Tasting glasses at the Niagara Icewine Festival 2014
It’s easy to get caught up in city life and forget about what’s surrounding you. Even though Toronto is a city that’s rich with culture and full of things to do at any hour of the day, it’s important to take time to get out of the city every once in a while and expose yourself to the culture scene that’s just beyond us. Torontonians are particularly lucky to be located so close to the Niagara Region, where a whopping 80% of Canadian wines come from! Best of all, at only 1-1.5 hours away from the city, it’s easy to get away for a wine-filled weekend.
Some think that hanging out in Niagara is reserved for the retired, but I completely disagree. To me there is absolutely nothing better than getting out of town with a great partner in crime to indulge in some of the best wines and food that this province has to offer. If you do not enjoy lazy days spent eating and drinking in a quaint setting then, you’re right, Niagara is not for you.
Over the weekend I had the exciting opportunity to attend the Niagara Icewine Festival 2014 in Jordan, Ontario. The fun thing about attending smaller festivals outside of the city is that, for one thing, you learn that a place called Jordan in exists in Ontario!
The picturesque teeny tiny little town hosted the first of three consecutive #IceWineFest weekends that include 40 wineries from the Niagara region, food from top restaurants and caterers in the area, as well as live entertainment.
Here’s a look at my first #IceWineFest experience:
Upon walking into the main tent we were greeted by these glorious Ice Wine Tarts from On The Twenty Restaurant’s booth!
The main tent was packed, and after we picked up our tasting glasses from the lady above, we were ready to start trying some wine.
Our first wine stop was at Cave Spring to try their 2008 Reisling Ice Wine, recommended to us as one of the best.
Feeling peckish after our drive to Jordan from Toronto we carried on to find some more food, and look what we found! Have you ever seen a prettier sandwich? This one, from The Restaurant at Vineland Estates Winery, was fried chicken with ice wine pickled cabbage and aioli on a rye bun. I’m literally still craving another one now.
Moving on we washed down the amazing chicken sandwich with a 2012 Chardonnay from Fielding Estates before coming across…
We were so surprised (and happy!) to find such fresh and delicious Malpeque Bay, PEI oysters from Tide and Vine.
And because nothing goes better with oysters than a bit of bubbly, we headed over to Hernder Estate Wines for a dash of their Icewine topped with Sparkling Riesling!
Even with so much to eat and drink inside of the tents, Icewine Festival provided tons of action outside too. The street was lined with vendors, food trucks and even a stage with live music! Notable performances and appearances over the weekend included Treble Charger, and a cooking demonstration as well as book signing by Chef Chuck Hughes.
Due to a delayed arrival, we unfortunately missed out on some of the events and workshops that took place throughout the day. Thankfully we still had the opportunity to pop into some of the local shops that had stayed open late for the festival, and even let you shop around with your wine in hand! A splurged on wine and a cookbook from the Cave Spring wine shop, as well as a West German mug from a great antiques shop next door.
Of course we couldn’t leave Icewine Fest before…
Indulging in twisted potatoes and homemade bacon ketchup! (Get a visual of my happiness HERE)
…and these incredible truffle parmesan and lemon arancini balls in spicy tomato fondue and kale pesto from Wellington Court!
The only reason we left the festival early (well, before last call anyway) was to make it to our reservation at The Restaurant at Vineland Estate Winery (yes, that’s right, the creators of the amazing chicken and ice wine pickled cabbage sandwich!!). We knew were were on to something good after discovering they were behind the sandwich, but we could never have expected…THIS:
I mean… #scallops
Caution: Heading to The Restaurant at Vineland Estate Winery after a good portion of time spent at the Icewine Festival will lead to overzealous ordering that results in a bill that amounts to what might normally be split amongst a party of six. Still, it was worth it! And when we couldn’t eat anything more past the third (of our five courses) the kind staff happily packed the last two courses up for us to take home. The leftovers proved to be very handy hangover helpers come Sunday.
Personally I enjoyed an amazing deep tissue massage from Lorne, whom I cannot recommend highly enough! Unfortunately my body is currently in such a giant knot that the experience was more painful than soothing, but I knew its what I needed. Lorne was amazing because he is also an acupuncturist and was able to identify so many issues within my body (that I have often felt, and wondered about) just through key pressure points.
After a final glass of pinot grigio at The Oban’s restaurant bar it was finally time to (reluctantly) head home.
Thank you Icewine Festival, the Niagara Region, and Wine Country Ontario for such an amazing weekend! Don’t forget that you too can enjoy #IcewineFest over the next two weekends in January! Missing out would be a big and unfortunate mistake if you’re a wine and food lover!
Thinking about going to #IceWineFest or Niagara? Leave a comment with any questions you may have about your visit and I would be glad to help!