What profound impact does buying your local wine have on your economy? Why will supporting the “Free My Grapes” campaign improve your choice and access to wine? How have Ontario wines changed since the 80s? What are the biggest challenges facing the Canadian wine industry?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, we’re chatting with Klaus Reif of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Reif Winery.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
- How is the younger generation of Ontario winemakers impacting the industry?
- How has the perception of Ontario wines changed since the 80s?
- What are the four stages in the evolution of Niagara winemaking?
- What can you look forward to on a visit to Reif winery?
- As a wine lover, why should you try Vinea Liqueur?
- How can you make a Vinea Royale?
- Where can you get a bottle of Vinea?
- What new developments should you look out for on the Ontario wine scene?
- What are the biggest challenges facing the Ontario wine industry?
- How does “Free My Grapes” help Canadian wine lovers and winemakers?
- Why should you support your local wine industry?
- What filet mignon and smoked salmon wine pairings are must-try according to Klaus?
- Why is marketing critical in the wine world?
- Why do you have to be careful when using an aerator with old wine?
- How do Niagara winemakers work together as an industry?
- What were the four phases of Ontario winemaking from Klaus’ perspective?
- Why did Robert Mondavi approach Klaus in London?
- Which race car driver would Klaus love to share a bottle of wine with?
- Which wine gadget is Klaus’ single most important tool?
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About Klaus Reif
Klaus Reif, of Reif Vineyards in Niagara, comes from twelve generations of winemaking. He grew up on a family vineyard in Germany but in 1978, he visited his uncle Ewald who had started a winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Klaus loved the region, so after completing oenology studies at several respected institutions, he returned in 1987 to take over winemaking at his uncle’s winery. In 1989, winemaker Roberto Didomenico joined him, and Klaus is now president of the winery, though he stays active in the winemaking.
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Transcript & Takeaways
Welcome to episode 75!
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, we’re chatting with the visionary Klaus Reif, of Reif Vineyards in Niagara, who comes from twelve generations of winemaking. He grew up on a family vineyard in Germany. But in 1978, he visited his uncle Ewald who had started a winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Klaus loved the region, so after completing oenology studies at several respected institutions, he returned in 1987 to take over winemaking at his uncle’s winery. In 1989, winemaker Roberto Didomenico joined him, and Klaus is now president of the winery, though he stays active in the winemaking.
This conversation first aired on my regular Facebook live video a couple of years ago, so keep that in mind as the context for Klaus’s comments. Also, you’ll occasionally hear me respond to viewer questions. You can be part of that conversation every second Wednesday at 7 pm eastern, including this evening if you’re listening to this podcast on the day it’s published. And in fact, we’ll be pairing Niagara-on-the-Lake wines, like Reif’s, with delicious dishes, so join us.
I’m recording this intro on April 28 and we’re still in lockdown due to the Coronavirus. During this time, I encourage you to support your local wineries wherever you live, especially since their tasting rooms are now closed, cutting off a major source of their sales since the majority of wineries don’t produce enough wine to get listed in big liquor store chains.
I’ll put a link where you can find a list of Ontario wineries offering home delivery, including Reif, in the show notes, as well as links to the winery, the wines we tasted, a full transcript of our conversation and the video version of this chat at nataliemaclean.com/75.
If you want to discover great wines like those I taste with Klaus, sign up for my free, online video wine class the 5 Wine & Food Pairing Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Dinner (and how to fix them forever!).
Go to nataliemaclean.com/class and choose a time and date that work for you. I look forward to seeing you inside the class!
Okay, on with the show!
You can also watch the video interview with Klaus that includes bonus content and behind-the-scenes questions and answers that weren’t included in this podcast.
Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this chat with Klaus Reif.
Here are my takeaways:
- I love Klaus’s musical metaphor for wine, how it should be like an orchestra with all the instruments or components in harmony: oak, alcohol, acid, tannin and fruit play nicely together.
- He brings such a deep connection and history to his vision for Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario and Canada when it comes to wine. He’s the human equivalent of old vines in his accumulated experience, not that he’s old and grey like old vines.
- Klaus underscores the importance and economic impact of supporting local wine: every bottle of Ontario wine purchased adds $12 of economic impact to the economy versus just $1 for imported wines.
- It’s incredible to realize just how boutique and artisanal the Ontario wine industry still is with roughly 10,000 hectares of vines planted — that’s just 10% of Germany with 100,000 hectares, 1% of France with one million hectares and less than a half a percent of Spain with its 2.5 million hectares.
- I love Klaus’s optimism for the future, as he embraces the ideas and innovation that young people bring to the industry and informs that with his own grounded wisdom for the region.
If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it, especially one who’s interested in the fascinating wine tips that Klaus shared. You’ll find links to Reif’s winery websites, the wines we tasted, a full transcript of our conversation, the video version of this chat and where you can find us on Facebook live every second Wednesday at 7 pm at nataliemaclean.com/75, including this evening.
Finally, if you want to connect with me personally, join me in a free online video class at nataliemaclean.com/class.
You won’t want to miss next week when we’ll be chatting with Victoria James, the author of two books, her most recent, a gripping memoir called Wine Girl, which has been on the national bestseller list for four weeks. She’s also the youngest person in the world to pass the certified sommelier exam with the Court of Master Sommeliers at just 21 and has worked in Michelin-starred restaurants ever since. Today, she’s the partner and beverage director at New York’s Cote Korean Steakhouse restaurant. Her journey to this stellar position, however, was a difficult one as the sub-title of the book alludes: The obstacles, humiliations, and triumphs of a young sommelier. Fortunately, there’s a happy ending. She joins me from her home in New York City next week.
Thank-you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a delicious wine from Niagara-on-the-Lake, say from Reif!