This past weekend, I pushed aside my January blahs and decided that it was time to delve into the icewine frenzy that takes ahold of Niagara at this time of year. We experienced a bit of a reprieve from the frigid cold temps and it was a great weekend to get out there and go winery hopping.
First off, we attended the Sparkle and Ice Gala which is held each January at the Court House in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This was our second year attending this event and we couldn’t wait to experience the ambiance, delicious culinary creations from local restaurants and wineries and of course…the wine! In the interest of full disclosure, we had a media pass for this event however all the opinions expressed are my own.
Before heading into the Court House, I snapped a pic of one of the beautiful ice sculptures created by The Iceman Toronto These folks have some serious skills!
The Latin beats could be heard from the street and were calling us in. The Court House itself is a stunning building and when you enter, you are transformed back to the 1850’s when this building was constructed.
When you arrive, you are given a tasting glass and a ticket which you redeem for a bottle of wine at the end of the night. The wine and tasting stations are set up in two separate rooms with the larger hall having the entertainment which was the most AMAZING latin band!
We wasted no time in scoping out the offerings for the evening and we were not disappointed! But here’s the problem, I sometimes get so excited by the food and wine….I fail to take pictures before taking my first bite! Anyways, here are some of the delicious bites we had.
It got quite busy as the evening moved on and everybody looked like they were having a great time!
At the end of the evening, folks head outside to enjoy a special fireworks show and icewine served in ice glasses!
Truly a highlight and fantastic kick-off to the Icewine Festival in Niagara-on-Lake!
On Sunday, my daughter and I decided we were going to take advantage of the Niagara Icewine Discovery Pass and visit a few wineries in the afternoon. The Discovery Pass costs about $53 and entitles you to 8 experience vouchers (aka icewine and food samples) which are redeemable at participating wineries. So in other words, you can visit 8 different wineries with one pass. We decided that we were only going to visit 4 wineries, so we bought just one pass which we both could use. Pretty smart huh?
I’m going to confess that since moving to Niagara Falls, I have never visited Inniskillin before. Pretty crazy since this winery is known worldwide for their icewine and you would think I would have stopped by, right? Well, I was certainly missing out all this time because it was a beautiful winery with such great folks working there and amazing icewine and food!
We enjoyed sparkling Vidal Icewine paired with southern fried chicken on a vanilla waffle topped with cocoa Icewine hot sauce. Absolutely amazing but what do I do?? I eat it before taking a picture…ugh!! Alright, I promise this was the first and last time I do this…for that day anyways!
We decided to explore the winery and couldn’t resist sitting by the outdoor fire which felt very Canadian. Inniskillin also hosts a Winter Market Grill in January where you can order from a set menu. We couldn’t resist the pulled pork poutine which was absolutely amazing!
We also met Executive Chef Tim Mackiddie who was more than happy to strike a pose with some of his smoked Ontario brisket. He was pretty excited about using his new Traeger Grill which looked like quite the piece of equipment!
We will definitely be back to experience more of what Inniskillin has to offer on the weekends!
Now we were off to Peller Estates which is just down the Niagara Parkway. We had experienced what Peller had to offer last year and knew we had to keep them on the list because of the icewine marshmallow. Ooey-gooey goodness awaited us and we were on a mission!. We pulled up, parked the jeep, went through the front doors and straight out the back towards the fire pits. This wasn’t our first rodeo!
Other folks were enjoying themselves as well!
We sampled the Cabernet Franc icewine with our marshmallow and you can also order from their Icewine Market Menu.
So now we are a sticky, happy mess and can move on to the next winery which was Pondview Estate Winery . This was my first time visiting this boutique winery.
When we arrived, we were quite taken with the beautiful tasting room and lovely displays.
We were directed to the back of the winery where Discovery Pass holders got to sip and taste amongst the wine barrels.
Pondview’s pairing combination was quite the sweet, savoury and salty experience! Their description says it all:
Best of Show – Double Your Pleasure
Awaken your senses with our “Best of the Best, Savoury & Sweet” pairing combination. Blue Cheese stuffed meatball with Raspberry Balsamic Glaze, paired with our world class Vidal Icewine (Best Sweet Wine in North America – Decanter Asia Wine Awards). Salted Mexican Chocolate Ganache Tart paired with our “Best Sweet Wine in Show” Award winning Riesling Icewine (Decanter Asia Wine Awards).We had a ‘pairing combination. Blue Cheese stuffed meatball with Raspberry Balsamic Glaze, paired with our world class Vidal Icewine.
It’s hard to make a picture of a meatball look amazing, but I’m still including it because it deserves to be recognized!
This beautiful tart had a bit of heat hiding in the chocolate which was cooled down when sipping the Riesling Icewine.
The gentleman serving us did his best to tempt us with an icewine shooter, but I was already on an all-time sugar high so this will have to wait until our next visit.
Our final stop was Marynissen Estates which we had a bit of trouble finding. Maybe it was the sugar high or my extreme lack of direction but we did a few u-turns on some country roads but finally found this very quaint winery. For those of you that know me, being directionally challenged is nothing new in my world!
We had a great chat with a young man and lady who were serving the wine and food. We were served a DELICIOUS ‘Mole Rojo Beef slow braised, tender beef in a rich, earthy, aromatic red mole made from tomatoes, beef stock, cumin, ancho chiles and chocolate.’
I opted for a glass of red wine as I couldn’t take anymore icewine at that point. Can somebody really drink 4, 5, 6 or more samples of icewine in one day? Oh yes, my daughter can!!
Marynissen Estates is on the list to visit again so I can really explore the other wines they offer as I am always interested in the smaller, boutique wineries.
You can still take advantage of the Icewine Discovery Pass from January 26 – 28. Beat those January blues and visit a favourite winery or discover a new one