In case you haven’t heard, ice wine is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still attached to the vine. It’s also one our most celebrated ‘tastes of place’ here in Ontario.
Ontario’s Niagara region is a large producer of the country’s icewines, and according to Wine Country Ontario, the province’s selection is considered to be some of the best icewine in the world.
As the grapes ripen and the temperatures drop, they start to dry and shrivel. Once the temperature drops to -8 degrees for a minimum of 4 days, they are ready to be hand picked. The sugars do not freeze, but the water in the grape does. That means that after pressing, you’re left with a more concentrated juice, and very little of it. It’s a fickle process because if a freeze does not come quickly enough, the grapes may rot and the crop will be lost.
So, when you combine the difficulty in harvesting, pressing and fermentation, it’s no wonder this is such a celebrated product!
CONTEST ALERT! For three weekends in January, the Niagara region is transformed into a winter wonderland, in celebration of one of Canada’s most cherished products, Ontario VQA Icewine. To win passes, head on over the Wine Country Ontario Facebook Page and share you favorite seasonal sipper using #VQAIcewineFest
For those of you looking to dive a little deeper than the glass on this luxurious sipper, the Niagara Icewine Festival is definitely worth checking out.
The 23rd edition of the Niagara Icewine Festival offers plenty for everyone – glamour and indulgence at the Niagara Icewine Gala, unique wine and food pairings at over 35 wineries, and vibrant outdoor street festivals. For the wine and culinary explorer, the Discovery Pass program is an easy to navigate ticket to eight unique pairings at your choice of over 35 wineries across the Niagara Region.
Don’t know where to start? We’ve gone through the trouble of pin pointing the five experiences we’re most excited to indulge in this weekend.
4245 King Street, Beamsville
Back by popular demand; Chef Sider’s Venison and Dark Chocolate Chili! Savour a bowl of this soul-warming crowd-pleaser alongside their 2010 Cabernet Franc Icewine…a daring non-traditional pairing that is sure to delight the palate. redstonewines.ca
Vineland Estates Winery
3620 Moyer Road, Vineland
Chocolate in one hand and Icewine in the other gives a balanced diet! Certainly tongue in cheek, but you will want your cheeks full of our dark chocolate creation paired with Cabernet Franc Icewine. The combination will warm your winter! vineland.com
Peller Estates Winery and Restaurant
290 John Street East, Niagara on the Lake
Winery Chef and CityLine personality Jason Parsons will be serving up his famous Icewine Marshmallows for you to roast over an open fire. Take in our stunning vineyard views while enjoying your sweet treat and pair it with a glass of their award winning and world-renowned Cabernet Franc Icewine. peller.com
1366 York Road, St. Davids
Sometimes, simplicity is best. Enjoy their house-made Ravine Pork Sausage topped with Lowrey Bros. Maple Mustard paired with their 2016 Reserve Riesling. ravinevineyard.com
Reif Estate Winery
15608 Niagara Parkway, Niagara-on-the-Lake
Join in for their annual pig roast! Savour their signature Vidal Icewine produced from their oldest vineyard blocks paired with Spit Roasted Porketta with apple Icewine sauce. reifwinery.com
Looking for some cool ways to use ice wine? Check out this piece on 7 MORE ways to use it!