Icewine Festival & Icewine Village

 

For most people, the month of January starts off quiet – with everyone wanting to de-socialize after the jolly holidays plus the weather-enabled laziness results in being content with staying home; but the peace soon turns into boredom and the urge to do something fun, returns. On the other hand, while quiet on the winemaking front, the wine country is sprinkled with wine-filled events and fun things to do. Icewine, as the name suggests, has a lot to do with winter, so Niagara embraces it and has two events devoted to it – the Icewine Festival that spans the last three weekends and Icewine Village that is constructed for duration of only one weekend.

 

Snowy road to Small Talk Vineyards
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This January 2014, the coldest January in at least the past 10+ years that I can remember, was the January I decided to finally take a look at what ‘Niagara-on-the-Lake Ice Wine Village’ is all about. Driving down from Toronto, the wind gusts were trying to sweep my fully occupied car off of the two sky-bridges and after having second, third… thoughts of turning back, we finally arrived at the destination. Fortunately, the town was shielded from the wind gusts, but the arctic cold was noticeably working its way down and chilling everything in its path.
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This winter is so cold that ice surrounding the Icewines is in-fact keeping them warm.
2014_Niagara-on-the-Lake_Icewine_Village_Icewine

 

Icewine Village
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The historic Niagara-on-the-Lake, arguably the centre of Niagara’s wine country that is surrounded by some of Niagara’s oldest wineries, transforms into ‘Icewine Village’ for one weekend in January. The craftily-decorated-boutique-shops lined Queen Street, its main street, closes to vehicle traffic and wineries’ representatives transform it into a tent village with a single purpose – to have fun with Icewine, while embracing the winter. The more than 25 wineries, all from Niagara-on-the-Lake, participate in this FREE-entry event, where commemorative glass can be purchased for 1 ticket, Icewine for 2 tickets and Icewine-inspired food sample, prepared onsite by Signature Kitchens, for 1 ticket – each valued at $3. The ‘village’ has a Christmassy feel to it with a few, promotional ice sculptures; evergreen trees strategically positioned and lights lining some of the tents. The centre of this ‘village’ has a massive, greater than 10 metre-long, ice sculpture of a wine-bar with embedded Icewines from all the participating wineries within its header.

 

2014_Niagara-on-the-Lake_Icewine_Village_IceBar
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If this winter was any of the other winters in the recent past, I would be able to do more than just take pictures; I’d be able to enjoy the goodness of Icewine that only Ontario is able to produce and talk to the representatives serving them. Instead, I was able to taste just one Icewine – one that was offered to me by Ravine Winery representative, a delicious 2012 Cabernet Franc Icewine.

 

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Icewine Festival
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The Icewine Festival usually takes place during the last three weekends of January on-site the participating wineries. In order to engage in it, it is better (more economical) to purchase a ‘Discovery pass’ which allows samplings of Icewine + specially crafted appetizer at any 8 of the participating wineries. In this event, partaking are not only the wineries surrounding Niagara-on-the-Lake, but also the wineries from the Twenty Valley join in.
Being in Niagara-on-the-Lake and not having a list of participating wineries, we stopped at Hinterbrook, Konzelnman, Strewn and Marynissen hoping to come across, document and perhaps try their Icewine + appetizer pairings. Hinterbrook featured the 2012 Cabernet Franc Icewine with turkey slider on a homemade brioche with spicy mango salsa. Konzelnman Estate Winery had their 2010 Vidal Icewine coupled with Lobster bisque with pretzel croutons & crème fraiche. Strewn Winery offered their library 1999 Vidal Icewine and paired it with Caramel Heavenlies – both of which were exquisite but unfortunately the heavenies weren’t for sale. Marynissen Estate Winery doesn’t specialize in Icewine production, but they served their 2009 Bottoms Up (red blend) with beef bourguignon topped with a little Asiago cheese and crostini – harmonious pairing.

 

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I would like to extend my thanks to staff at Strewn and Marynissen wineries for making my visit extra special.

 

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For other EVENTS in the wine country or in Toronto, please link here.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Icewine Festival & Icewine Village

    • Hi Fred
      I walked around for about 40 minutes taking pictures. It being so cold and me wearing only thin gloves that allowed me to operate the camera, I was shaking so bad that I opted out for any wine tasting. I plan on going next year (hopefully the winter will be reasonable as the past several have been) and tasting quite few Icewines. Also, next year, I will wear clothes suitable to stay outdoor for at least half of a day.
      Thanks for your comment.

      Cheers
      Dan

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