Just over 40 years ago, a Hungarian immigrant named Andrew Peller opened a modest winery in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley . It was his belief that as the Canadian community matured culturally that eventually wine would and could become a major part of its lifestyle the same way it did in Europe . And that means not just the wine itself but the whole concept of really appreciating food and wine together in a way very much different than only a very special occasion type of product.
That was Andrew’s view in the early days that motivated him to start a winery. As Peller Estates has been successful with introducing wines and being part of the increasing wine movement in Canada, the Peller family keeps setting goals to higher levels and the aspire to produce wines that rank amongst the best in the world. It is from signature products like Icewine, but also Chardonnays and Rieslings that are as good as those produced anywhere around the world, as well as premium and ultra-premium red wines. Many believed that these could not be grown, but it has been repeatedly proven that premium reds actually do extremely well and the quality is quite remarkable.
The Pellers are Icewine pioneers, being among the first families to explore the possibilities of this unique Canadian style of wine. But they went further, planting their Niagara Peninsula vineyards closer to Lake Ontario in an effort to make their Icewine fresher and more food-friendly. Producing Icewine is an extraordinarily laborious process, involving the thawing and freezing of grapes on numerous occasions, picking them at the perfect moment and, in the winery, a long, slow pressing during which the winery workers have been known to stage a few games of hockey to pass the time. The wines that result – uniquely unctuous but with a piercing streak of lip-smacking freshness – are delicious on their own, but acquire new dimensions alongside food.