This Christmas we decided to give our oldest son tickets to the Niagara Icewine Festival as a Christmas present. Yes, we know it might sound odd to some but he’s an old soul and has become quite the connoisseur of Ice Wine.
It’s a gorgeous day. Sunny and -15 Celcius out and no wind. Perfect conditions for our icewine tour. We are lucky to live an hour away from Niagara wine country. Similar to producing Maple Syrup, the Niagara Wine region, in Canada, produces some of the Worlds finest Icewines. As you can imagine we have the perfect climate to do so.
The Niagara Penninsula (Ontario’s warmest sub-appellation) contributes to Canada’s reputation as the largest producer of Icewine in the world. We have the proper requirements to produce icewine and unfortunately or fortunately for the grape growers, winter happens every year. If you come to Toronto in January, this is a must on your itinerary. It’s a 1.5 hour trip from TO.
The Natural process requires a hard freeze which means that temperatures need to crop to −8 °C (17 °F) after the grapes ripen[^1]. The grapes are harvested (you can volunteer at the winery to do that ) often in the middle of the night so that they can be pressed frozen. The process is labour intensive and because of the high sugar content fermentation takes longer than regular wine. The yields are lower and the bottles are usually in the 375ml range but twice the price of your typical bottle of wine. With the high sugar content, they will cellar for years. This past Christmas we opened a 2010 Vidal – it was perfect.
The Tour – Eight wineries in a day.
1. Reif Estate Winery
At Reif Estate we tasted the 2015 Vidal Icewine. They started producing icewine in 1984 and is home to some of the oldest vinifera plantings in Canada.
2. Strewn Winery
Next stop was Strewn Winery. We tasted a 2013 Cabernet Franc icewine. It’s not the traditional Vidal white. It was different and more fruity nuances than the Vidal’s.
3. Konzelmann Estate Winery
We headed over to one of the older winery’s in Ontario, Konselmann Estate. We’ve enjoyed their wine for many years. It’s very satisfying to sip it at the winery itself. Here we enjoyed a 2017 Vidal icewine and some chicken stew.
4. Palatine Hills Estate Winery
We kept to the ‘old guard’ of the wineries and trekked over to Palatine Hills Estate Winery. The tasting was of an older 2012 Vidal.
5. Kacaba Vineyards Winery
One of the newer winery’s, Kacaba Vineyards produces smaller batches by hand.
6. 13th Street Winery
At 13th Street Winery, we were greeted with a nice warm fire. The sun started to recede and the snow began to fall. We sampled their 2015
Riesling icewine along with some black truffle gnocchi.
Not on the Tour … side trip …
Wayne’s World! Wayne’s World! As hockey fans, we made a side trip to No. 99 Winery and distillery. I had to see what the buzz was. In 2017 Wayne Gretzky opened the first combined winery and distillery in Ontario.
Back on track… 7. Vineland Estates Winery
Sticking to the older wineries and a favourite of ours we visited Vineland Estates. We were nearing the end of the day and the crowds were thinning out. We had the tasting bar all to ourselves. We tasted the 2016 Vidal icewine.
8. Tawse Winery
Just up the road from Vinland was Tawse Winery. It’s a young winery, with all the technical accoutrements not found in many of the older wineries. The winery boasts to be the state-of-the-art winery, with a six-level, gravity-flow design,
That’s a wrap on our Icewine tour. We hope you enjoyed travelling with us around wine country. If you happen to be in the area I would highly suggest a tour.
- Niagara Icewine Festival – http://www.niagarawinefestival.com
- All About Icewine – https://winecountryontario.ca/wine-101/story-icewine
- Reif Estate Winery – https://reifwinery.com/
- Strewn Winery – https://www.strewnwinery.com/
- Konzelmann Estate Winery – http://www.konzelmann.ca/
- Palatine Hills Estate Winery – http://www.palatinehillsestatewinery.com
- Kacaba Vineyards Winery – https://kacaba.com/
- 13th Street Winery – https://13thstreetwinery.com/
- Vineland Estates Winery – https://vineland.com/
- Tawse Winery – https://www.tawsewinery.ca/
- Wayne Gretzky Estates – http://www.gretzkyestateswines.com/
[^1]: Icewine – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_wine