Inniskillin Co-Founder Karl Kaiser has passed away at the age of 76. Kaiser, who was born in Austria in 1941 and immigrated to Canada in 1969, was recognised as one of the architects of the modern Canadian wine industry. He died peacefully on 22 November after complications from a stroke.

“A founding father”: Karl Kaiser passed away earlier this month at the age of 76

Arterra Wines Canada President & CEO Jay Wright conveyed his condolences to Kaiser’s wife Silvia and family.

“Karl was one of the founding fathers of the Canadian wine industry, when he, together with his partner Donald Ziraldo, received the first winery licence since prohibition and founded Inniskillin in 1975, making it the first estate winery in Canada,” Wright said.

“Karl generously shared his Austrian heritage when he came to Canada and embraced our severe winters to produce Canada’s first Vidal Icewine in 1984.”

Kaiser’s commitment to the tradition of winemaking led him to produce award-winning wines throughout his career. The Grand Prix d’Honneur award in 1991 from VinExpo, Bordeaux for his 1989 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine was regarded as a pivotal moment not only in his career and Inniskillin’s history, but an iconic moment in Canada’s emerging wine industry.

Inniskillin Icewine is regarded as one of travel retail’s biggest success stories.

The winemaker’s many awards and accolades included the Order of Ontario in 1993, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee Award and the Ontario Wine Society Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

“Karl’s extraordinary passion put Canadian wines on the world map and today, Inniskillin Icewine is sold in over 80 countries worldwide,” Wright added.

“We, as an industry, are all deeply saddened by this news. Today, please open your favourite bottle of Inniskillin and raise a glass to toast Karl and his lasting legacy.”