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Wine – Gourmet Ontario Promoting gourmet food, baking, organic, local food, VQA wine, craft beer, fresh farm, wild game, festivals Fri, 21 Feb 2014 21:04:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Detour Wines Sun, 02 Feb 2014 20:44:23 +0000

Whether you are simply searching for a descent wine to pair with dinner, or you fancy yourself as having a discriminating wine appreciation pallet, the question of what wine to buy can be daunting. For some people, confusion over choosing the best single varietal wine often leads to frustration.

This is where 13th Street Winery has set out to challenge that thinking with their most recent release called Detour Wines. With the Detour portfolio, the winemaker carefully selected a blend of two varietals: Gamay Noir and Pinot Noir for Detour Red, and Riesling and Chardonnay for Detour White.

13th Street Detour Wines White

13th Street Detour Wines White

Detour White 2012 Highlights

  • 58% Riesling
  • 42% Chardonnay
  • 100% hand harvested, fermented in stainless steel, small amount of Chardonnay rested in French oak for 8 months

13th Street Detour Wines Red

13th Street Detour Wines Red

Detour Red 2012 Highlights

  • 60% Gamay Noir
  • 40% Pinot Noir
  • Mostly tank fermented and aged. Small percentage fermented in larger oak tonneaux and aged for one month in smaller French oak barrels to permit fermentation to take place.

The result of these blends and the winemaker’s process are two well-balanced wines with fruit flavour notes that are pleasing to both the nose and pallet contrasted against a smooth body resulting in a pleasant experience. Both Detour White and Red have an appropriate level of acidity that provides the crispness expected with a balanced finish.  What does this mean for you?  Detour Red and Detour White are wines that will appeal to your guests, whether pairing with a meal, or while enjoying over a good conversation.

13th Street Winery

13th Street Winery

Detour Wines can be found at the LCBO, or direct from the winery for $16.95 for a 750 ml bottle. Specific information about the wine can be found from the 13th Street Winery website.


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2014 Niagara Ice Wine Festival Mon, 06 Jan 2014 20:41:00 +0000

Niagara Icewine Festival 2014

Bundle up and get out to enjoy the 19th annual Niagara Icewine Festival! With three weekends of events and tastings including the Xerox Icewine Gala, outdoor Icewine celebrations in Twenty Valley and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Wine and Cheese Seminars and the ever-popular Discovery Pass program and more! Join us this January as the Niagara Region celebrates winter like nowhere else in North America!

Attend the Icewine Gala on Friday January 10th from 8:00 until 11:00 pm. Enjoy a beautiful evening of Niagara cuisine, live entertainment and Niagara’s internationally acclaimed VQA Icewine and table wines. Tickets for this event can be purchased here.

Enjoy three weekends (January 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19, 24, 25 & 26) of Icewine tastings and events. A list of the participating wineries and the food wine pairing they offer can be found on the Program of Events here. Each winery offers a tasting for around $10 each. If you plan on visiting more than few wineries, we would recommend to purchase a Discovery Pass, where for $40 you can sample 8 food/wine pairings at participating wineries.  Also, some wineries are offering activities like skating and winery tours, and other food & wine pairings that not part of the Discovery Pass tasting.  Also, the “Driver’s Discovery Pass” is available for designated drivers where you can enjoy a mocktail and food pairing. Both the types of Discovery Passes can be purchased here.

Twenty Valley’s Winter WineFest will be held Saturday 11am-10pm and Sunday 12pm-7pm at 3836 Main Street in Jordan Village. Tokens are available for purchase at $3.25 tax included. Come and meet Food Network’s Chef Danny Smiles and Chef Chuck Hughes perform daily cooking demos. Free live music will be performed by Hollerado and Treble Charger. Stay into the evening and enjoy the Steam Whistle After Party which is being held in the barrel cellar of the Historic Cave Spring Cellars and features live music, appetizers and beer from Steam Whistle and wine from Cave Spring Cellars. Attend the Icewine Brunch in the Windows Room of On the Twenty Restaurant on Sunday morning and enjoy a three course brunch featuring an Icewine inspired menu created by host and chef, Chuck Hughes. Limited tickets are available.

Join the wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake for their Icewine Events. Sparkle and Ice is being held on January 17th from 8:00 until 11:00 pm in Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Courthouse. Tickets are available $95 per person and available for purchase at or call 905.468.1950. The Icewine Village will be set up on Queen Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake on January 18th from 11 to 5 and on January 19th from 12 until 5. Stay into the evening of the 18th to experience the Flash & Panache Icewine Cocktail Competition.

