Canadian Icewine

Winter's Nectar

Canadian Icewine is a sweet dessert wine renowned for its rich flavours and unsurpassed smoothness. While Icewine is also made in Germany, Austria and the United States, Canada is the only wine-producing region in the world with a climate so cold that its vintners can guarantee an annual production of this highly sought-after product.

Icewine is created from grapes naturally frozen on the vine, a process that generates a thick golden liquid with highly concentrated natural sugars and flavours. The resulting wines are of spectacular quality, with subtle bouquets of peaches, apricots, tropical fruits, honey, toffee, caramel, maple and nuts, depending on the grape varietal used in making the Icewine. The range of grape varietals is continually expanding as producers move to red wine grapes—such as Cabernet Franc—from the traditional Icewine base of Vidal and Riesling grapes. Icewine is also being infused into sparkling wines and spirit-based products, expanding the range of Icewine products even further.

Most Canadian Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Icewine comes from Ontario, followed by British Columbia. Quebec and Nova Scotia produce Icewine in smaller quantities.

A hard-earned harvest

Canadian Icewines command premium prices because they are expensive and risky to make. The process begins when the grower leaves a select part of the vineyard unharvested, and waits for Canada's bone-chilling cold to descend. As temperatures fall throughout the autumn and into the winter, the vintner watches anxiously as the grapes endure the natural hazards of wind, rot, hail, sleet, and the predations of hungry birds.

If all goes well, and vineyard temperatures reach -8°C or lower, the harvest can begin. Icewine harvests often begin at night so that grapes may be picked and delivered to processing facilities before daytime temperatures warm. Grapes must be processed while still frozen. Much of the Icewine grape crop, especially that belonging to small producers, is also picked by hand—a challenging endeavour in the cold conditions!

The yield of grapes to make Icewine is very small compared to that of a normal table-wine grape harvest. Three or more kilograms of grapes will only produce one 375-ml bottle of finished Icewine, while the same weight of fruit, normally harvested, will provide up to 10 times that amount of table wine. However, the results are well worth it. After settling for several days, this golden nectar is aged for several months, allowing the juice to be transformed into an intensely sweet and flavourful, perfectly balanced Canadian Icewine. This wine is an excellent complement to desserts such as cobblers and cheesecake, or to starters such as foie gras and pâté. And, of course, it is superb when appreciated all on its own.

Quality guaranteed

The sterling quality of Canadian Icewines is guaranteed because of the exacting standards followed by producers. Icewine production is also closely watched by VQA regulatory authorities. Each vintage is carefully monitored to ensure that the Icewine comes from approved grapes grown within a defined viticultural area, and that the grapes are picked and pressed at or below the required temperature of -8°C. The average natural sugar levels of the juice must meet strict criteria and both the alcohol and residual sugar in the finished wine must come exclusively from the natural sugar of the grapes.

It is this stringent approach and meticulous care that ensures Canadian Icewines are genuine and of the highest quality. As further proof of quality, Canadian Icewines continue to receive the highest awards at the world's most prestigious international wine fairs, including Vinexpo and VinItaly.

Taste the Canadian difference

Canada's Icewines appeal to the most discriminating palates and command premium prices around the world. For further information on the Canadian Icewine industry, please visit:

Government websites

Industry websites


Trade Statistics

The following tables represent Canada's total trade in a given export commodity based on Statistics Canada data. The product categories represent HS code groupings and have not been modified. In most cases, statistics have been presented at the 6 or 8 digit level. Statistics are presented in Canadian dollars and are complete through year end 2010.

Canada's Exports to All Countries (HS Code 2204) - ($CAD)
  2008 2009 2010 2011 Growth 2008-2011
Wine of fresh grapes 20,291,031 19,160,267 27,903,332 36,869,391 81.7%

Canada's Exports to All Countries (HS Code 2204) - (Quantity, LTR)
  2008 2009 2010 2011 Growth 2008-2011
Wine of fresh grapes 7,786,681 10,710,538 14,893,263 21,642,309 177.9%

Canada's Exports to All Countries by Province (HS Code 2204, Value $CAD)
Province 2008 2009 2010 2011
Alberta 1,182,295 1,400,468 1,862,905 1,696,745
British Columbia 1,399,673 3,068,549 5,514,432 5,758,068
Manitoba 5,142 0 0 0
New Brunswick 0 0 0 50,530
Newfoundland and Labrador 0 138,085 34,727 365,213
Nova Scotia 7,032 0 8,268 141,243
Nunavut 0 0 1,794 32,259
Ontario 15,791,058 11,719,854 16,653,385 23,159,015
Prince Edward Island 1,948 0 0 0
Québec 1,903,883 2,833,311 3,827,821 5,666,318

Canada's Top 10 Wine Markets (HS Code 2204, Value $CAD)
Country 2008 2009 2010 2011 Growth 2008-2011
TOTAL: 20,291,031 19,160,267 27,903,332 36,869,391 81.7%
United States 9,133,849 6,597,717 9,656,998 15,806,256 73.1%
China 2,794,465 5,007,256 9,148,405 10,580,609 278.6%
Hong-Kong 816,017 653,515 2,241,293 2,122,856 160.1%
South Korea 2,500,998 1,562,625 1,618,111 1,823,022 -27.1%
United Kingdom 611,439 629,126 1,159,397 1,269,486 107.6%
Singapore 850,728 1,167,676 999,681 1,238,915 45.6%
France 97,163 40,162 305,293 1,048,879 979.5%
Japan 1,160,637 651,075 562,858 954,146 -17.8%
Taiwan 665,485 379,371 635,801 797,403 19.8%
Malaysia 232,122 233,268 180,282 234,482 1.0%

Canada's Exports to All Countries (HS Code 22042110)
Product ($CAD) 2008 2009 2010 2011 Growth 2008-2011
Icewine, in containers holding 2 litres or less 11,602,806 8,614,421 12,041,057 13,354,174 15.1%
Product (Quantity,LTR) 2008 2009 2010 2011 Growth 2008-2011
Icewine, in containers holding 2 litres or less 193,464 127,858 171,818 181,093 -6.4%

Canada's Exports to All Countries by Province (HS Code 22042110, Value $CAD)
Province 2008 2009 2010 2011
Alberta 1,498 0 32,448 0
British Columbia 596,732 946,862 1,275,748 1,032,354
Nova Scotia 0 0 3,000 128,464
Nunavut 0 0 1,794 0
Ontario 10,937,068 7,146,353 10,189,930 11,383,212
Prince Edward Island 1,948 0 0 0
Québec 65,560 521,206 538,137 810,144

Canada's Top 10 Icewine Markets (HS Code 22042110, Value $CAD)
Country 2008 2009 2010 2011 Growth 2008-2011
TOTAL: 11,602,806 8,614,421 12,041,057 13,354,174 15.1%
China 1,657,209 2,519,011 4,673,747 5,063,422 205.5%
South Korea 2,226,465 1,343,696 1,551,298 1,777,531 -20.2%
Hong-Kong 704,403 352,807 1,027,549 1,226,551 74.1%
Singapore 841,730 1,070,718 955,543 1,171,955 39.2%
United States 2,725,655 1,266,567 1,579,739 981,217 -64.0%
France 58,575 15,980 134,113 700,837 1096.5%
Taiwan 543,124 322,486 297,639 577,368 6.3%
Japan 932,974 499,162 381,237 563,080 -39.6%
United Kingdom 540,197 402,706 663,024 436,758 -19.1%
Malaysia 207,659 182,348 158,697 191,302 -7.9%