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At Vinitaly In Verona, Italy


Inniskillin, the Canadian Icewine won the top prize at the 17th Annual International Wine Competition at Vinitaly: “The Premio Speciale Gran Vinitaly 2009”. The special prize for top producer at the show is considered to be the wine industry’s “world cup”. Vinitaly, held in Verona, is the largest and one of the most prestigious annual wine competitions, attracting the global wine elite.

To qualify for the "Premio Speciale Gran Vinitaly, " a winery must receive two gold medals in two different categories. Inniskillin received a gold medal for Inniskillin 2006 Sparkling Vidal and Inniskillin 2006 Vidal Gold Oak Aged icewines. Three additional Inniskillin wines received a “Gran Menzione” award: the Inniskillin 2007 Riesling Icewine, the Inniskillin 2007 Vidal Icewine and the Inniskillin 2007 Montague Vineyard Chardonnay.

Out of 3,539 entries, only 113 medals - 3% of the wines - were handed this year at the highly selective wine competition, approved by OIV - (Organisation Internationale de la Vigne et du Vin) the International Organization of Vine and Wine.

Inniskillin Vidal Ice wine had won a Grand Prix d'Honneur at Vinexpo in Bordeaux in 1991, which put Niagara and the Canadian wine industry on the world map.

Co-founder Donald Ziraldo, who retired as the President of the company in 2006, was in Verona to receive the award. Inniskillin was founded in 1975, by Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser and is now a part of Constellation Brands.

Making Inniskillin Icewine in the Niagara Peninsula and the Okanagan Valley

To make Icewine in both the Niagara Peninsula and the Okanagan Valley, grapes are left on the vine well into the winter months, sometimes till late January, to concentrate and intensify the flavors, as water content freezes, thaws and dehydrates each grape.

The harvest can't begin until temperatures drop below minus eight degrees Celsius for a sustained period of time. There are rigorous specifications regulating the making of Icewine set out by Canada 's quality control board, the VQA (Vintner's Quality Alliance). Artificial freezing of the grapes is strictly prohibited.

To see a video of Icewine-making, log on to

Once the extreme temperatures arrive, Icewine pickers arrive, often in the dead of night, to harvest the frozen clusters. The grapes are immediately pressed in the extreme cold. In this process, the water content in each grape remains frozen in crystals, leaving only a few drops of concentrated, intense liquid. Icewine yields are a mere 10-15% of an average table wine harvest. Slowly fermented over the coming months, this delicate nectar will eventually become Icewine. The finished Icewine is intense, sweet and sumptuous, yet balanced with brilliant acidity, creating a unique sensation on the palate.

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