appellation, this heat-loving grape enjoys one of the warmest pockets in the region, which is essential to good ripening. The grapes are grown in blue clay loam and sand, providing excellent drainage to keep the grapes concentrated with intense flavours.
Peller Estates Winery & Restaurant officially opened in 2001. Five years later the company celebrated its 46th anniversary with a name change from Andrés Wines Ltd. to Andrew Peller Limited, in honour of its founder. Peller Estates owns approximately 300 acres of vineyards and buys more than 4,000 tons of grapes from 38 local farmers, playing a major role in the economy of Niagara wine country. At the winery, Winemaker Katie Dickieson and Executive Chef Jason Parsons work together to create Canada's most innovative wine and food experiences. Don’t miss the 10Below Icewine Lounge, made of more than 15,000KG of ice, where you can don a parka to taste their internationally acclaimed Icewines. In 2014 the winery was named WineAlign Winery of the Year. Two wines to try: Ice Cuvee Classic, a traditional method sparkling that captures the classic sparkling varietals of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with the special addition of Vidal Blanc Icewine and Andrew Peller Signature Series Cabernet Franc from the Carlton vineyard in the heart of Four Mile Creek.
Anjana Viswanatha [Sommelier CAPS, CMS] is the founder of Wednesday Night Wine (www.wednesdaynightwine.ca), the sommelier at Bacchanal in Toronto, a wine instructor at George Brown College and Marketing Manager for Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake (www.winieriesofniagaraonthelake.com, @niagarawine on Twitter and Instagram, @wineriesofniagaraonthelake on Facebook). Get in touch with Anjana: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Instagram @wednesdaynightwine.