Over the holidays, we took a trip to the Niagara region of Ontario, Canada to explore Canadian wines and to go Icewine tasting.
Icewine is a sweet wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. Production is very risky as it requires a lot of labour, you must be able to pick the whole crop within a few hours, during the first frost. This results in small amounts of Icewine being made world-wide, making it generally quite expensive.
The day we went, it was quite cold and full of snow, so it was hard for us to actually explore the vineyards.
What I found interesting, was that most of the Icewine produced in the Niagara region, goes abroad – mostly it’s bought and sent to Asia. It’s especially popular in South Korea.
During our tour we visited 4 different wineries, each had very different styles and histories.
Our first was at Pillitteri Estates, a renowned Icewine producer with Sicilian roots. This winery was quite impressive, boasting many international awards. We could definitely tell that it has Italian origins, from the architecture of its cellar to the design of the shop – something about this winery felt familiar. We went home with a bottle of their sparkling rosé Icewine.
We then moved onto Konzelmann Estate Winery, a winery with obvious German heritage. A beautiful estate to visit when in Niagara-on-the-Lake, they make a great summery peach ‘wine’ – it’s definitely worth a try!
Our next stop was again of German origins, the Between the Lines Winery is a small family production with big creative ideas. Experimentation and innovation were apparent all over this winery. From adding Tabasco sauce to Icewine, to putting sparkling wines in cans, this winery has serious potential. Unfortunately, since they are a small, local producer, you can only purchase their wines directly from them.
Our last stop was at Caroline Cellars, a lodge style restaurant and vineyard. The Farmhouse café vibe of this winery, makes it low-key and relatable. A simple and enjoyable vineyard that produces an array of different wines from various grapes. They had a few different Icewines to choose from – it was hard to decide which ones to try.
We also explored Niagara-on-the-Lake, which was beautiful around Christmas time.
What to pair Icewine with:
Icewine is great as an aperitif style wine paired with strong cheeses or spicy flavours. Of course, in the end, you can pair it with whatever you want!