Get ready to sip some VQA wines and taste some gourmet pairings, as the popular Taste the Season tour of NOTL's wineries returns this month.
Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake chair Andrea Kaiser said she's looking forward to getting people back into wineries to try great food and wine pairings, noting this will be the first in-person experience held by the wine group since the global pandemic was declared in 2020.
Like so many other events, Kaiser said Taste the Season has been reinvented due to the ongoing pandemic — but she says it could be a blessing in disguise.
Because of restraints for COVID screening, Kaiser said the group decided to slow the pace of the tour a bit this year.
Instead of offering tastings at 20 different wineries, which can become rushed, tickets will be for longer, more robust pairings at four wineries. Each pairing will require a reservation to be made beforehand.
She thinks the new format will offer a more “intimate” experience for ticket holders, who will be able to really soak up the experience by spending longer at each winery — plus a bit bigger portions of food.
“We looked for that silver lining of COVID: our team members really enjoying spending more time with individual guests, guests really enjoying that one-on-one experience,” Kaiser said.
“We've realized that I think the customer actually ends up having a better experience when there is a reservation made, when there is more time allocated, when we do have time to spend with them and talk about the wines.”
She said each pairing experience will be a minimum of half an hour.
“It's just allowing the wineries also to express their own wine brands and their experiences a little bit more intimately,” she said. “Each winery is really putting a little bit more energy and investment into the experience for the guests.”
Taste the Season runs the entire month of November on any Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Items on the menu include “Gnocchi Dokie” at Konzelmann Estate Winery, which will see “pillowy soft gnocchi” paired with a 2020 reserve chardonnay. Pillitteri Estate Winery will be serving up a tomato bisque paired with its Carretto Cabernet Franc.
Tickets for a one-day pass are available for $75 plus tax at wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com/shop. Visits must be booked in advance at set times of 11 a.m., 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. each day, based on availability.
COVID-19 precautions and proof of vaccination are required at all locations.