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Niagara’s Icewine experts invite you to indulge in winter’s sweet nectar

Riverview Cellars Estate Winery showcases the magic of Icewine season

It’s not very often you can celebrate the bounty of the harvest in the middle of winter, but that’s exactly what’s happening in Ontario’s wine country.

If you thought vineyards and wineries were only for the spring, summer and fall, you may have been sleeping on one of the most interesting (and delicious) times to visit: winter. We’re in the thick of Icewine season in Niagara, which is a second season of sorts for local vineyards.

One of the most revered wineries in Niagara just harvested their grapes for the next season and they’re busy preparing their next batch of Icewine. Mike Pillitteri is the General Manager of Riverview Cellars Estate Winery, and they’re right in the thick of Icewine making and serving.

“Not every wine region in the world makes Icewine, and this is the biggest and the best Icewine region in the world, so we really like to celebrate that,” Pillitteri said. “We love to share these events and Icewines with the world. We have people from all over the world come.”


Because of its unique climate, Niagara is renowned for having a high concentration of Icewine producers. It has to be at least -8 Celsius for grapes to be harvested, but it can’t get below -20 Celsius to avoid damaging the grapes.

Because the water freezes inside the grape, producing a bottle of Icewine requires 10 times the amount of grapes needed for a typical table wine. But icewine’s unique flavour and richness make it a sought-after variety this time of year.

Riverview produces up to 10 varieties of Icewine, from the Vidal and Cabernet Franc Icewine, to their award-winning Riesling Icewine, to Gewurztraminer Icewine. Because they offer so many options, there’s something for everyone.

“Specializing in Icewine is what we try to focus on because we do sell a lot of Icewine here,” Pillitteri said. “We have a lot of international tourists that love our Icewine and we export it as well. We really try to make it unique with different varieties.”

During select weekends in January, Riverview offers a savoury food and wine pairing for those visiting their winery during Icewine season as part of the Discovery Pass program. They’re serving a beef slider to go along with some of their signature Riverview Icewine.


This time of year shines a spotlight on Icewines with so many events during the Niagara Icewine Festival. Riverview will pour at the Sparkle and Ice Celebration January 26, as well as the Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival January 27 and 28.

Icewine fanatics travel from far and wide to get their fill at these events, and Pillitteri says some even travel internationally just to savour some of the best Icewines in the world made here in Niagara.

For something extra special, Riverview Cellars Estate Winery also offers reserve Icewines. These are Icewines which have been aging in the Riverview cellar and take on special characteristics from the barrels they’re aged in.

“We’ve done red Icewine in barrels, which gives it a chocolate or toffee flavour,” Pillitteri said. “If you age the Vidal or Riesling in the oak barrels, it will give it a burnt sugar, vanilla or cinnamon taste. You just have all this spectrum of flavours from the barrel when you age it.”

Whether you try one of these Icewines at one of the local events or festivals, Riverview Cellars Estate Winery sells their products at their retail store, but you can also buy online and ship for free within Ontario (or for free in Canada when you spend $150 or more).

Visit Riverview Cellars Estate Winery at 15376 Niagara Parkway, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Or browse their online shop anytime at

You can also book a private Icewine tasting to sample their award-winning Icewine on site at Riverview. Just visit their website to book your tasting.