Ontario Wine Culture

It’s the early days of 2020 and negative double digit temperatures have you feeling like hibernating, but the fun in wine country doesn’t slow down when the temperature drops. In fact a lot of the highlights of the local wine country calendar happen or sell out before the snow melts. So here are some of our favourites from the first half of the year to start planning your calendar around.

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Backhouse chef Ryan Crawford’s signature egg. One of the many great Niagara wine country dishes at Cuvée 2019. Photo by Michael Di Caro.

The Icewine Festival

Dates: Jan. 17-26th

Location: Niagara-on-the-Lake & Twenty Valley

Details: https://niagarawinefestival.com/

Not only is Icewine one of the premier dessert wines of the world, but it’s also the wine that put the rest of the world on notice that Canada wineries were up-and-comers to watch. So it’s only fitting that the start of a new year in Niagara wine country is kicked off by the 25th edition of the Icewine festival. The festival begins with the gala in Niagara Falls before moving to the quaint Jordan Village for a street party centred around the cool climate wines of the Twenty Valley and finishing off in the heart of historic Niagara-on-the-Lake where local wineries will be pouring Icewine to pair with a taste of wine country cuisine from local restaurants. This year’s celebration extends a little further into mid-February courtesy of a unique wine-focused pop-up dining experience called the Snow Globe Soirée. It brings together some of region’s most celebrated chefs serving inmate dinners to pair along side local wines in ten heated domes offering unforgettable views of the lights and natural beauty of snow-covered Niagara Falls.

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Meet the Makers

Dates: Feb 8, 2020

Location: Lake Erie North Shore

Details: https://www.epicwineries.com/events-slug/epic-meet-the-makers-tour/

It might seems odd to pick the middle of winter to explore Ontario’s warmest region, but the timing is actually paradoxically ideal. With its longer growing season and extra sunshine the north shore of Lake Erie has the best potential to consistently make some of the province’s biggest and boldest red wines—precisely the kind of wine you want filling your glass when the only reasonable response to the weather forecast is to get under your thickest blanket and hibernate for another day. While Meet the Makers will require you to get out from under that blanket, the all-in-one tour includes tastings, food pairings and transposition to a handful of wineries where you can mingle, learn and explore with the folks behind capturing Ontario summer sunshine and putting it in your glass of winter-warming red.

Vinter Fest

Dates: Feb. 14-17th

Location: Prince Edward County

Details:facebook.com/vinterfestpec

This year the wineries of Prince Edward County are giving you a compelling reason to explore their bucolic wine region in winter too. On both the Valentine’s and Family Day weekend wineries throughout the County will be pouring wines alongside special food pairings and hosting music, art and outdoor winter activities. It’s a great way to experience the quieter side of the region before the summer tourism rush and get a preview of what’s to come.

The gentle rolling hills of the Beamsville Bench. Photo by: Michael Di Caro.

Cuvée

Dates: April 24-26th

Location: Niagara

Details: http://cuvee.ca/

Niagara’s original celebration of local wine and community fundraiser in one has grown to be bigger than ever under the guiding hand of Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute. This year’s Cuvée promises to bring winemakers from appellations across the province to Niagara to personally pour their favourite wines making it the best spot to experience Ontario’s diverse array of red, white, rosé, sparkling and dessert wines. No great wine party is complete without great food so once again some of Niagara’s top chefs will be serving creative wine country bites to accompany those winemaker favourites. Since Cuvée is also an industry fundraiser, proceeds go to Brock University students and research to help the industry continue to grow. Now is the best time to grab tickets with the early bird discount lasting until the end of the January.

Graze The Bench

Dates: Jun. 6-7th

Location: Beamsville Bench

Details: http://www.grazethebench.com/

This popular annual event always sells out and aims to prove that the true Ontario wine country trifecta is good food, great music and excellent wine. Focused around some of the top wineries on the Beamsville Bench this is a concentrated event where attendees can winery hop with some of the best views Niagara wine country offers while enjoying sun and tunes with some of the newest wine releases and creative bites from top local chefs.

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