The entire month of January has been a month of celebrating icewine in the Niagara region. There’s been a slew of dinners, balls and festivals all over town. My favourite part of the Niagara Icewine Festival is the Discovery Pass.
Valid from January 9-11, 16-18, 23-25 for only $40 per person, the Discovery Pass lets you visit and taste pairing from 8 participating wineries of your choice. Each winery offers a unique culinary dish paired with, of course, a glass of wine.
We decided to explore the wines of Twenty Valley (Jordan, Ont & Vineland, Ont) as we usually just head straight for Niagara on the Lake. This was a nice chance to visit some new wineries!
When we first picked up our Discovery Pass, we looked at the amount of wineries and decided to split the list into two days. ….five hours later, we realized that we did 8 wineries in one day.
Our first stop was Kacaba Vineyards Winery. We watched Iron Chef Niagara, Darren Stoute. Savour prepare grilled panini with creamy brie, arugula, ripe red apple and pear topped with a drizzle of honey and Icewine.
We paired this with Kacaba’s Gewürztraminer Icewine. This was the sweetest icewine of the day, and although it was good, it was a little too cloying for me.
Our next winery visit was to 13th Street Winery I thought this winery was beautiful! They also have a small bakery that sells pot pies and cookies.
The pairing was Gamay Noir with pulled pork and a delicious cheese corn bread baked in the on site bakery. You can also take a peek at the art!
Stoney Ridge Estate Winery had my favourite icewine, and my first cab franc icewine of the season. This wine was delicious and paired super well with their fantastic 2010 Cabernet Franc Icewine.
The wine was paired with a mini tart filled with BBQ pulled pork and topped with pear and apple chutney.
I really liked this winery. It’s split into two levels, and upstairs there’s a small deli that sells delicious cheese! They sell Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, and I bought myself a delicious slice of their Tipsy cheese.
The Mike Weir Winery had the best view of all the wineries that we visited. We enjoyed a glass of their 2012 Vidal Icewine….
….while munching on this deliciously filling Thai Peanut Chicken Nachos. It felt more like a tostado, and it was really good. This would be a good stop to spend the $10 on for a taste if you didn’t buy the pass.
Ridgepoint Wines Tuscan Spiced meat pie was a favorite from the day. The meat was spiced just right, and the flaky pastry crust was amazing. It was paired a 2012 Cabernet Icewine and 2010 Reserve Merlot. In total, there were 3 bites. A crostini with gorgonzola and red pepper Icewine jelly, and a chocolate truffle. It was a really great pairing. We were told to take a bite of each sample and then a sip of both wines to see which pairing we liked better. It was fun!
We warmed up with a cup of soup in front of a toasty fireplace at Fielding Estate Winery. The soup was roasted butternut squash soup with hints of ginger and maple, topped with toasted pumpkin seeds. The toasted pumpkin seeds were an amazing addition, and one that I will try at home! This was paired with a choice of 2012 Riesling Icewine or 2012 Gewürztraminer. We chose the latter.
At this point, we realized that we pretty much only had two more wineries to go before we had done all 8. We decided to take one for the team, and finish all the wineries in one day. It was definitely time for some dessert.
We got our dessert fix at Tawse Winery with a savoury (rosemary, blue cheese, pancetta) and sweet (vanilla, candied lemon, créme fraîche) shorebread duo. We paired this with their dry sparkling Riesling, aptly named Spark.
At this point, we are filled with wine and food but we have room for just one more dessert!
At Legends Estates Winery, we admire their beautiful illustrated wine labels as we dig into our last pairing of the day. A creamy chocolate ice cream with a soft caramel centre, paired with a Legends Sparkling Rosé.
Afterwards, we brave the frigid air for a peek of the lake. The perfect end for a day filled with wine and food.
To find out more about the Discovery Pass Experience, visit www.niagarawinefestival.com/discovery-pass-experiences