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Client Spotlight: Pillitteri Estate Winery goes for gold to reach global markets

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Icewine has been around for over two centuries, with roots in Germany and Austria, but in recent decades production of the sweet elixir has been dominated by Ontario wineries. The conditions for harvesting and pressing frozen grapes are so specific that only a handful of wine regions around the world are suitable enough for the process.

Vintners keep an ultra-close watch on local weather conditions in order to send their harvesting crews out on the first night when the temperature drops to -8C. The limited window of opportunity for production, along with the fact that it typically takes 4-5 times more grapes for the same volume of wine, explains why icewine is such a premium product around the world.

At Pillitteri Estate Winery of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, it is critical that their icewine bottles reflect the quality of the product inside. The second generation family business – with the third now coming up through the ranks – its icewine vintages represent the bulk of a large export business, shipping to 39 countries around the world.

Pillitteri Estates Winery's 2016 Cabernet Franc Reserve Ice Wine beautifully displayed on a table top with strawberries, chocolate, rhubarb, mint and ice wine drizzles.

To establish a luxury brand within such a diverse, multi-lingual, multi-cultural audience, Pillitteri relies on the universal appeal of gold. Paper labels – even intricate labels with metallic foil – can only do so much to stand out. What differentiates a nice-looking icewine package from a true masterpiece is the ability to print directly on the glass bottle.

For nearly 20 years, Stanpac has been Pillitteri Estate Winery’s go-to supplier for printing on its icewine bottles. The packaging specialist operates an Applied Ceramic Labelling (ACL) division that is able to print all kinds of designs directly onto glass bottles. Stanpac’s bottle decorating specialists combine design flair with technical know-how for achieving a stand-out end product.

“We love working with Stanpac because nothing is overlooked,” says Jeff Letvenuk, marketing manager at Pillitteri. “There’s a keen eye for detail throughout the process, which is especially helpful because I know that there’s always another set of eyes.” Quality control at Stanpac, according to Levenuk, is exceptional.

Bottle of 2013 Pillitteri Estates Winery cabernet sauvignon ice wine on top of bushel of frozen grapes. Gold ink acl label is done by stanpac ink.

The actual gold in the ink, embossed onto the bottle, creates a superior level of prestige, similar to high-end Frenchwines, sparkling wines or champagnes. In international markets, Pillitteri’s icewine appeals to distributors, wholesalers, and other partners throughout the import chain, in part because of its sophisticated bottles. They instantly convey a premium brand message and help establish a premium price point.

Pillitteri notably won the prestigious Ontario Food Exporter of the Year Award in 2013, a testament to the company’s comprehensive export strategy and leadership in the Ontario icewine industry. “Canadian icewine is the best in the world,” says Letvenuk. “And we like to think we’re the best at Canadian icewine.” Many icewine lovers, in over three dozen countries, would certainly agree.

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