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Inniskillin's Antarctic Icewine? (July 1, 2003)

It seems April Fool's jokes can take on a life of their own well after the event. This week I heard some serious wine people discussion Inniskillin's Antarctic Icewine - prognosticating about its imminent release for the Christmas market. Here is the press release that was sent out.

Inniskillin Releases Antarctic Icewine
The renowned Icewine experts at Ontario-based Inniskillin have pushed the boundaries of grape growing just about as far as possible, producing an icewine from their new estate vineyard on the Graham Land portion of the Antarctic Peninsula.

Planted three years ago to an exceptionally early-ripening clone of Riesling, the project had been kept top-secret until now, to keep potential competitors in the dark. For its first commercial harvest, Inniskillin workers travelled to the vineyards along with scientific teams from the United States and Britain that are based at the nearby Palmer and Rothera research centres. The grapes were harvested by hand and shipped frozen to the winery on Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada, where they were pressed and fermented.

Despite the short growing season in Antarctica, Inniskillin winemaker Karl Kaiser says conditions for icewine production are close to ideal. "The soil is very stony and infertile, which stresses the vines. And the 'round the clock sunlight during summer means we get great ripeness despite the cool temperatures that keep acidity levels right where we want them. On top of that, we don't have to worry about deer or birds decimating the crop, like might happen back in Canada. As long as you prune the vines to hold the bunches high, the penguins aren't a problem," says Kaiser.

The debut release from the exceptional vintage retails for $1,000/375 mL. But company president Donald Ziraldo expects prices to come down as production expands. Speaking at a penguin-suit reception introducing the wine, he said, "Land is exceptionally inexpensive. And once we get a South Pole winery up and running, processing costs should come down as well."

 

 

 

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