Whether you are an ice wine connoisseur or just enjoy an occasional glass of the unique, sweet dessert wine there is a special January month-long event (weekends only) celebrating the extraordinary libation (known as Niagara's "Golden Nectar") in the Niagara Falls area of Ontario, Canada. It is approximately a 4 hour drive from Cleveland to the Niagara, Ontario region.
A Bit About Ice Wine Ice wines are made from frozen grapes (mostly of the Reisling, Vidal or Cabernet Franc varieties) that have been left on the vines as autumn goes into winter. The grapes must reach a temperature of 17 degrees below zero before they can be picked, at which point they are then pressed immediately before the grapes can thaw. All of the picking of the fruit is done at night and the pressing is done in the early morning the next day. Canada is the largest producer of ice wine in the world.
Niagara Ice Wine Festival The festivities for the 18th annual Niagara Ice Wine Festival include the Gala Queen's Ball being held on Friday, January 11 from 8 p.m. - 11 p.m. at the Fallsview Casino and Resort in Niagara Falls. Activities include musical entertainment, ice wine and table wine tastings (Canada's largest event of this type) with wines from over 30 area wineries, cuisine prepared by Fallsview chefs and a silent auction. Cost is $185 per person.
Activities during the various weekends of the Festival take place throughout the Niagara region in venues like Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, St. Catherine's and Jordan. Twenty-eight wineries from the Niagara-on-the-Lake area will be participating in the event. Just a few of the participating wineries are Inniskillin, Konzelman, Peller Estates, Reif, Riverview Cellars, Trius Winery at Hillebrand and Hinterbrook Estate Winery.
Visitors can purchase a Discovery Pass for $40 that allows for 8 wine tasting experiences at wineries along the Niagara Wine Trail which can be used on any of the weekends.
Organized by area restaurants, wineries and other venues, the multitude of activities for visitors include winery tours, wine tastings, food pairing events, cheese and wine seminars, chestnut roasts, ice sculpting, ice skating, a chili event, an ice wine cocktail competition and a chance to sample ice wines from outside bars made entirely out of ice.
Admission to the Niagara Ice Wine Festival is free but there are charges for some of the activities.
Reminder: You will need a passport to enter Canada. It is approximately a 4 hour drive from Cleveland to the Niagara Falls area of Ontario, Canada.