When life hands you sub-degree temperatures, make icewine.
That’s at least what Niagara has become famous for doing, and across the region winemakers are preparing to celebrate the sweet seasonal gift during the 23rd annual Niagara Icewine Festival.
The festival, which runs from Jan. 12 to 28, will feature “street parties” in three different Niagara communities, seasonal food and wine pairings at more than 35 wineries and a launch gala to kick off the festivities.
Visitors will have an opportunity to taste the best icewines Niagara has to offer and learn how it’s made — all with a backdrop of one of the country’s most-famous winter landscapes.
“This truly is a one-of-a-kind experience that allows people to see a different side of Niagara and enjoy our Canadian winter in a fun and memorable way,” said Anthony Annunziata, executive director of Tourism Partnership of Niagara.
“The festival always draws people from all over North America, who want to get in on the celebration.”
This year’s icewine harvest in Niagara will begin as soon as conditions are right. Temperatures have to dip below minus 8 degrees Celsius — ideally between -10 and -12 degrees Celsius — for several hours before growers can begin harvesting grapes by hand that have been left on the vine to freeze. The grapes are pressed while frozen to extract highly concentrated juice that gives icewine its sweet flavour.
A few highlights of the festival include:
The Niagara Icewine Gala at Fallsview Casino and Resort on Jan. 12, featuring Canada's largest VQA icewine and wine tasting from more than 35 wineries. Casino chefs will also be on hand creating paired dishes.
Twenty Valley Winter WineFest runs from Jan. 12 to Jan. 14 in Jordan Village. The annual event brings together Niagara's top winemakers, chefs and premium VQA wines in an outdoor festival featuring ice sculptures, fire pits and live entertainment.
The Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival features a mix of wine, food and entertainment at a variety of events between Jan. 19 and Jan. 28.
The town’s historic Queen Street will also transform into a winter icewine wonderland on Jan. 20 and 21, featuring the icewines of 26 Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries, joined by Signature Kitchen Chefs who will serve up icewine-inspired culinary creations.
The Niagara Falls Icewine Festival at the Scotiabank Convention Centre wraps up the final weekend with the largest icewine, wine, food and live entertainment experiences on the weekend of Jan. 26 and 27, featuring more than 20 Niagara wineries, as well as dishes prepared by some of Niagara’s top chefs. The closing festival will also include live musical performances and an “icewine marshmallow” feature where people can toast them over an open flame.
“In addition to enjoying events, the Icewine Festival is a fantastic time to tour wineries and experience how beautiful Niagara is during winter,” says Annunziata.
“We’re fortunate to live in a part of Canada that really embraces the season and knows how to celebrate it, no matter what the weather outside.”