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Wine News

Old tobacco technology brings new life to wine

Giant kilns that were once used to dry out tobacco leaves are to be used in experimental winemaking at a Niagara-on-the-Lake winery. Reif Estate Winery will try using two humidity and temperature-controlled sheds to make unique wines and expand their product lineup. The idea is to use these traditional tools from the dying tobacco industry in Essex County and give them new life in Niagara's wine business.

The first kiln will be used to dry out grapes to produce a style of richer wine with more sugar concentration, called passito or Amarone-style wine.

Other producers in Niagara are already successfully making wines of this style by naturally drying out grapes in racks, which can take up to six weeks. Reif Estate hopes to reduce the drying time to two weeks, allowing three batches of passito each vintage.

The second kiln will blast humidity to encourage the growth of the fungus botrytis on the grapes in order to produce dessert wines.