It's been a couple of weeks since my last post, but we've been on vacation! Washington DC was the first trip, and then Kevin, his mother, and I went to NYC and Niagara. It was a fun-filled trip, including Hamilton (yipee!) and seeing the beautiful falls. While in Canada, we went on a day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake and had a tour of the quaint town. This is a large wine region within Ontario, and we had one stop on our itinerary -- Konzelmann Estate Winery. I was mostly excited to try icewine, although I was curious how their table wines fared against what I was used to from other regions.
Konzelmann is a beautiful winery directly on Lake Ontario. Konzelmann wines actually began in Germany in 1895. Friedrich Konzelmann was frustrated by how expensive it was to purchase wines from other German winemakers for his restaurant, and since his family had been growing grapes since the 1500s, he decided to make his own wine to serve. He later noticed that people who visited the restaurant loved the wine, but felt the food left something to be desired. Konzelmann decided to shut down his restaurant and focus all of his efforts on wine. The winery had to close during WWII, and once it was over, the Konzelmann family only received a small plot of barren land, so Herbert Konzelmann, the great-grandson of Friedrich, decided to immigrate to Canada.
Once in Canada, Konzelmann purchased a 40 acre peach farm directly on Lake Ontario, which gave rise to their best selling wine today... Peachwine! Yes, that is wine made from peaches! There are no longer peach trees on the property, but they purchase the fruit to make the wine from their neighbor's grove. Spoiler alert: while it doesn't necessarily sound appealing, the Peachwine was actually quite tasty (if you like peaches) and the sweetness was cut by including Chardonnay in the blend. They now grow 17 varietals with the most being Riesling, make 30-35 different types of wines, and have a production of about half a million bottles annually.
On our tour, we got to taste their Canada Red (Cabernet Sauvignon and Zweigelt), Canada White (Riesling), Peachwine, and Vidal icewine. After the tour, the three of us also shared a tasting of their Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Syrah, Sparkling Riesling, and their Vidal Late Harvest. I was surprised by how many I liked as many had more residual sugar than I was used to, but my favorite was the Sparkling Riesling. No surprise there!
I've mentioned their icewine quite a bit, and you may be asking, "What is icewine?!" Icewine is a specialty of Ontario, and they make something like 90% of the world's icewine. Icewine is produced by leaving grapes on the vines to freeze in the winter months of the year. The grapes must be on the vines for three consecutive days of frost and then they can be harvested. The frozen grapes are put through a press, where sometimes as little as a single drop of liquid can be extracted from each grape. The water content is frozen, but the sugar is not, so what is left is a very sweet and concentrated juice. After fermentation, you've got a delicious dessert wine! Since it is very sweet, be sure to only pour a couple of ounces, sip it slowly, and pair it with a sharp cheese or nuts!
If you ever find yourself in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area, definitely check out Konzelmann Estate Winery! What are other regions we should visit?