Want to know more about Icewines? Attend a tasting with Icewine winemakers. These tastings are being held at various wineries shown below. To book a ticket, call the hosting winery, cost is $25.


Saturday, January 11th, 2 pm at Reif Estate Winery 905.468.9463
Saturday, January 18th, 11 am at Trius Winery at Hillebrand 1.800.582.8412Saturday, January 18th, 2 pm at Stratus Vineyards 905.468.1806
Saturday, January 25th, 11 am at Niagara College Teaching Winery 905.641.2252
Saturday, January 25th, 2 pm at Peller Estates Winery 1.888.673.5537

We hope that you enjoy this years Icewine Festival. Follow Gourmet Ontario on Twitter at @NiagaraVQA, or our corresponding bloggers @GourmetDonna @ScottBMOFS for our comments and updates, and join us on Facebook to share photos and stories of the festival.


***As of this afternoon, this announcement came from Niagara Wine Festivals.***



Due to unforeseen circumstances, the opening of the Mike Weir Winery visitors centre has been delayed and will not be open to the public during the 2014 Niagara Icewine Festival. We apologize for any disruption this may cause to your Discovery Pass route plans and look forward to welcoming you to the winery later this year!

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Niagara Wine Festival Fri, 20 Sep 2013 12:30:19 +0000

NiagaraWineFestEventThis is one of our favourite Niagara area wine events, very near and dear to our hearts. We make sure to attend every year and this year is no exception. If you are looking for something to do this weekend, consider this event. This is a fantastic event for a date or girl’s day out.

Here you will find all of the participating wineries and their pairings. You can purchase the Niagara Wine Festival Discovery Pass for $40 at any of the wineries or The All Access Lounge Experience for $50 here.
We hope to see you there.

Join the Niagara Grape & Wine Festival for its 62nd Annual Niagara Wine Festival taking place September 14th through 29th, 2013.

The Festival wine route programming will launch a week earlier as we invite cycling enthusiasts from across North America to take part in the GranFondo Niagara September 13-15th. Whether you are part of the GranFondo Niagara or simply want to enjoy the Niagara Wine Route for three weekends during harvest, the Niagara Wine Festival Discovery Pass is your ticket to eight incredible wine and culinary experiences at participating wineries.

On weekend two and three the harvest celebration continues in Downtown St. Catharines where historic Montebello Park presents six days of incredible live entertainment, culinary and wine seminars, parades and VQA wines and favourite local restaurants. Starting with the annual RBC Business Awards and Opening Night ceremonies; including a New Award for the Winery with Heart, recognizing a Niagara winery’s philanthropic efforts. The awards will be followed by the kick off concert with favourite 80’s retro bands The Spoons and Blue Peter.

Get Fresh Greenlane

For two weekends, the WestJet Centre Stage along with Sun Media and Astral Radio, will host a roster full of incredible Canadian talent. From beginning to end popular local bands and Tribute bands take the stage including: The Caverners, Elton Rohn, Desire U2 Tribute and Hotel California. And on Parade Day weekend, breakout band Crystalyne will get the party started and Tragically Hip Tribute band; The Wheat Kings will close things off on Sunday.
In historic Montebello Park, the Fallsview Casino Resort hosts The Wine and Culinary Food Experience presenting over 100 VQA wines available for tasting along with local culinary favourites. And due to popular demand, a showcase of premium wines will be featured by

the glass from your favourite wineries as well as in the All Access Lounge.

Get Fresh 13th

On Saturdays; “Educate Your Senses” Culinary and Wine Seminars presented by the Canadian Food and Wine Institute and CCOVI at Brock University and hosted by Best Selling author and wine industry personality, Dr. Linda Bramble, will engage local chefs and winemakers, as well as the Dairy Farmers of Canada, in lively demonstrations, discussions and tastings.
And New to Sunday programming will be the East Vs West; Winemakers Showdown luncheon; where graduate winemakers from both CCOVI and the Niagara College Teaching Winery will team up with Canadian Food and Wine Institute Chefs and Dairy Farmers of Canada to compete for the best wine and foods pairing during this four course culinary showcase. Canadian TV and Radio personality, Terry David Mulligan will moderate the first Sunday’s showdown.
And the CIBC Grande Parade takes place on Saturday September 28th and will present “Honouring Our Heroes, Then and Now”.

