In contrast to most other wine-producing regions, Canada, particularly the Niagara Peninsula, consistently undergoes freezing in winter and has become the world’s largest ice wine producer. Icewine production in Canada is regulated by the Vintners Quality Alliance in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario. If the sugar level in the grapes measures less than 35° Brix, then they may not be used for icewine, a minimum considerably higher than that of German Eiswein. These grapes are often downgraded to a lower designation, such as Special Select Late Harvest or Select Late Harvest. Canadian rules were further tightened in British Columbia in 2000 after a producer dealt with the mild winter of 1999 by moving grapes up to the mountains to seek freezing temperatures.
Though Pelee Island Winery and Hillebrand were Canada’s first commercial icewine producers, starting production in 1983, Inniskillin Wines is considered the most widely known Canadian icewine producer as the first Canadian winery to win a major international award, the Grand Prix d’Honneur at 1991 Vinexpo in France, with their 1989 Vidal Icewine (which was technically an illegal import into the EU), placing Canadian icewines on the world stage. Pillitteri Estates Winery has emerged in the 2000s as the world’s largest estate icewine producer.
In November 2006 the Canadian producer Royal DeMaria released five cases of Chardonnay icewine with a half-bottle price set at C$ 30,000, making it the world’s most expensively priced wine.