Friday, January 15, 2010
German Wine makers in the World: Johann Schiller in Canada
Canada is an emerging wine country. Like other New World wine producing countries, Canada's winemaking history dates back 200 years when early settlers came from Europe. They initially tried to grow the European vitis vinifera grapes, but without success. Until a few years ago, only American grapes and hybrid grapes were grown.
Canada also went through a period of prohibition, like the US, which greatly hindered the wine industry. This changed only in the last quarter of the last century, when wine making started to take off, leading to a phenomenal growth of the wine industry.
The story of Canadian wine is said to have began with Johann Schiller, a German who served with the 29th Regiment of Foot in Quebec in 1784. By 1811 he had moved to Ontario Niagara region obtaining 400 acres. Having worked at winemaking in the Rhine valley, he began growing grapes and producing his own wine. He obtained hybrids from Pennsylvania and began to supply the needs of his neighbors. His wines were very much appreciated. He is considered to be the father of Canadian wines Industry. Schiller died in 1816.
Picture: Christian G.E.Schiller
Johann Schiller's sons sold the property. It was sold again in 1864 bought by an aristocratic Frenchman, Justin de Courtenay, who had unsuccessfully tried to replicate the taste of red Burgundy in Quebec. He had better luck in Ontario and his Gamay won a prize at the 1867 Paris Exposition.
For many years it was believed that vitis vinifera grapes could not survive the rigors of Canadian winters and the freeze-thaw-freeze cycle of early spring. As a result, the majority of plantings in Ontario were (and still are) the winter-hardy North American labrusca varieties (such as Concord and Niagara, now only used for processing in the food industry) and early-ripening, winter-resistant hybrids, such as Vidal, Seyval Blanc, Baco Noir and Marechal Foch.
Picture: Canada's wine regions
There are now two booming wine regions in Canada, British Columbia in the west and southern Ontario in the east. The Okanagan Valley is the predominant wine growing region in British Colombia as is the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario.
The Okanagan Valley wine boom is part of the larger North West American wine story that has been unfolding in the past 30 years, starting with Oregon in the US, and then moving up to Washington State and now to British Columbia in Canada.
The Niagara Peninsula wine story is largely one of ice wine, that have gained world wide reputation, with Illiskin being the leading producer. Canada’s cool climatic conditions enable it to be the largest ice wine producer in the world. Although both Germany and Austria are large ice wine producers, their climates are not as consistently cold as is Canada’s to guarantee ice wine production every year. Canada produces over 2 million 375ml bottles of ice wine annually. An Illiskin icewine was served in December 2009 at the occasion of the Nobel Prize Banquet in Stockholm.
This is part of the series German wine makers in the world:
Wolf Blass in Australia
Swiss-German Donald Hess, US, Argentina, Chile, South Africa, Australia
Hermann J. Wiemer, Finger Lakes, US
Anton (Antoine) Mueller, 1800s,France,
Dr. Konstantin Frank, 1900s,USA
Christian Woelffer and Roman Roth, USA
Robert Anton Schlumberger, 1800s, Austria
Robert Stemmler, USA
Eduard Werle, 1800s, France
Schiller Wine - Related Postings
Wine event: The Wines at the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Banquet in Honor of President Obama in Oslo
2009 German Eiswein - icewine - was harvested on December 18 and 19