You had me at Merlot – Niagara Icewine Festival
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This article is part 2 our of Blind Date post. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s worth checking out. If you don’t have time, here’s a quick recap:
Last week friends of ours made plans to take us on a blind double date. The idea was that our friends would plan a Saturday adventure without letting us know what we’d get up to until the day of. Armed only with the knowledge that we would be spending time outside, on Saturday morning we dressed for the cold and waited in anticipation to start our blind date.
When the ‘tour bus’ arrived we were thrilled to find out that we would be taking a wine tour throughout the Twenty Valley Region of Southern Ontario, visiting the Niagara Icewine Festival and finishing the date with a tour of the Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Southern Ontario is home to over 75 wineries. It might sound strange, but Southern Ontario has roughly the same latitude as Southern France and has developed a reputation for producing excellent wine. The region is particularly known for producing icewine. Icewine is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen on the vine. It is a very labour-intensive and risky production, and Canada are Germany are the world’s largest producers.
Our date began with a picturesque drive through wine country stopping at Fielding Estate Winery, Megalomaniac Winery and Vineland Estate Winery. At each winery we sampled a few of their wines and purchased our favourite bottles. One of the benefits of visiting the winery is that not only do you get to sample a variety of their wine, but they usually offer wine for sale that is not available elsewhere. Most wineries offer samples of their wine for roughly $5.00 and allow you to sample 3-5 different wines.
We meandered through the region and arrived at the day’s main attraction – The Niagara Icewine Festival. Each January for 3 weeks the Niagara Icewine Festival features over 30 wineries serving icewine, sparkling wine, red and white wines, food from local chefs and live entertainment. This predominantly outdoor festival is a classically Canadian event. Between the camp fires, thermal underwear and big furry hats, the quaint village that hosts the event buzzes with activity.
We made our way around the pavilions sampling wine and icewine truffles while choosing our favourites. After we’d had our fill of icewine we stopped in a local pub for a late lunch and enjoyed live music while we ate. As the afternoon faded to evening we took our final leg of the journey – a scenic drive through historic Niagara-on-the-Lake and a trip through Niagara Falls to enjoy their Festival of Lights.
Not only was our date a nice surprise, it was a great day with good company and an experience that despite living close by, we had neglected to enjoy.
If you live near or are planning a trip to the Niagara Peninsula in January, you should definitely consider checking out the Niagara Icewine Festival.
When most people travel they make sure that they hit all of the tourist attractions, but rarely do we ever take advantage of the attractions in our own backyard. Don’t neglect your hometown! Check out your local travel and tourism board; maybe you can find other great festivals in your neck of the woods that you can enjoy with your partner or with friends.
- The cost of this date can vary greatly. We explored the Icewine Festival for only $40.00, but spent more money purchasing bottles of wine at the wineries.
- Dress warm! Don’t be fooled by all of the merriment – Canada in January is cold. On Saturday the forecast called for lows of -10 and yes, that’s in Celsius.
- The 3 week festival moves locations as it progresses. If you are interested in going, check out the Niagara Icewine Festival website to get all of the information you’ll need.
Have you ever attended the Niagara Icewine Festival? What did you think? Have you ever tried icewine? Would you like to? Tell us about it in the comments.
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