From end-to-end, NOTL is overflowing with wineries offering delicious icewines.
On any given day it would be impossible to drink your way through them all, but with the Niagara Icewine Festival’s $49 Discovery Pass, ticket holders can try six different wine and culinary experiences over a weekend.
This year’s pass features 15 Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries among those across the region, including De Simone Vineyards, Ferox, Inniskillin, Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate, Lakeview Wine Co., Marynissen Estates, Niagara College Teaching Winery, Palatine Hills Estate Winery, Peller Estates, Pillitteri Estates Winery, Queenston Mile Vineyard, Reif Estate Winery, Riverview Cellars, Trius and Wayne Gretzky Estates.
We visited a few.
Wayne Gretzky Estates
One of the most popular stops for guests last weekend was Wayne Gretzky Estates.
Serving up the popular pairing of melted raclette cheese over rye bread with spicy Italian sausage and Cabernet Franc icewine, the weekend was a “great one,” as the winery attracted more than 500 visitors during the first weekend alone.
Walking through the doors into the tasting room one is greeted with the inviting scent of cheese with a hint of wine, it is no surprise that this destination was so popular.
“The response was bigger than what we were expecting. It’s great to have the numbers back to where they’ve been pre-pandemic,” said assistant retail and experience manager Warren Short.
Tucked away on Concession 1, Marynissen Estates offered a unique and comforting icewine experience over the weekend, pairing a Cabernet Franc icewine with artisanal macarons and scones.
“We’re pairing with the Grove (in Virgil). They made us apple pecan maple scones that we pair with our 2014 Cab Franc icewine because it has some nice rhubarb and raspberry flavours and she made dark chocolate and pistachio macarons that we unfortunately sold out of,” said retail supervisor Cathy Roy.
“We will definitely be ordering plenty more for next weekend.”
Roy said that the age on the 2014 Cab Franc brings out the strong baking spice, rhubarb and raspberry jam.
A pioneer in the icewine industry, Inniskillin partnered with chef Tim Mackiddie of Smoke and Griddle to create the ultimate pairing of its 2021 Riesling icewine with Korean fried chicken and icewine-infused kimchi.
At least 500 people were estimated to come through the winery over the weekend to try some wine from one of the first in the biz.
“It turned out to be a beautiful day, with a little bit of snow just in time for the Icewine Festival,” said estate manager Sumie Yamakawa.
Outside the tasting room, Vidal grapes were being harvested all day from 3 a.m. and onward.
Frozen grapes on the vine provided quite the sight for icewine enthusiasts coming out to this important NOTL winery.
The Discovery Pass continues during the Icewine Festival’s two weekends, Jan 20-22 and 27-29.
For more information visit https://niagarawinefestival.com/discovery-pass.