Our Story

A Canadian expat fell in love with an Italian temptress

Foreign Affair Corks

In the early 1990s, our founders, Len and Marisa Crispino were living as expats in Italy. While there they discovered the wonders of the Amarone wines of Valpolicella in the Veneto region of the country. This style of wine is made using the appassimento process whereby the grapes are dried prior to pressing. The more they learned about this process and grew to love these wines, the more excited they became at the prospect of bringing this incredible craftsmanship back with them to Ontario. And so, they did.

Foreign Affair Vineyard

In 2000, taking a leap of faith, Len and Marisa bought prime farmland in the Vineland area of the Niagara Peninsula starting their journey to becoming one of the pioneers of appassimento in Canada. They then sourced quality vinifera varietals from Europe (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Riesling) an unusual choice for this style of winemaking, and after three years of carefully nurturing the vines, the first crop was harvested in 2004.

While the first vintages had many challenges with this approach, the big, bold red wines they produced as a result spoke for themselves, and so Len and Marisa persisted. Today we have a unique and diverse selection of award-winning wines, all touched by this process in some way, and many stories to share about the journey.

Even the labels on our wines have their own story. A Canadian artist was commissioned to paint a traditional, Italian landscape and then iconic Canadian animals were superimposed onto the picture. It shows an extension of the Italian experience, the love of this Canadian homeland and the belief in an innovative approach to winemaking here in Canada.

Our Process

The process of making an appassimento wine begins with careful attention to our vineyards year-round. When the grapes have fully ripened, the best bunches are hand harvested and placed gently in single layers on racks to air dry in our drying barns. They are left to dry naturally until their weight is reduced to approximately half, which can take between 2 and 3 months. The grapes are then hand sorted and crushed. This process concentrates the ripe flavours and adds the full-bodied character we are so well known for.