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The vino is flowing at the Niagara area annual IceWine Festival

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Whether you are an icewine 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.

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A Bit About IceWine Icewines 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 icewine in the world.

Niagara IceWine Festival The festivities for the 19th annual Niagara IceWine Festival include the Xerox IceWine Gala being held on Friday, January 10 from 8 p.m. - 11p.m. at the Fallsview Casino and Resort in Niagara Falls. Activities include musical performances, icewine and table wine tastings (Canada's largest event of this type) with wines from over 40 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. Numerous 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 Estate Winery, Riverview Cellars, Trius Winery at Hillebrand and Stoney Ridge Estate.

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, cooking demonstrations, ice sculpting demonstrations, a hockey game, a comedy festival (January 25-26) and an icewine cocktail competition.

Admission to the Niagara IceWine Festival is free (all demonstrations are free) but there are charges for some of the activities.

Dates for the Niagara IceWine Festival are January 10 -12, January 17-19 and January 24-26.

There are several area hotels offering IceWine Festival getaway packages. They include the Fallsview Casino Resort (888-325-5788) and the Marriott Fallsview Hotel and Spa (905-357-7300) in Niagara Falls and the Queen's Landing (905-468-2195), Pillar & Post (905-468-2123) and the Prince of Wales Hotel (905-468-3246) in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Call for pricing and to make reservations.

Call 905-468-1950 or get online at www.winesofniagaraonthelake.com or www.niagaraicewinefestival.com for more details about times and prices of events during the Festival.

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.

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