A Good Home, Adopted HOme, Award-winning wines, Canadian Icewine, Canadian Wine, Family business, Reif Estate Winery, Reif Wines, Riesling Wine, Vidal Icewine, Vineyards, Winery of the year, Wines

At Home with Klaus Reif, Award-Winning Winemaker

Blog Photo - Klaus Story Winery Front picture

“Born into a winemaking family of twelve generations,” says the Reif Estate Winery website, “Klaus W. Reif may have had his future preordained.”

No kidding!

Thirteen generations of one family doing the same thing for a living?

Blog Photo - Reif Wines in Glass

It’s like something in a novel. 

Like thirteen generations of butchers, bakers or candle-stick makers.

What is it like? I wondered.


Klaus Reif is president of Canadian winery Reif Estate.

But his childhood home and vineyard are in Neustadt, Germany.

“Growing up in a winemaking family was a fun time, maybe the best time of my life. Since my early childhood I loved working with my father in the vineyard and the winery. Home was a great place. My parents had the incredible ability to integrate us kids into the winery business as a natural extension of our family life.”

Blog Photo - Klaus Story youngest winemaker in family

In 1978, Klaus visited his uncle Eward in Niagara on the Lake, an idyllic part of Canada. Eward had started a vineyard in ‘NOTL’ just the year before, making him one of Canada’s wine pioneers.

Blog Photo - Klaus story Reif Barrel Herb LR

Klaus fell in love with Niagara. He returned to Germany, determined to learn more about both winemaking and business. He studied at prestigious winemaking institutions.

In 1987, he returned.

“I was young and was looking for an adventure, so coming to Canada was perfect for me.” 

Klaus’ uncle handed him the reins.  Believing that great wines start in the vineyard, Klaus focused on creating small batches of exceptional wine.

Blog Photo - Reif Icewine

One of his first was “a simple wine”, a Vidal icewine.

“I obviously had a different style of winemaking from my uncle. Upon tasting my first wine he basically told me this wine would ruin the winery! Nevertheless, I entered the wine into a competition and won an award which gave me the confidence for my future in winemaking.”

Named one of the Top Ten Wines of 1987, the Vidal has a special place in Klaus’ heart. It helped Reif to grow, becoming its most popular wine, while helping Reif win 100 gold awards for icewines.

Blog Photo - Klaus with glass of wine

In 1989, winemaker Roberto Didomenico joined Reif. (Photo Below, Roberto at right) 

Reif focused on improving its wines and production facility.

Reif has won one international award after another. Reif was also honoured as Canada’s top winery.

“Thirty years ago Canadian wine had a well-deserved bad reputation. It was our goal to change this with new varieties and the application of world class winemaking technology. I believe — no, I know we succeeded — Canadian wines can measure up to the best wines in the world!”

Reif Estate Wines

Klaus’ special place in the vineyard is the “22 rows of the Chardonnay block”. During tough times, it was the backbone of the farm, creating the income Reif needed to make it into the next year.

“This was obviously many years back, but it will always remain my favorite spot!”

Reif produces about 35,000 cases of wine a year — including one of Klaus’ favorites, the Riesling.

Blog Photo - Klaus Story Riesling

Blog Photo - Klaus' Story Reif Estate Winery

Wines are sold online and at the winery at 5608 Niagara Parkway, Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Blog Photo - Klaus story wine tastings among barrels

Tastings, tours, weddings and corporate events are held there.

Blog Photo - Klaus story Sign

Klaus found great success in Canada.

“I love Canada, I love Canadians, I love the Niagara Region. I am grateful for the opportunities I was given. If only the rest of the Reifs could be here with me, life would be perfect!”

Klaus and Destiny

So: what is it like for Klaus  — far from his family home?

“Only in the later years I realized that my lust for adventure took me away from my family. It was definitely the right decision from the perspective of business success and many other reasons.  But, 27 years later, I still miss them!”


Photos from Klaus and Reif Estate.

Website:  www.reifwinery.com

A Good Home, Canada, Canadian Wine, Canadians, Flowers, Garden, Gardening, Gratitude, Home, Homes, Life in canada, Lifestyle, Poem, Spring, Spring Bulbs, Storms, The weather, Tulips, Wine, Words

A Fine Canadian Whine

That funny sound across the land

Is not the geese in flying band

That sound across this country mine

Is just a fine Canadian whine


Photo by Hamlin Grange
Photos by Hamlin Grange ©

We whine and whine about our weather

Spring and Summer, Fall and Winter,

We whine at snow, heat, fog and rain

We whine, we carp and we complain


“Winter is hell”, we cried and said

(Forgetting hell is hot and red)

“Come Spring, come soon, or we shall rot”

So Spring herself is what we got


Blog Photo - Arbor and pink clematis

Blog Photo - Pink Clematis

We’d dreamed of Spring’s so-pretty flowers

Forgetting Spring’s cold wind and showers

Spring came with those accompaniments

Arousing such crude sentiments


“Can you believe this awful cold?”

“Come on now Spring, break Winter’s hold!”

“Can you believe this awful wet?”

“Good God, this Spring is the worse yet!”


Blog Photo - Bloodroot

And on and on Canadians go

As if our lives were full of woe

Day in, day out we moan and groan

As if bad weather were ours alone


But grateful gardeners aren’t such grumps

We take the good and take the bumps

We welcome all the days of Spring

And give our thanks for what they bring


Blog Photo -  Blooming rhubarb

And so we wait the Winter out

And though at times we feel some doubt

We know that flowers need the rain

Without it, we would toil in vain


Without it, what would be the point

Without it, we’d be rolling joints

Oh, wait – out by our West-Coast way

Some people do that night and day


Blog Photo - Crocus in Spring

Okay, alright that was a slur

‘Gainst folks whose Springs are oft a blur

Of rain.  Offense, they do deserve it not

(Their “B.C. Bud”  is known as hot)


My West Coast friends, I will refrain

From mention of your weed and rain

I will not write about your pot

At least I will not write a lot


Blog Photo - Blue clematis2

Back to my garden I will go

Back to a subject that I know

And walk between the growing plants

And tend to what the garden wants


At evening, sounds rise o’er the land

(It’s not the geese in flying band)

That pleasant sigh is me and mine

Sipping a fine Canadian wine.


All Photos by Hamlin Grange ©

I’m dedicating this poem to my friends on Canada’s west coast, hoping their sense of humour is working well today.

And  especially to Louise, in Niagara-On-The-Lake, who has a lovely garden, and her husband Neil, who loved his work at a winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Despite the uncertain weather of some growing seasons,  the story of Canadian wineries (in both the east and the west) is remarkable, with many award-winning wines. Way to go, Canadian wines!