Over the years, the family owned “Gary’s Fruit Market” grew into a bustling destination of interest for visitors to Niagara-on-the-Lake and locals, as did the interest in wine from Niagara. Soon after the first Niagara wineries opened, Gary took the initiative to begin planting wine grapes and started the first of the family’s Niagara vineyards.
By 1988 Gary decided to experiment by making a small batch of Vidal Icewine. The Icewine was later entered into a wine competition where it won a gold medal. This achievement solidified the idea to open a winery in Niagara’s newly emerging wine industry. During the next 5 years the farm and the market underwent several changes to convert the property into a winery. Ready for business, on June 5, 1993, the winery opened with a capacity to produce up to 16,000 cases. Through hard work, the wines began to achieve many awards, nationally, and as well on an international level.The grapes are harvested primarily from the family's vineyards of just over 100 acres, planted with vitis vinifera and French Hybrid grape varieties. Following the exacting standards of the VQA (Vintner's Quality Alliance) production has increased steadily since the winery's opening, and currently stands at 100,000 cases. The winery's production facilities have recently undergone a major expansion, although growth in production is carefully controlled to ensure that the family's high quality standards are maintained. Today our winemaker Aleksandar Kolundzic is known to craft fresh aromatic white wines and deep age worthy red wines to please most palates.
Gary started out with an interest in making Icewine. In 1988 he produced an Icewine made from Vidal grapes that would later achieve a gold medal award in amateur wine competition. Who knew that today Icewine would be considered such a rare and unique Canadian luxury. We have been revolutionary in producing some of the world’s most rare Icewines. In 1999 Pillitteri Estates was the first producer to create a successful Merlot Icewine. In 2004, we created the world’s first Shiraz Icewine, 2007, we created the world’s first Sangiovese Icewine and in 2008, we created the world’s first sparkling Cabernet Icewine. Today we produce over 13 different styles of Icewine, far more than any other winery in the world.
Within 10 short years, Pillitteri Estates Winery has proudly earned the status of being the world’s largest estate producer of Icewine. In a good vintage, close to half of our production is focused on Icewine.
Harvest of the ice wine grapes occur when temperatures have reached -8*C or colder. The grapes have evolved to a beautiful golden colour. We take great pride in producing our ice wine within strict VQA standards. Our commitment to be the best has lead Pillitteri to earn some of the most prestigious wine awards in the industry, including a Gold ‘first overall’ in France’s Effervescents Du Monde for our 2008 Sparkling Cabernet Icewine.
We encourage you to visit the winery for a wine tour to gain an appreciation of the extreme conditions that are a major part in the process of making ice wine.