Canadian icewine goes after U.S. market

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TORONTO--Ontario wineries aretoasting the launch of their so-called1997 "El Nino" Icewine, saying the vintage has a unique richness due to thelonger than usual time the grapes saton the vine. Grapes are not picked foricewine until the temperature drops tominus 8 degrees Celcius or lower.

But sales to Asia, its major market foricewine, are expected to slow down dueto market conditions there. So the wineries believe the time is right to taketheir specialty wine in a bigger way tothe U.S. market.

Sales have been minimal in the U.S.,partly because one of the major well-known wineries, Inniskillin, does virtually no traditional advertising. It focuses rather on tastings. Initial marketing efforts for the U.S. will include thelaunch of the Inniskillin Wine & Musicseries, a set of four wine seminars accompanied by Canadian classical musicians,which will take place at the Canadian consulate in New York in the fall of 1999.

Inniskillin Wines of Niagara-on-the-Lake was the particular winery that puticewine on the global map when in 1991it won the Grand Prix d'honneur award atVinex-po in France for its 1989 icewine.

Since then, the wine has grown in popularity across Canada. The majority ofsales have been to Asia. Annual salesare just over $2 million.

Copyright December 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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