As we continue to commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 and bridge history with the present day heroes. This toast to the past and our Bi-nationalism will include marching bands, dance troops, floats and amazing performers. Don’t forget your non perishable food items for the annual Community Care Food Drive.

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Niagara Icewine Festival 2013 Tue, 01 Jan 2013 13:00:08 +0000

Niagara Icewine Festival 2013 The Niagara Icewine Festival 2013 runs for the entire month of January, and there are events at local wineries, restaurants and venues throughout the Niagara region during the festival.

The Icewine Gala: The Ice Queen Ball is on January 11th at the Fallsview Casino featuring wines from over 30 of Niagara’s wineries, along with chef prepared Niagara cuisine, and outstanding entertainment.

On the last three weekends of the month (January 12-13, 19-20, 26-27), participating wineries in the Niagara Region are offering a food and wine pairing (usually costing $5-$10 per pairing).  A list of the participating wineries and the food wine pairing they offer can be found here.  If you plan on visiting more than few wineries, then the Discovery Pass is available for purchase, where for $40 you can sample 8 food/wine pairings at participating wineries.  Also, some wineries are offering activities like skating and winery tours, and other food & wine pairings that not part of the Discovery Pass tasting.  This year, the “Driver’s Discovery Pass” is available for designated drivers where you can enjoy a mocktail and food pairing.

The 20 Valley Winter Winefest 2013 is on January 12th and 13th in Jordan Village, showcases over 80 wines from the 20 Valley wineries of Vineland, Jordan, Beamsville and Grimsby.  There will also be celebrity chef demonstrations.  Click here for a complete listing of the Winter Winefest Schedule.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Village 2013 is on January 19th and 20th downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake, which showcases the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Click here for a complete listing of the Niagara Icewine Village events.

Other Niagara Icewine Festival events include:

  • All You Need is Cheese – Niagara wine and artisanal cheese seminars presented by the Dairy Farmers of Canada in cooperation with local wineries.
  • Get Schooled in Cool: A Tasting with Canada’s Icewine Insiders
  • Icewine Cocktail Competition
  • Shop, Sip, Sample & Savour: Niagara-on-the-Lake Insider’s Tasting Pass
  • Frostbitten? (at Niagara College Teaching Winery)
  • Fire & Ice Dinner (at Good Earth Food and Wine Co)

For a wonderful winter escape, plan on attending this year’s icewine festival. For more information please visit  Browse the festival guide  for information on the Discovery Pass food/wine pairings that each winery offers at their location.  You can also follow Gourmet Ontario on Twitter at @NiagaraVQA, or our corresponding bloggers @GourmetDonna & @ScottBMOFS for our comments and updates, and join us on Facebook to share photos and stories of the festival.

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Wine & Art Weekend at Kacaba Vineyards Wed, 12 Sep 2012 01:11:44 +0000

Wine & Art Weekend – Fundraiser for Niagara Children Centre

Location: Winery Event

Date: Sept. 22nd & 23rd, 2012

Time: 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Each year, Kacaba Vineyards Winery hosts its annual Local Art & Wine Show. This year’s tasting bar tasting proceeds and collected donations will be are given to the Niagara Children’s Centre located in St. Catharines. Kacaba and the local artists of Niagara will band together and raise proceeds to help Niagara’s children and families in need.

Join us for a good cause at our sixth annual  Wine & Art at Kacaba Vineyards; we’ll transform the winery grounds into an outdoor art gallery, Stroll the grounds with a glass of wine and marvel at the talents of our local artist.

Featured Artists -TBA

Niagara Children’s Centre, is recognized throughout the Niagara Region as the provider of rehabilitation services to children and teens with physical and communication disabilities and special needs. NCC’s staff is highly trained and with the help of hundreds of volunteers provide rehabilitation therapies and other support services to over 3000 children and teens and their families.

Help US Help The Children

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Food Truck Eats at Peller Estates Winery Wed, 30 May 2012 20:41:39 +0000

On May 20th we attended the Food Truck Eats event at Peller Estates Winery. All 3,000 tickets were sold out for Sunday’s festivities. We ended up parking nearby and walking to Peller Estates to avoid the traffic. It was a beautiful day and from our Twitter feed we could tell that there was quite a wait to get in, so our late arrival was planned very well. We didn’t wait at all when we arrived at 2:00.

