Niagara Icewine Getaway – Experience it this January

A Niagara Icewine Getaway

By Alison Oppenlaender

Experience Niagara’s wine country like no other this January! Tantalize your taste buds and be a part of the Niagara Icewine Festival the last three weekends in January. In its 21st year, this sweet celebration intertwines all things icewine to satisfy all five of your senses. From elegant galas, to cool outdoor ice bars, from roasting icewine-infused marshmallows, to walking through an icewine vineyard, the Niagara Icewine Festival offers a range of activities that will leave you and your five senses salivating for more. All you need to do is pack your overnight bag, book a room at one of the many beautiful hotels the Niagara region has to offer and plan your icewine getaway. Here are five icewine experiences that will elevate your five senses:

Image Courtesy of Niagara Wine Festival: Icewine Gala

Xerox Icewine Gala| Friday, January 15, 2016, 7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. See the Grand Ballroom transformed into a winter wonderland at the Fallsview Casino Resort, in Niagara Falls at the Xerox Icewine Gala – this year’s theme is Casino Royale. The sight of the ballroom will leave you in awe as ice sculptures decorate the room, adding to the evening’s icewine theme. Wineries border the room offering tastings of sparkling, white, red, and of course, icewine for guests to enjoy, while decadent food stations are scattered throughout the room offering delectable bites to complement the wine. Like ice in a glass, let the night melt away as you swoon and sway to the live music with your dancing partner.

Photo courtesy of Alison Oppenlaender

Discovery Pass | January 15-17, 22-24, 29-31, 2016, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Taste the diverse flavours of icewine with the Niagara Wine Festival Discovery Pass and visit eight of thirty-seven participating wineries with your pass. Explore the many ways icewine pairs with sweet, savoury, salty and spicy, while tasting different types of icewines, such as Vidal, Riesling and Cabernet Franc. This pass is a great chance to experience a winter weekend in wine country; use the pass throughout the three weekends, as you don’t need to visit all eight wineries in one day.

Image courtesy of Wine Marketing Association of Ontario: Icewine Cocktail Competition

Icewine Tour at Inniskillin | Tour time: 1:00 p.m. Hear the icewine tales at Inniskillin Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake weekends only during the Niagara Icewine Festival. This popular winery produced the first vintage of Ontario icewine in 1984, and in 1989 their icewine won the prestigious Grand Prix d’Honneur at Vinexpo in Bordeaux, France, forever positioning Canada as an icewine leader. If you are lucky, you will be able to see the icewine grapes on the vines anxiously awaiting the desired temperature to drop to -10°C before they are hand-harvested. During this in-depth tour, you will learn how icewine is made and hear stories of dedicated workers and winemakers – Icewine is not easy to produce, but after tasting the selection of Inniskillin icewines at the tour’s end, you’ll agree it’s worth the hard work.

Image Courtesy of Peller Estates

Twenty Valley’s Winter WineFest | Saturday, January 16, 2016, 12:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. Smell the sweet aromas of icewine-infused marshmallows roasting over fires and food stations from local chefs at Twenty Valley’s Winter WineFest in Jordan Village. Quench your palette with locally inspired nosh and local wine samples; groove to the sound of live music; “ooh” and “aah” at a fashion show; and watch winemakers battle it out at the annual ‘Winemakers Barrel Rolling Challenge.’ Admission is complimentary, and wine and food tokens are $2.00 each. Dress warm as this event takes place outside.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Village | Saturday, January 23, 2016, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Touch extravagant ice sculptures while walking along the historic Queen Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the annual Icewine Village. Sample red, white and sweet libations from the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake and enjoy bite-sized treats from the Signature Kitchen Chefs. Mingle with winery staff and shop at quaint boutiques that line the street, while the soft tunes of Canadian Jazz add an extra beat to your stroll. Complimentary admission; food and wine tokens can be purchased at select stations along the street. Stay late and take part in the exciting Flash and Panache: Icewine Cocktail Competition where local mixologists add different icewines to their cocktails. Sample each cocktail creation and judge for yourself on who should be the 2016 Icewine Cocktail Champion.

Image courtesy of Peller Estates
Image courtesy of Peller Estates

If you can’t make it to Niagara’s wine country, celebrate the icewine season at home by hosting an icewine party. Serve icewine chilled at 10°, as the cold creates a balance to the sweetness – just add your icewine bottle to the fridge two hours before opening. Traditionally, icewine is served in smaller glasses, such as flutes, but a regular white wine glass works just as well. Pair the icewine with a treat that is lighter and less sweet, or something savoury and full-flavoured. Try a selection of blue cheeses, dried apricots and figs with a Riesling or Vidal icewine, and dark chocolate with a Cabernet Franc or Syrah icewine. Mix it up and find your perfect icewine pairing. Cheers!

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