Driving From Niagara-on-the-Lake to Niagara Falls on scenic Niagara Parkway you cannot help but notice Reif, a small but quality oriented winery with immaculately maintained vineyards just behind imposing buildings.
As a wine enthusiast you owe it to yourself to stop, taste a few of their products, and visit both their winery and vineyards.
Klaus Reif, president and chief winemaker, believes that wine is made in the vineyard. Here you have a perfect sample of properly maintained and scientifically managed vineyards where all vines are pruned to yield the best fruit possible.
The Reif family began the tradition of wine-making in Neustadt am Rhein 13 generations ago and in 1977 decided to buy suitable land on the banks of the Niagara Parkway as Germany’s and European Union’s rules and regulation were strangulating innovation. Although vineyards were planted in 1977, the winery started marketing its first bottles in 1983.
Most wineries start making wines from three-year-old vines, which never yield fine products.
Klaus Reif, president and CEO, studied at the world-famous Geisenheim School of Oenology and Alcohol Beverage Sciences in Germany and likes to make wine with the least amount of interference possible. He says “ you cannot make wine from inferior fruit and as a winemaker you have to aim to be the interpreter of nature.”
His varietal wines are always true to character. When you taste his Riesling or Chardonnay blindfolded, you know exactly what you taste. He makes clean, fresh, fruity and balanced wines. Klaus never purchases fruit from other grape farmers; rather winemakers come to him for premium fruit.
Premium table and dessert wines are the specialty of Reif. His Riesling icewines received many international awards, including the Best Sweet Wine In Canada at the Toronto Wine and CheeseShow.
He is the inventor of the Select Late Harvest wine style derived from the second pressing of icewine grapes. The first Select Late Harvest wine was marketed in 1987 to great acclaim.
Tesoro (50 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 40 percent Merlot and 10 percent Cabernet Franc) Meritage is a Bordeaux-style blend, 50 percent aged in new French oak for 32 months, and the remainder for 40 months in regular white oak casks. Tesoro offers intense aromas of fruit, chocolate, leather and tobacco. The intensity, balance and aftertaste are excellent and age worthy.
By exploring uncharted territory and probing new styles while relying on a firm professional background of time honoured winemaking traditions, Reif has become an innovative, cutting-edge winery and a quality leader setting standards for others.
Roberto di Domenico, a graduate of Guelph University, ably assists Klaus Reif.
Reif winery is dedicated to inventing new and unique ways to produce, fine, high-quality wines for all to enjoy. Recently Klaus purchased a tobacco leaf drying machine and now produces raisins from locally grown grapes, and is experimenting with appassimento techniques to produce more concentrated red wines.
Constantly increasing sales and expanding export markets prove Reif’s philosophy to be correct.
The winery welcomes visitors and offers wine tastings.