Niagara-on-the-Lake’s icewine festival village was kicked off with weather fit for an icey weekend of wine tasting.
Saturday and Sunday marked the first weekend of Queen Street’s Icewine Village, featuring icewine tastings, talks, cocktail recipes and live music.
The temperature on Saturday, at a low of -12 C, didn’t scare crowds away — in fact, many people said they were happy to see some snow on the ground.
Nicole Scheid moved to New Zealand 18 years ago and tries to make it back to Canada during the holiday season. This year was her first time visiting NOTL’s Icewine Festival.
“I wanted to come into town and grab some photos of the snow for my friends because snow is a novelty,” she joked.
Scheid left for New Zealand the next day and after a relatively snow-free trip, the downpour on Saturday was a pleasant surprise.
While it’s summer in New Zealand, Scheid had been experiencing a “bit of a heatwave” before coming down to NOTL.
“I’m loving it knowing that I’m going back to the heat,” she said.
NOTL Chamber of Commerce president Minerva Ward, who took the lead on the Icewine Festival, also shared her satisfaction with the wintery conditions.
“I think it’s a very Canadian thing, so not many visitors mind being out in the cold,” Ward told The Lake Report.
She added that many guests come from places as far as Ukraine and Thailand to get a taste of Canadian winter.
“The snow on the ground adds a special charm, so I’m actually happy that it’s been snowy and cold rather than rainy and brown,” she said.
For those at the festival who are used to the snow, the weekend was all about keeping warm.
Kathleen Meyer and Dhruv Sonkusale poured up icewine glasses for Riverview Cellars throughout the festival weekend.
“We had double layers of socks, gloves, hand warmers and foot warmers,” Sonkusale told The Lake Report.
He was looking for heated gloves before heading out on Sunday, but sadly no stores were carrying them, he said.
“So, we put warmers in the gloves,” Meyer added.
Other tents didn’t have to worry so much about the cold.
“This isn’t our first time doing events like this, so we’ve brought with us a small propane gas heater,” said Alan Dickson, owner of PigOut Catering.
“We also roasted an entire pig and that gives off a lot of heat,” Dickson said.
Whether you were looking forward to snow or itching to warm up by the fireplaces along the village route, the first Icewine Village weekend did not disappoint.
The village will return next Saturday and Sunday. This year’s festival admission is free and tastings are cashless following a pay-as-you-go method.