Harvest in Niagara is a very special time of year. Perhaps it’s the wannabe winemaker in me but I’m always fascinated by the development of grapes from little buds to plump and juicy clusters weighing down a vine.
Not only is this region known for grapes but there is a bounty of other fruits and vegetables that grow here. We recently visited the Harvest Barn Country Market in Virgil. The minute you walk through the door, your senses are overwhelmed by the sight and smell of beautiful produce harvested that very day.
I couldn’t resist snapping a pic of this great display.
This time of year I start nesting and naturally that also includes making comfort food. Here is a family favourite at harvest time; peach and blueberry cobbler in a cast iron pan. I’m happy to share the recipe so feel free to send me an email at email@example.com
Of course, wine festival takes place in September and there were a multitude of events happening. This year, we were extremely fortunate to get a glimpse behind the scenes at Vineland Estates Winery. We arrived at the winery and used our Discovery Pass to get a sample of the Cabernet Franc which was paired with pulled pork on a wonton with was delicious!
After our tasting, I asked for Brian Schmidt who I knew as @benchwineguy on Instagram. I was escorted out to the back of the winery and this is where all the action was happening! I was introduced to Brian and the lovely Jessica aka @jessinthecellar. Brian was very busy unloading containers of Riesling from the truck and emptying them into the press.
I was in good hands with Jessica as she explained the whole process from start to finish. There was such a sweet, succulent smell in the air as container after container of Riesling was dropped into the press. I even tried the freshly pressed juice which tasted much better than it looked!
The team normally works 12+ hours a day during harvest season. This was truly a labour of love I was witnessing and was honoured to be watching the creation of the 2016 Riesling vintage. Brian would enthusiastically jump off the forklift to provide snippits of information of the how’s and why’s certain steps are taken during the process. Little did I know that Brian is the Vice-President and Winemaker at Vineland Estates!
Luckily and to our delight, we were invited to join the team for lunch. Brian is a brilliant host and made our visit more special than words can express. The food, wine, company and atmosphere was like a scene out of Under the Tuscan Sun. We were joined by the entire staff as well as the man who grew and looked after the grapes. We drank out of bottles that weren’t even labeled yet; an array of red and white wine as well as Riesling and the food was freshly made from the restaurant on site. This is definitely an afternoon I won’t forget anytime soon.