Christine's Corner

Niagara Grape and Wine Festival

This weekend was awesome. John and I went to the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival and had an absolutely amazing time. We stayed at our favourite B & B, Home and Hearth (www.homeandhearth.ca) Thelma, the owner of the B & B, is the sweetest woman you will ever meet. We’ve been going to this particular B & B for the last five years, because of the hospitality we receive while being there, and for the best home made waffles; piled high with strawberries, blueberries, bananas and two scoops of luscious vanilla ice cream, it is a little taste of heaven. Our 2 days were packed full of visiting great wineries and relaxing with one another. Our first stop was Creekside Estate Winery where we met with Creekside’s Director of Marketing, Matt Loney; Winemaker, Rob Power; and President, Barry Katzman for a look inside both the Creekside and Mike Weir Estate Wineries. These wineries both have very distinct styles and both have outstanding wines; the Creekside 2006 Shiraz is fabulous to drink now and could even be laid down for another 5 years. We also had the opportunity to try the “just released” 2006 Sauvignon Blanc; definitely something worth trying again and again. Following our visit to Creekside we made our way to Fielding Estates where wine region meets cottage country. Muskoka Chairs are available to sit, sip and savour the view of Fielding Estates Vineyards. We met with Heidi Fielding, Hospitality Manager; and Ray Cornell, Winemaker to discuss the extraordinary wines that are coming out of Fielding and how they came to be. I am really looking forward to seeing the finished product of both the Creekside and Fielding videos. Feeling a little peckish, we made our way to “About Thyme Bistro” where I satisfied my rumbly tummy with a curried squash soup and a grilled vegetable salad; very yummy and it hit the spot. We meandered through the wine route and decided to pull into Tawse Winery. Its operation is, truly, a marvel and a must see for everyone who visits Niagara. I ended up picking up a 2006 Echos Red, which is Tawse’s Bordeaux blend. I think I am going to lay this one down for another couple of years at the very least. 6:30 rolled around and we were off to Montebello Park in St. Catharine’s. Part of the Grape and Wine Festival, Montebello Park’s circumference was lined by Niagara wineries, popular restaurants, a VIP tent and a band shell where a great lineup ensued. We drank, we ate and had a fabulous time talking to the various wineries, including our friends from Creekside and Fielding who were serving some great wines. We finished the evening with Pillitteri’s Vidal Icewine; sweet perfection. The following morning we awoke to freshly brewed coffee and Thelma’s abundantly delicious waffles. i finished every last bite. Our first stop this morning was the Mountain Road Vine Company, followed by Kacaba Vineyards, who has tied for first as my favourite winery in Niagara. Their low yield Syrah Reserve 2004 is done in more of a Rhone style with ripe plum and raspberries on the nose and palate with firm tannins, balanced acidity and some vanilla and spice on the finish. The only downfall are the limited quantities of these great wines. They are, frequently, sold out shortly after releasing their new vintages. On the upside, they do have new plantings of Syrah that will translate into more cases for future years. Our final winery destination was Ridgepoint Wines because we were tipped off by Dave, the Retail Manager at Kacaba, that Ridgepoint was boasting the only successful planting of Nebbiolo; tar, roses, anise and strong herbal aromas describe the 2002 Ridgepoint Nebbiolo. The aggressive tannins are very well balanced by the acid, making me wonder whether the wine would further improve with another 2 or 3 years of cellaring. We finished our Grape & Wine adventure with some lunch at “Spice of Life” in Port Dalhousie and a fantastic Chocolate Almond Toffee Bar from Anna Olson’s Bakery.

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