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Reif Estate Winery
by
K. L. Sullivan

Summary: Be sure to check out the Sensory Garden located just outside the tasting room doors. Reif Estate Winery is a winery where good winemaking is about keeping “the good old (practices) and combining it with the good new." Buy local is an important concept for Reif. In the tasting room, visitors will discover local cheeses available for tasting with wines. Klaus Reif believes that the “best wine is the one you like best.”

Reif Estate WineryCurrently Reif Estate Winery is in the hands of Klaus Reif, who is the 13th generation focused on winemaking. The Reif family has been involved with producing wine for 300 years. Today Klaus is the president and winemaker. Klaus is enthusiastic and passionate about the winemaking. He is proud of his heritage. It was in 1977 that Ewald Reif, Klaus’ uncle, arrived in Canada from Germany and purchased 80 acres. In 1978, Klaus and his father came to Canada and fell in love with the country. His father saw the opportunity to begin a winery in Canada. They obtained a winery license in 1983 and they opened the retail store in 1987. Klaus arrived to help run the winery after studying winemaking in Germany. His early winemaking career began at his father’s winery when Klaus was eight years old. Klaus wanted to make wine like his father, so he filled wine bottles with grape juice and corked the bottles. He then hid the bottles behind one of his father’s casks. A few days later, Klaus discovered that some of the bottles exploded and corks flew out of the others. His studies of winemaking continued from then on.

Klaus recounted having to change the image of Canadian wine from negative to a positive image. Klaus related an incident in the early years of Reif Estate. A visitor arrived at a wine festival and wanted to taste a wine. Any wine would do but not a Canadian wine. Ultimately Klaus poured a Chardonnay that the visitor pronounced as very good. He was astonished to learn that the wine was Canadian.

Reif Estate WineryToday the winery is 26 years old and has a total of 137 acres of vineyards. One hundred and twenty seven acres are located at the winery. The vineyards produce 600 tons of grapes and the winery produces 35,000 cases of wine. The vineyards have a drain along the vines to drain excess water and there is an irrigation system in the event of drought.

Outside of the tasting room doors is a Sensory Garden. The Sensory garden has four elements. The colors of the four areas represent the four different colors of wine. People can smell the aromatics in the garden and compare them to the aromatics in a wine. Visitors are encouraged to compare different wines with the various plants growing in each section of the garden. The Sensory Garden “brings nature all together.” Three of the four gardens are pictured below. Chardonnay and Vidal Icewine are associated with the first image. The second garden image suggests Pinot Noir with the light colored red foliage. The third picture has darker red and purple plants reminiscent of full bodied reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon.

Reif Estate Winery   Reif Estate Winery   Reif Estate Winery

Reif Estate WineryInside the tasting room, visitors will discover two small tasting areas and a large rectangular tasting counter. Decorative copper tiles line the ceiling. Dark wood adds elegance to the tasting room. Spiegelau wineglasses are used for tastings. Local cheese is available for pairing with wines. Reif Estate Winery encourages people to buy locally in order to reduce the carbon footprint.

One side of the tasting counter provides cushioned stools with backs. Special wine tastings take place on this side. Three flights are available to choose from including the Sensory Wine Experience, Taste the Terroir and Artisan Wine & Cheese Pairings. We participated in the Artisan Wine & Cheese Pairings.

 

Reif Estate WineryThe 2006 Chenin Blanc was a light yellow color with a nose of honeysuckle and melon. The taste was of tropical fruits while there was honey on the aftertaste. This wine was paired with the local Casata cheese, a soft cheese. The Casata enhanced the aftertaste of the wine. The 2006 Chardonnay Reserve had a yellow color. There was an oak nose. The taste was smooth, medium bodied with oak and vanilla nuances. The aftertaste was of butter and vanilla and the oak faded. The wine was paired with Comfort Cream, a very creamy cheese. The wine’s acid cut the cheese and the cheese slightly sweetened the wine’s finish. The 2006 Merlot Reserve had a dark ruby red opaque color. The nose was of red berries and a touch of oak. The taste was of red berries and the finish was crisp and smooth with tannins. The wine was paired with sheep cheddar cheese. The cheese balanced well with the wine’s tannins. The dessert wine, 2006 Vidal Icewine, had a dark golden color. The nose was honey and the taste was full bodied with tropical fruit. The icewine had a crisp finish with a lingering honey aftertaste. This wine was paired with bleu cheese. The wine cut the saltiness of the cheese and the cheese slightly cut the wine’s sweetness.

Reif Estate WineryReif Estate WineryReif Estate Winery is proud of the wines it produces. By managing their own vineyards and all other operations including printing their own labels, they are able to control the quality of their wines. With both old world and new world experience, Klaus likes to use the best of both. Reif Estate recently acquired a new filter that Klaus believes is the best. In the barrel room, visitors will discover old wine barrels from Germany. Klaus uses American, Hungarian and French oak barrels.

When you visit Reif Estate Winery, and have a “sweet tooth” be sure to try an Icewine. The Vidal Icewine is very sweet and is accompanied by flavorful nuances.

Reif Estate Winery
15608 Niagara Parkway
Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

GPS N 43° 21.728' W079° 06.190'

 


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