There are so many reasons to love winter in Ontario. Here’s another: Icewine.
Ontario’s Niagara region experiences the perfect climate for producing this liquid gold.
Icewine is made from grapes left on the vine past the typical harvest season, until the temperature dips to approximately minus eight degrees Celsius. Once frozen, they are carefully hand-picked and processed immediately. Icewine production is a time-sensitive, labour-intensive process that also requires more vines than any other wine. The freeze concentrates the sugar and minerals in the grape, resulting in a complex liquid with a perfect balance of acidity and sweetness.
The birth of Icewine dates back to a happy accident in late 1700s Europe with an unexpectedly early frost. However today, a combination of our climate and dedicated winemakers have put Ontario on the map as a world leader in Icewine production.
Although commonly compared to a dessert wine, Icewine can confidently pair with savoury starters and mains, such as bold cheeses and succulent seafood dishes.
Here are five ways to imbibe this luscious elixir.
Photo credit: Niagara Icewine Festival
REVEL IN ICEWINE
Gather with Icewine producers, connoisseurs and enthusiasts for three spectacular weekends of indoor and outdoor merriment in January during the annual Niagara Icewine Festival. Sample the region’s finest Icewine paired with cuisine prepared by local chefs, enjoy live entertainment, stroll by outdoor ice sculptures and festival lights, warm up by the firepits and take home your commemorative sampling glass.
ICEWINE AND CHILL
Book Vintage Hotel’s Icewine Lovers Getaway for an Icewine-themed escape with your someone special. Stay at one of three boutique properties, linger over a three-course dinner with Icewine sampling, and enjoy an Icewine tasting tour at three outstanding wineries nearby. Reif Estates was one of the pioneers in early Canadian Icewine production, their Grand Cabernet Franc is spectacular. Château des Charmes’ 2017 Vidal Icewine is one of the most highly regarded vintages and is well worth the visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake. Konzelmann Estate Winery’s Vidal Special Select Late Harvest has won at the Ontario Wine Awards, plus the backstory of this family-run winery is heartwarming.
ICEWINE ON ICE
Take The Greatest Winery Tour for the ultimate Icewine experience in the 10Below Icewine Lounge at Peller Estates Winery just outside of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Maintained at -10 degrees Celsius, the 300 square foot igloo-like lounge features an ice bar, seating, sculptures and a chandelier all carved out of ice. Guests stay cozy with parkas and touch screen-friendly gloves. Selfie gold.
ART OF BLENDING ICEWINE
Icewine specialists at The Ice House Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake invite you to try Icewine Slushies and Cocktails on the Ultimate Niagara Icewine Experience. This award-winning winery is dedicated exclusively to Icewine production, so it’s to be expected they are visionaries in how to enjoy it.
Hint: round up your poshest peeps and rent the five-bedroom Winemakers Lakehouse for a fancy weekend away.
Inniskillin Estate Winery is recognized as Ontario’s first Icewine maker and has channeled its extensive experience into producing a celestial Sparkling Cab Franc Icewine and a Sparkling Vidal Icewine. Both are a little less sweet due to the bubbles and both are must tries. Family run Pillitteri Estate Winery is the region’s largest Icewine estate producer with over 12 varieties including a highly recommended Gewürztraminer Icewine and … wait for it … a Chocolate Icewine!
Just died and gone to Icewine heaven? See you there!