Donald Ziraldo has resigned as president of Inniskillin Wines in Ontario.
Ziraldo – dubbed Canada’s Robert Mondavi – founded the winery, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, in 1975 with a partner, Karl Kaiser, also now retired.
Inniskillin pioneered Canadian ice wine – a genre that become a mainstay of the Ontario wine industry and rivals Germany’s eiswein in quality and price. It also established Canada’s modern estate-winery movement and helped put Canada on the international wine map.
Inniskillin’s defining moment was winning the Grand Prix d’Honneur for its 1989 Vidal ice wine at Vinexpo in Bordeaux in 1991.
In announcing his departure, Ziraldo said, ‘Karl’s recent retirement and the many changes that have occurred over the past years, prompted me to review my career and my life.’
‘For me it is time to pass the torch, and I am leaving Inniskillin in the very capable hands of the Inniskillin staff, Vincor Canada and internationally with Constellation. This gives me added comfort in my decision.’
Constellation Brands, the world’s biggest wine company, bought Vincor International, then Inniskillin’s parent company, for US$1.09bn earlier this year.
‘The other major change, and the most significant, is my recent marriage to my life partner, Anna Netter-Ziraldo, on July 22, 2006 in the Black Forest in Germany,’ said the flamboyant Ziraldo, a lifelong bachelor.
Zirlado plans to remain involved with Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, a leading research institution, which he helped found.
He was recently named chairman of a government advisory panel to review the work of the Vineland Research Station, an agricultural research center that is a century old this year.
Written by Howard G Goldberg