A few years ago, I went to my first Niagara Icewine Festival. I didn’t really know what to expect, but it was a fun activity and something I plan on doing again this year. Since I have been to several of them, I thought I would share some tips on how to make your day a good one in the event you’re going (also applicable to any wine tours festivals around the world):
- Go over the options: there are dozens of wineries that participate in the festival, so it’s good to check out the list of venues, what they offer and determine your top choices. I suggest picking 9 or 10, knowing that the wine festival pass only gives eight options because sometimes places run out of food!
- N.B. Apparently anything with bacon is a top priority for people, so if you love bacon go for that first!
- Plan your route: there is nothing worse than zigzagging back and forth, wasting gas, time and money. Niagara wine region is huge (see map below), so it helps make your day easier if you plan your driving route ahead of time. I use Google Maps to plot out the locations and determine the route that makes the most logical sense. If it’s easier, just stay in one coloured area as opposed to going to both.
- Have a D.D.: Choose a designated driver. While a sip here and there probably won’t hurt, a full day of drinking may. The festival sells Driver’s Discovery Passes for a reduced cost. The driver still gets to eat the same delicious food, but they are served a non-alcoholic drink instead of wine.
- Time: Allocate plenty of time to do your tour. Although I find lines are relatively short and quick for each winery, you want to be able to sip and savour your drink and food before jumping on to the next winery.
- Dress: Wear comfy shoes and dress appropriately. There’s nothing worse than going through a long day with sore feet and nippy fingers and toes.
All else fails, if you hate planning and nobody wants to be the “D.D.”, you could always find a local company that will bring you around to the wineries. The downside is they tend to be overly priced and they only go to a select number of wineries (usually 4).
And just as a teaser, I thought I would post this picture that I took at several of the wineries in 2013 – icewine with scallops on a bed of spinach. Yum!
And here’s another – cucumber with cheese, a slice of baguette with crumbly goat cheese and a shot of icewine in a chocolate “shot glass.”
For the next three weekends, Niagara will be holding their annual Icewine Festival for 2017. If you haven’t ever been, I highly recommend trying this awesome culinary event.