The tickets for the event cost $15 and included admission to the event, a glass of Peller Estates wine and souvenir Govino glass. There were 16 food trucks in attendance, including Beaver Tails Toronto, Portobello Burger, Caplansky’s, and Gorilla Cheese, who in fact part of the reason we wanted to attend this event. We had tried a sandwich from Gorilla Cheese back in September at a wine event and loved it.

Prior to attending this event we tried to track down any menu that we could find so we could plot out a plan of action. With so many different trucks, all serving different food, and only a few hours to sample everything, how does someone choose what to eat?! The answer is this, go with another person (or 2 or 3) and split the food. This way you get to sample many different foods and minimize your wait in lines.

When we arrived, we went immediately for our first glass of wine before heading to the food trucks. We started off with the sweeter white wines, knowing that we wanted to first visit Buster’s Sea Cove for a Lobster Roll.  The only other definitive plan was that I wasn’t leaving without trying Cupcake Diner to feed my cupcake addiction. After collecting our wine at the very efficient outdoor and well shaded bar, we got into the incredibly long line to wait for our first bite of Food Truck Eats. There was a suggestion to wait in line with a glass of wine to enjoy, but we found that the lines were more like a two or three glass wait, but with 3,000 tickets sold, this wasn’t a big surprise. At each truck there was a sign of a recommended Peller Estates wine to enjoy with the food.  This was a nice touch that we obliged.  We talked to someone in line who had a nice idea of having a small serving table at each truck to offer their wine suggestions.  We stood in long lines again several times for Barbeque at Hank Daddy’s BBQ for cowboy fries and pulled pork parfait, for The Hunter schnitzel sandwich and a fried Risotto ball  at Dobro Jesti, and of course for cupcakes at Cupcake Diner (not just one either – I got a 6 pack!).

For us, the best part of this event was meeting some great people while waiting in line. We had an absolute blast chatting with people around, talking about what has been consumed and what’s next on the list.  There were two couples we ran in to several times throughout the afternoon and we always stopped to chat with them. Also, there was one man I ran into in line at Hank Daddy’s told me he heard to try the BBQ Pulled Pork Parfait, which is a layer of pulled pork in BBQ sauce mashed potatoes, more pulled pork, more mashed potatoes and topped with BBQ sauce.. We were in line to try the cowboy sweet potato fries, but added the parfait to the list and I am so glad that we did! It was by far our favourite food of the day.

If you get a chance to attend a food truck event, don’t miss out! You will meet some good people and enjoy some wonderful food.  Support the gourmet food trucks!

If you would like to keep informed of where the food trucks are in Ontario, and any food truck events, click here to follow our Ontario Food Trucks Twitter List.

Update: some of our readers have asked us for a list of all the Food Truck vendors at the event. Here they are, along with their Twitter links:


Food Truck Eats Photo Gallery

  • Peller Wine Bar
  • Buster's Truck and Menu
  • Ordering our Lobster Roll at Buster's
  • Buster's Lobster Roll
  • Buster's Sea Cove
  • Great people we met
  • Hank Daddy's Barbecue
  • Hank Daddy's Cowboy Fries
  • Hank Daddy's Pulled Pork Parfait
  • Waiting for cupcakes!
  • Chatting about the great food
  • The Tide and Vine prepping oysters
  • Roaming Buffalo
  • Dobro Jesti
  • The Hunter and Risotto Ball
  • The entertainment
  • BeaverTails
  • The Grindhouse Coffee
  • Waiting in line for Buster's
  • The truck line up
  • Peller Estates Winery



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Weekend at Twenty Valley’s “Get Fresh in the Valley” Tue, 29 May 2012 19:15:36 +0000

Most of the first weekend of May was spent touring the Twenty Valley bench wineries for the “Get Fresh in the Valley” event. We visited many of our favorite wineries and got a chance to try out some new ones. In all, we had a couple of days filled with wine and food pairings, some well paired and a few others not as much. I will tell you about some of our favorite pairings, as well as some of our new discoveries.

First off, we have been to many different weekend wine and food events in Ontario over the past few years. After leaving such events, we often wish we could make some of the food offered in the pairings. For this Get Fresh event, the passport holders were given a metal binder ring, and a front and back 6 x 9 cardstock print for the event. At each winery visited, they provided you with a recipe card for the food so you can re-create it at home. Each card was pre-punched with a hole so they could be easily attached to the binder ring.  Not only was a fantastic souvenir for the event, but we are now able to impress people at home by making some of the wonderful food and pair it with the suggested wines.

