Ontario’s Niagara region has always been a summer destination for me. At least two times per year I visit the area to check out Niagara Falls and the nearby wineries in Niagara-On-The-Lake. This year I switched it up for a change and visited during the winter so I could attend the annual Niagara-On-The-Lake Icewine Festival!
Paul, my dad and I had an awesome time checking out the festival and our favourite local wineries, and below I’m sharing pics, stories and tips for anyone else visiting the Icewine Festival!
When To Go
The festival takes place every January and lasts about two weeks. This year it’s being held from January 15th – 31st, 2016.
What To Pack
It’s Canada, it’s cold, and you’re going to be outside…. Warm boots, a thick scarf, hat and gloves are a must! As long as you dress for the weather you’ll stay comfortable all day. I wore jeans and a sweater under my wool coat, along with leather boots. When my feet started to get cold later in the day I switched into Ugg boots.
Where To Stay
The Pillar & Post and Prince of Wales are two hotels located in the heart of Niagara-On-The-Lake. Both of these hotels are walking distance to the festival.
What To Do
The main event of the Icewine Festival is the “Icewine Village” located on Queen Street during the weekend. The street is filled with stalls sampling icewine from local wineries as well as the area’s best restaurants serving up unique dishes featuring icewine. We ate lamb sliders with an icewine and peach chutney as well as a tomato basil soup with an icewine infused creme fraiche.
The local wineries all participate in the festival as well, and for $40 you can buy a discovery pass that gives you access to exclusive tours and samples at 8 wineries.
Of course, if you don’t want to purchase a discovery pass you can still stop by any winery you like and pay for samples as you go. One winery worth visiting is Peller Estates Winery. They have a beautiful outdoor space overlooking the vineyards where you can roast icewine soaked marshmallows over fire pits!
Our Favourite Wineries
In the past 9 years I’ve done over 10 different wine tours in the Niagara Region – with most tours stopping at between 4-6 different wineries. Over the years I’ve created a list of my favourite, must-see wineries:
- Kacaba is home to my all-time favourite bottle of Niagara wine – their meritage red is incredible!
- Flat Rock Cellar has great wine, and you can enjoy your samples on an incredible balcony overlooking vineyards and Lake Ontario. This winery wines for prettiest view!
- Vineland Estate Winery is a beautiful spot with great staff and a lucrative membership club.
- Peller Estates Winery is one of the most famous wineries in the region, and another one worth visiting.
- Pondview Estate Winery has fantastic icewine and they also do a chocolate and wine pairing.
- Two Sisters Vineyards is a picturesque winery, and their wine is great too.
- Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery feels like you’re visiting a ranch. I love their wine and cheese pairing here.
- Reif Estate Winery has incredible red wines, and this is usually the winery where I spend the most amount of money.
Where To Eat
You could easily fill up on food at the Icewine Village, but if you’re looking to get out of the cold and sit down at a restaurant here are some of my recommendations:
- Zees Grill is amazing and their chef is very talented.
- Stagecoach is a great spot for breakfast.
- Jordan House is a bit further away, but they serve gourmet pub food like pulled pork, fish & chips and a deluxe mac n cheese!
- Kitchen 76 at Two Sisters Winery is a beautiful spot for a romantic dinner.
- Queenstown Heights Restaurant is a family-favourite with stunning views.
- The Garrison House, Bistro Six-One and Shaw Cafe & Wine Bar are three more restaurants worth mentioning.