This year marks the 9th Annual International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (i4C) in Niagara and this three-day weekend celebration will be taking place July 19-21. From an idea hatched by a handful of winemakers around a summer bonfire back in 2010, the i4C has evolved into a world-class wine and culinary celebration. Over the past decade, the i4C has been instrumental in raising the profile of this noble grape by showcasing hundreds of exceptional cool climate Chardonnays from renowned Ontario and International producers. These elegant and complex wines have awakened a renewed interest and appreciation for this often misunderstood grape.
Chardonnays presented at the i4C must pass the “cool” test, meaning they must meet at least one of the following criteria – cool by coastal effect, cool by continental effect, cool by altitude, or cool by latitude. This year 53 producers from nine countries will come together to celebrate in the heart of Niagara wine country, showcasing over 95 Chardonnays and sparkling wines. Among the 29 Ontario producers, you will find the following Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake members – Château des Charmes, Inniskillin Wines, Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate, Peller Estates Winery, Queenston Mile Vineyard, Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, Southbrook Organic Vineyards, Stratus, Strewn Winery and Trius Winery. Each will feature outstanding cool climate chardonnays from the Niagara-on-the-Lake appellation.
During the three-day weekend, guests can attend one or more of the i4C Signature Events held in various locations across Niagara-on-the-Lake. The weekend will kick-off with The School of Cool on Friday, July 19, at White Oaks Resort where some of the brightest talents in the world of Cool Climate viniculture and winemaking will explore three provocative topics with accompanying tastings. The keynote speaker this year will be Julia Harding, a U.K. based author, journalist and Master of Wine. This is a must-do event if you want to expand your knowledge of Chardonnay and network with some of the industry’s finest. On Friday evening, you can sip your way through Chardonnays from all corners of the globe, poured by their winemakers, at the Flights of Chardonnay. This event is held at the Niagara District Airport, a truly unique setting to mix and mingle while sipping on Chardonnay and enjoying mouth-watering offerings from some top Niagara chefs.
On Saturday, July 20, the Cool Chardonnay World Tour Tasting & Dinner will showcase the world’s best Chardonnays and Ontario’s best cuisine. This signature event will be held at Niagara College and this year guests have the option to purchase tickets to the Tasting portion (6pm to 8pm) of the evening only. This is the only public tasting event that showcases all the International and VQA Ontario Chardonnays and Blanc de Blancs of the i4C. The dinner portion of the evening sold out quickly earlier this year.
The weekend will conclude with the Moveable Feast Brunch on Sunday, July 21. This perennial favourite will be held at Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, one of our member wineries. Ravine’s culinary team, led by Chef Matt Payne, in partnership with local artisan producers, will present a classic brunch menu highlighting regional flavours that pair harmoniously with cool climate Chardonnays. For more information about this premium wine and culinary celebration and to purchase tickets, visit coolchardonnay.org.
In addition to the signature events, there are also several Explore Wine Country Ontario Program events to choose from. Five of our member wineries are hosting Explore Wine Country events, click on the links below to learn more and to purchase tickets:
- Peller Estates Winery – The Ultimate Chardonnay Lunch
- Southbrook Organic Vineyards – Judgement of London 2010
- Stratus – The Continental Personalities of Cool Chardonnay
- Strewn Winery – Niagara/Australia: Side by Side Chardonnay Tasting & Lunch
- Trius Winery – i4C Sparkling Brunch
While in Niagara-on-the-Lake for the i4C weekend, take advantage of the free time in between signature events to visit some of our member wineries. They all have something special to offer this time of year. Download the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake map to plan your personalized itinerary.
by Laura Vertucci, Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake