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A barrel of fun: The glitz, glamour, wine and food of Niagara’s favourite winter celebration

Niagara Icewine

By Monica Kosior

This past weekend officially kicked off the Icewine festivities in Niagara. Whether you were dressing up or bundling up — Niagara offered plenty to do!

Xerox Icewine Gala:
Sugar & Spice … Everything Ice

On Friday (Jan. 13) the annual Xerox Icewine Gala was held at the Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls. Niagara wineries brought their very best Icewines and table wines. Along with the wines, chefs representing the Fallsview Casino Resort were nothing short of sensational with their creations. As soon as you walked through the doors at the Grand Hall, you were greeted by beautiful sights, sounds and smells. Live food demonstrations (visually enhanced with dry ice and liquid nitrogen) entertained guests, while Sandy Vine and the Midnights played in the background. I knew the night would be one to remember once I witnessed multiple wineries pouring their Icewine samples through an ice sculpture luge.

Canada Icewine

Attendees ranged from Niagara locals, to Toronto wine lovers and some even from as far away as Banff, Alberta. Everyone’s opinion about the evening was collectively positive. Whether it was their first time to the event or their 5th, expectations were exceeded by the effort and collaboration given by both the wineries and culinary staff. Since it was also my first time to the gala, I wanted to ask guests what they loved about the event and what would they tell anyone who hasn’t attended yet. By and large they said the food always was a draw, but they gave kudos to all the wineries. Being able to taste some of Niagara’s best Icewines and table wines was what guests looked forward to. They didn’t have to travel to each winery, the wineries came to them all in one room.

Best Ontario Icewine

The evening was spectacular. I highly recommend the annual Xerox Icewine Gala if you are looking to enjoy a formal evening of Niagara’s best.

Niagara icewine

Twenty Valley Winter WineFest

On Saturday (Jan. 14) I attended the Winter WineFest hosted by the Twenty Valley Tourism Association. The event, held on the shut-down main street of Jordan, started on Friday evening and continued until Sunday afternoon. The majority of the festivities were held outside (fashion show, barrel rolling contest, food and beverage sampling) but we didn’t have to worry about the cold. The organizers were well prepared with fire pits and warming stations, even a warming tent for guests and their furry friends.

Attendees have been dedicated for years to visiting Jordan Village and the Winter WineFest — the majority of the people I spoke to were locals simply supporting locals. But this year the event broke records — over 10,000 attendees in total visited over the weekend. The village transformed into a tasting event where 22 wineries from the Twenty Valley poured their best, Dillion’s Distillery stirred up some warm and cold cocktails and new comer Bench Brewing Co. served up their brand new craft beers. Local restaurants joined in the action too, ranging from winery associated restaurants to some of Niagara’s up and coming culinary locations. It was guaranteed you weren’t leaving this event hungry or thirsty.

This is what I love about Niagara, there’s something for everyone. It was a great weekend enjoying Wine Country, I hope you were able to partake in some or all of the events. I wanted to thank everyone who played a part in making these events possible, Niagara Wine Festivals and Twenty Valley Tourism, for bringing together the communities to support our local businesses. Thank you to the volunteers who also put in many hours of hard work for all guests to enjoy! Cheers.

Note: The Niagara Icewine Festival continues for two more weekends. See here for this weekend’s festivities in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Note Two: Photos by Monica Kosior and Rick VanSickle