The day started off at one of our favourite wineries, Kacaba Vineyards. We have been here several times and really enjoy their wines, the scenery and the wonderful and knowledgeable staff who make it a joy to visit. We discovered Kacaba during the Icewine Festival 2012 and have made a few trips back since. This time they were pairing their 2011 Reserve Riesling and 2011 Reserve Rose with a Cashew Pate with Fresh Fruit Preserve on Filo Square, which was excellent.

Two of the other wineries that we also enjoy visiting are Creekside Estate Winery and Greenlane Estate Winery. Creekside paired their 2011 Sauvignon Blanc with East coast Mussels tossed in local “Herbes de Provence”. This was an excellent pairing which we savoured at a small bistro table on their deck, lingering over this pairing, enjoying the scenery. At Greenlane we were able to sample their 2010 Estate Riesling with a Thai Vegetable Spring Roll, which was delicious. The crispness of the vegetables paired very well with their Riesling in both texture and flavour. It was such a good pairing that we forgot to ask for our recipe card so we had to drive back to get it.

We also liked the pairings at Calamus Estate Winery, Flat Rock Cellars, and Rosewood Estates Winery. The Calamus tasting area is a renovated thick stone walled 19th century barn that had a cozy and rustic atmosphere that added to the wine tasting experience. They poured us a sample of their 2010 Calamus White to go with an excellent Spinach and Artichoke dip with Wonton Cups. This was a fantastic pairing with a great crisp wine. Flat Rock Cellars immediately impressed us with its stunning scenery overlooking vineyards with Lake Ontario as the backdrop. We enjoyed our pairing outside at a picnic table, savouring their 2010 Pinot Noir Rose and Goat Cheese and Grilled Vegetable Pizza cooked in a wood-fired clay oven. We could have stayed there all day but had other wineries to try. Rosewood Estates Winery had a great pairing with their 2009 Sussreserve Riesling and a Honey, Caramelized Onion and Bacon Tarte. It was a delicious tarte paired excellently with a crisp wine. Rosewood also has an on-site apiary where they collect honey for making mead and other honey & beeswax products. The kids had fun looking at all the bee homes, from a safe distance.

We were pleased to discover two new favourite wineries to add to our ever-growing list of wineries to visit: Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery and Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery. When we arrived at Sue-Ann Staff, there was a large bell being rung as a group tour bus left.  Immediately upon exiting our car, we were greeted and welcomed inside their 19th century farm house.  Once inside the building, we were were impressed with the contrast of old farmhouse with modern designed kitchen and sampling area; impressive considering the humble exterior. The kitchen is a very modern renovation, adjacent to the grand and bold decor of the dining area. One person was explaining the history of the house, the winery, the winemaker, and the pairing we were about to enjoy, while someone else expertly assembled the food. They offered their 2009 Baco Noir with a Canadian Cured Beef Tenderloin, which was absolutely divine. The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable about their wines. They also had a nice area for kids to draw so that parents can sample a wine or two. We look forward to going back to Sue-Ann Staff and sampling more of their wines. At Peninsula Ridge, we were very impressed with their pairing of a 2011 Top Bench Rose with a Parsnip and Empire Apple Soup. Personally, I will admit I was quite skeptical about this soup, as I am not a fan of parsnips. This ended up being my favourite food that I tried at Get Fresh! The flavour of the apple paired so well with the Rose – so well that I wanted more. I am looking forward to trying this recipe at home. Peninsula Ridge also has an beautiful facility.

The last three wineries that we enjoyed were at 13th Street Winery, Thirty Bench Wine Makers, and Vineland Estates Winery. 13th Street Winery was fantastic. We thoroughly enjoyed their facility, especially the large dining table, a single slab vertically sliced from a tree. It was stunning. We enjoyed their 2011 Pink Palette with a Spring Tart. The woman, who served us was a fellow American, told me about butter tarts available in their bakery. What are butter tarts? She describes them as something I would thoroughly enjoy, and since I have never had one, we happily headed to the bakery. A quick stroll through the quaint barn, lead us to the counter where we ordered a butter tart. I was in heaven. (More to follow about butter tarts in another post.) Thirty Bench Wine Makers had a fantastic pairing with their 2011 Riesling with Asian-inspired Poached Shrimp with Michael’s Killer Sriracha Sauce. One of the final (and not certainly the least) wineries that we enjoyed this weekend was Vineland Estates. The facility itself is photo worthy – in fact, there was a wedding party having photos taken as we pulled up. They had a very well paired 2010 Chardonnay Musque with a Roasted Pork belly, spring rhubarb chutney, dried fruit on a sour dough crostini.

