Niagara wine

By Monica Kosior

Out with the hot and in with the cool, as quickly as summer goes by, fall is never too far behind in Niagara.

It is my favourite season of the year because it means it’s time for harvest — the most crucial part of the winemaking process.

Yes, we have to take care of the vines and prep them in the off season, yes we have to ensure nothing harms the leaves, trunks and roots, yes we pray for long, hot, dry days and cool nights. But most importantly, when it comes time to pluck the bountiful bunches off of the vines, we must be so careful that our previous efforts have not gone to waste. And as the Niagara winemakers and cellar hands are hard at work, we get to enjoy the fruits of their labour!

In Niagara

Hand sorting grapes at Hidden Bench Estate Winery on the Beamsville Bench

It is time for a big glass of Ontario VQA wine, friends and family … and a big cheers to those who make it the best wine in the world!

Check out these key events in Niagara wine country this fall.

Niagara Events

Cabernet All The Way

Do you love Cabernet? Because Ontario Cabernet loves you! This event is a dedicated weekend celebrating the best reds from Trius, Peller, Thirty Bench and Gretzky. As you visit each property, your ticket includes a 5 oz glass of Cabernet, a Govino souvenir glass, live music and estate chef, hand crafted food pairings. No better way enjoy a beautiful fall weekend, Cabernet style.

More information available here

Dates: October 13-14

Location: Various Peller wineries in Niagara

Cost: $49 per person, available online here

Niagara-on-the-Lake Events

Ontario wine

Taste The Season

With over 20 wineries participating in the fall passport program, enjoy a whole new set of wines and pairings each weekend. From the Niagara River to St. David’s Bench, make your way around NOTL snacking and swirling. Designated driver passes are also available.

More information available here

Dates: Weekends in November, 11 am-5 pm

Location: Participating wineries available here

Cost: Varying prices per passport, available online here

Hockey Night at Gretzky’s

Watch the Leafs take on the Senators with a glass of Wayne Gretzky wine or whiskey in hand. The Whisky Bar patio is the place to be as Hockey Night in Canada starts! Bring your own lawn chair and cosy blankets as you watch the game live on the big screen. Additional food and beverages available for purchase.

More information available here

Date: October 6 at 6:30 pm

Location: Wayne Gretzky Estate Winery & Distillery

Cost: $30 per person + HST, available online here  or by telephone 1-844-643-7799

Halloween Wine & Junk Food

The kids aren’t the only ones who get to enjoy the trick or treating this Halloween. Try Hare Wine Co.’s wine pairings with different chocolate, chips and candy. You’ll find your new favourite in time for October 31.

More information available here

Dates: Friday, Saturday and Sundays in October

Location: Hare Wine Co. 

Cost: $10 per person, call to reserve your spot 905-684-4994 ext. 1.

Radio Noir Series

Ravine is taking it back, radio style. Enjoy a glass of wine and snack while watching local actors and Shaw Festival alumni act out the reading series. Enjoy books of mystery, romance and suspense. The perfect alternative night while unplugging.

More information available here

Dates: October 26, November 15, November 29, December 14 at 7:30pm

Location: Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery

Cost: $40 per person + HST

Annual Nouveau Release Party

On the third Thursday of every November, Gamay Noir Nouveau is ready to pour and enjoy. Celebrate the past harvest with Reif’s wine making team and sip on the latest releases of these Beaujolais-style babes. Entry free for wine club members.

More information available here

Date: November 15 at 6-8 pm

Location: Reif Winery 

Cost: $35 per person, call 905-468-WINE or email wine@reifwinery.com to reserve

Twenty Valley Events

Balls Falls Thanksgiving Festival

Initially the festival started as a one-day farmer’s market to raise funds for the conservation area and environmental initiatives at Ball’s Falls, 44 years later the festival has grown to three days and over 170 vendors, breweries, wineries and crafters. Join the family tradition this upcoming weekend!

More information available here

Dates: October 5-8, 10 am – 5 pm

Location: Ball’s Falls Conservation Area 

Cost: $6 Admission for adults, children 13 and under free

Wrapped Up In The Valley

It’s that time of year again to take the trip down to Twenty Valley and enjoy a weekend full of fall inspired dishes paired with the best local wines. Each participating winery invites you to join them during the passport program, please note groups of 8 or more guests are required to call ahead.

More information available here

Dates: Weekends in November

Location: Twenty Valley Wineries

Cost: Varying pricing, available online here

Icewine Smores Weekends

Pass s’more wine please! Purchase your favourite Calamus wine by the glass from the boutique and head on to the campfire. Stick and s’more packages included in your purchase, roast your marshmallows away to golden perfection and enjoy the sticky dessert treat.

More information available here

Dates: October 6, 7, 13 and 14

Location: Calamus Estate Winery

Cost: Glass of wine

Vertical Dinner

Calling all Cabernet Franc lovers. Foreign Affair Winery is opening its cellar and library doors for guests to enjoy a vertical tasting of Cabernet Franc from 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015 and 2016 paired with five courses prepared by Chef Chris Brown. Italian inspired menu goes hand in hand with these Niagara gems. 2005, 2006 and 2007 vintages will be available for guests to purchase to build their own cellars, too.

More information available here

Date: October 13 at 6 pm

Location: Foreign Affair Winery 

Cost: $250 per person, available online here

Pumpkin Spice … And Everything Nice

What better way to get you in the mood for fall than pumpkin inspired dishes and wine pairings to match! Join 13th Street Winery and Nicole Jay for the wine and food seminar, pick up a couple new tips for all your fall entertaining.

More information available here

Dates: October 12, 13, 17, 24 varying times

Location: 13th Street Winery 

Cost: $25 per person, available online here

Cellar Series — Big Bold Reds

Sample through all the big bold reds hand-crafted by Richie and the team at Fielding during this exclusive taste and buy event. Try the new and unreleased wines along with charcuterie and cheese and the opportunity to get your hands on the first 2016 releases of Syrah from Fielding.

More information available here

Date: October 26 7-9 pm

Location: Fielding Estate Winery 

Cost: $30 per person, available online here

Friday Night Dinner Series

Break bread and drink great wine family style as the team at Redstone transports you to a new culinary destination each Friday. From southern BBQ to Korean themed nights, enjoy a break from your kitchen and let Redstone do the dishes too.

More information available here

Dates: November 2, December 7, February 1, March 1

Location: The Restaurant at Redstone Winery

Cost: $55 per person + HST + gratuities, wine available for purchase, call 905.563.9463 to book your seats

Fireside Fridays

Cosy up with your friends at Westcott as they present their weekly Fireside Fridays. Including a three course meal prepared by some of Ontario’s best chefs (including Chef Andrew McLeod, Ricky + Olivia, Chef Tim Cherry), pair their mouth-watering menus with Westcott’s best Chardonnays and Pinots.

More information available here

Date: Every Friday (starting after Thanksgiving and ending in March)

Location: Westcott VIneyards

Cost: $50 + HST + gratuities (wine available for purchase)