After a two-year hiatus from the wine industry, Donald Ziraldo, formerly of Inniskillin Wines in Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula, is back in business with an ice wine. "There's just too much in the industry that kind of sucks you back in again," he said.
I first met Ziraldo in 1986, while living and working in Toronto. Eleven years earlier, he cofounded Inniskillin, the first Ontario winery to receive a license since Prohibition ended in 1929. Thus began the rejuvenation of the Canadian wine industry.
Over the years, he expanded into British Columbia with Inniskillin Okanagan, and purchased a vineyard in Napa Valley. Inniskillin eventually merged with Cartier Wines and Beverages and, after acquiring T.G. Bright & Co. in 1993, changed the name to Vincor International. In 2006, Vincor was swallowed up by Constellation Brands.
Ziraldo was seduced by some ice wine juice from the 2007 vintage. "A buddy of mine up the road in Vineland, [John Howard], who used to own Vineland Estates, had a little extra ice wine so I was going to help him sell it," he explained. "I tasted it and loved the stuff. It was Riesling and it had that beautiful peach aroma that I only ever saw in the Okanagan [British Columbia], where it's much hotter. 2007 [in Niagara] was a really hot vintage."
After two deals fell through, Ziraldo played with the packaging (designed by Max Kaiser, the son of Ziraldo's former partner and longtime Inniskillin winemaker Karl Kaiser) and decided to register the brand himself.
"I felt bad for John [Howard] because I said I would sell it so I said to him you know what, I'll put my name on it and sell it bottle by bottle."
|Donald Ziraldo is back in the ice wine game, with style.|
Andrew Bernardo — Halifax, Nova Scotia — May 8, 2009 4:21pm ET
Bruce Sanderson — New York — May 8, 2009 4:50pm ET
Ian Tarrant — Ontario, Canada — May 10, 2009 9:46pm ET
Bruce Sanderson — New York — May 11, 2009 9:17am ET
William Newell — Buffalo, NY — May 12, 2009 12:36pm ET
Sips & Tips | Wine & Healthy Living
Video Theater | Collecting & Auctions