Premier Kathleen Wynne presented the award to the winery, which exports to more than 30 countries, including China, where it operates 25 wine retail stores.
“Since starting our business in 1993, we have grown to become one of the best known international ice wine brands, now available around the globe,” said Charles Pillitteri, CEO of Pillitteri Estates Winery. “It is an honour to be recognized with the Ontario Food Exporter Award, and I want to thank the Ontario government for its support of the province’s agri-food industry.”
Pillitteri Estates Winery has grown into the largest estate icewine producer in the world and is number one in estate winery exports, exporting to more than 30 countries worldwide, including China, Japan, Caribbean, Russia, Mexico, Germany and Korea. Icewine accounts for half of Pillitteri production and the other half is aromatic white wines, such as Rieslings, and full-bodied reds. In Canada, Pillitteri sells its products to the LCBO, Ontario restaurants and at its winery, which receives more than 100,000 visitors a year. Pillitteri’s products are also available in Duty Free stores, Canadian embassies around the globe, restaurants, and retail stores in countries everywhere.
Working with a Chinese partner, Pillitteri created Canbest Inc. to promote and distribute Canadian products in China, including their own icewine, as well as other Ontario-made products and foods. Starting in 2011 with two Canbest stores, Pillitteri has recently opened the Canadian Lifestyle Centre to promote Canadian business, to act as Pillitteri’s China Division headquarters and to operate its 25 wine retail stores throughout China.
“In rapidly growing icewine markets, particularly China, we have created a permanent presence with domestic partners, which includes the opening of winery retail stores and regular attendance at trade shows,” said Pillitteri. “It was my father’s vision that we create a premium product, following his passion for wine and the Canadian agricultural sector.”
The export market is so important to Pillitteri that a division of the company has been set up to deal directly with large export markets. The company embraces new technology, as it continues to improve products, protect brand integrity, and has been instrumental in the innovation of new icewine varietals.