In 1973, Walter Hainle made the first (small scale) Icewine in Canada then in 1978, Hainle Vineyards produced the first commercially available Canadian Icewine.
Today, Canada is the largest producer of this rare, rich and sweet ambrosia, with the lion’s share coming from Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula. The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia also produces outstanding Icewine, as do Nova Scotia and Quebec.
The volume of Icewine produced in Ontario has risen phenomenally, commensurate with demand. Sales in vintages alone rose from 25,000 bottles in 1992-93 to an estimated 120,000 bottles in 1996-97. Sales continue to grow at a rate of over 50% per annum. The burgeoning demand is also evident in the export market – particularly in Asia where Ontario Icewines have fetched over three times the domestic price in Japan.* A 375ml bottle may sell for as much as $300.00 In Canada. The average price for a 375ml bottle of Icewine is around $45.00.
For over 20 years, Europeans banned Canadian Icewine from their markets, stating high sugar content as their reason, the ban was lifted in May, 2001. Hugh Johnson, author of World Atlas of Wines Niagara, has moved icewine from the fringe benefit for vintners to an international luxury item as dependable as it is luxurious.