Winter in Niagara, Icewine and Twenty Valley Winter Wine Festival weekend one

Yesterday we took some time to enjoy the first weekend of Niagara Icewine Festival.   We were really avoiding taking our Christmas tree down and cleaning up our living room.   I think we made a very good choice!  Having not planned ahead we needed to find an Icewine Discovery Pass.  We headed off to the nearest winery and found ourselves at Ravine Vineyard.  Ravine is located in the town of St. Davids nestled between Niagara Falls and Queenston. Our previous visits had been a long time ago when this winery was very young.  Wow, they have come a long way!  We both loved the winery retail store and grocery. It is a bit kitschy but in a good way, in keeping with the farmhouse theme.  Sheep, rabbits, stone bakeware and cheese!  It was fun to just browse and admire all the hard work that it took to restore the building.  In the front hallway is a clever display with an old window pane filled with photos of their restoration journey.

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Upon purchasing our passports we were directed to the barrel cellar.  The visual down there is just stunning!  Charcuturie plates and wine awaited us amongst the candlelight and barrels.  The pork charcuterie offerings were from the Ravine raised Blackworth pigs.  The wine pairing was a 2011 meritage, with its balanced tannins and 2012 Estate Riesling with a a nice sweet, acid palate, it went perfectly with our food.  The star of the plate was the in-house pickled, shaved fennel.  I was sad to find out that I couldn’t take a jar home with me.  We plan to go back for dinner and honestly we’re not sure how we missed this little gem, it is so close to home.

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Our next stop was Malivoire, located in Beamsville on the bench.  I know they’re not close but we wanted to check out their offerings from one of our culinary partners Wellington Court Restaurant and then head over to the Twenty Valley Winter Winefest. We were welcomed at the front with a tasting of 2012 Pinot Gris with citrus notes and farm fresh fruits.  They had paired it with a Lancashire cheese from Cheesy Guys. With its limited availability the cheese just had to go home with me.  Of course not to be deflected from our real reason for visiting, we ventured further into the winery for our passport tasting.  The pairing of 2011 Old Vines Foch with a hint of oak , berries and vanilla, was outstanding with the sticky braised short ribs and gold potato croquette with black fruit caramel.

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We really enjoyed meeting Wellington Court‘s, Garde manger, Islay and Malivoire‘s own Vladimir. They both had an infectious love for wine and food and that made for an interesting and informative visit. It was nice to see local products in the retail store including a favourite of mine…..I know I do have a few favourites….Della Terra Fresh Olive Oil and Balsamic Tasting Bar.  This relatively new addition to the Niagara Region located on Martindale Road, offers quality olive oil and balsamic vinegars at a very reasonable price.

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Since we started a little late in the day we decided it was time to drop by Jordan’s, Twenty Valley Winter Winefest.  Although parking looked like it would be a challenge we were happy to find out that there were shuttles running from nearby parking lots and off we went in a party limo to continue our fun!   First stop was Gastronomo Vagabundo for red chicken curry.  If you have followed us on Twitter or Facebook you will know that this tasty little dish has created a bit of a curry addiction for me!  I may need a support group soon.

We found a place to stand outside by a fire bowl and got to enjoy the warm January day, recalling that earlier in the week it was -40 with the wind chill.  We spotted a new area where we found an old friend Evan Saviolidis from Wine Savvy Consultants drinking wine and hanging out with some peeps from Jacuzzi Ontario.  Wine, hot tubs and winter, what a combination.  They tried to sell me one but hubby steered me away and tried to distract me.

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A stroll around the festival found us running into so many fantastic chefs, wine makers and foodie friends.  We stopped to say hi to Kevin from The Smokin Buddha, Dale from Wellington Court and Sue Ann from Staff Wines amongst other friends who were not so photogenic.  Seriously though, I need to get a better camera, the iPhone just doesn’t cut it.

It was all about Niagara’s food and wine scene and it was a good time!  Tired out from our busy work week we forgo the “after party” but we make mental note to plan better next time.

Check out next week’s blog as we continue our Icewine Celebration in Niagara on the Lake.

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