In summary, we had a fantastic weekend enjoying the food and wine pairings at the Get Fresh in the Valley event, and cannot wait to go back and sample some of the other recommended wines on the tasting menus that we didn’t a chance to try. Now we’re also looking forward to the next Twenty Valley wine event.

Did you attend Get Fresh in the Valley? What wine and food pairing did you enjoy most?

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Twenty Valley’s “Get Fresh!” Fri, 04 May 2012 13:35:35 +0000
Twenty Valley Get Fresh 2012

Twenty Valley Get Fresh 2012

If you are looking to enjoy the nice weather this weekend and some fantastic wine and food pairings, drive over to TwentyValley’s “Get Fresh in the Valley”. Sample some of the TwentyValley’s 24 wineries wines paired with amazing food, such as Angels Gate’s 2010 Rosé VQA paired with a Thai Fried Rice with Roasted Pork, Tawse’s 2010 Sketches of Niagara Riesling with a Niagara Spring Slaw on Toasted Crostini or Kacaba’s 2011 Reserve Riesling 2011 Rebecca Rosé paired with a Cashew Paté with Fresh Fruit Preserve served on a Filo Square, just to name a few.

Their spring passport is offered for $35 plus HST. These passports are good for the entire weekend. While enjoying these wonderful pairings, don’t forget to collect the recipe card from each of the wineries to complete your very own “Get Fresh Spring Cookbook”. Also you can take your “Get Fresh” passport to “The Watering Can Flower Market” and create your own fresh cut flower arrangement for FREE! Wine, food and flowers?! Wow!

Click here for more information on this event. Call 905.562.3636 to order your tickets now because quanitities are very limited. To purchase passports on Saturday May 5 please go to either Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery in St. Catharines or Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery in Beamsville.

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Wine and Herb 2012 Wed, 02 May 2012 18:34:56 +0000

Spring is here! The birds are chirping and plants are growing, which means it is time for the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake to host their annual spring wine event “Wine and Herb”. Spend any weekend in May visiting the wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake and tasting some of their wonderful wine and herb-themed food pairings. This event is open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for the month of May from 11am to 5pm.

The “Wine and Herb” touring passes can be purchased for $43 per person, plus tax. You can purchase them online, or by calling Tourism Niagara-on-the-Lake. Also designated drivers can purchase a touring pass, offering them the food pairings with a non-alcoholic beverage for $30.

Visit Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake Website to view more information including a list of the participating wineries and their pairings.

Cheers to spring!

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An American in Ontario Wed, 18 Apr 2012 15:13:10 +0000

I am an American, born and raised in small town Pennsylvania. I traded in life in a small northern town for the big city of Atlanta, Georgia for college. I learned about grits, and greens and how to make a good sweet tea, learned how to say ya’ll and sing country music. I thought that would be the extent of my cultural adventures. Last year I decided to take a trip to Ontario to visit with some friends. I had never been to Canada before, but had heard that it was beautiful. Other than that, I knew very little about Canada. Now after several return visits over the past few months, I would like to tell you about my adventures in Ontario – things I have learned and differences I’ve noticed.

One thing I knew about Canadians is their love of the word “eh”. I had heard of this long before I ever visited, and have heard it often in my travels in Ontario. My parents had come home from their fishing trips in Canada saying it, and I knew I was bound to say it too. I was told it sounds better than my “huh” that I use, (and I sheepishly admit, they have a point.) The words “out” and “about” sound different to Americans when spoken by a Canadian, and words have different spellings in Canada with words like “colour” and “favourite”.

Since my first visit to Ontario last September, I made several trips back. I have been able to try many of the wineries in the Niagara region, trying new red and white wines, as well as my very first Icewine. During WineFest in September, I was able to experience these wines with amazing food pairings including my very first Poutine – which are french fries with cheese curds, gravy and oftern other delicious toppings. I loved it. In fact I loved it so much, I made some one night at home.

I have to say the grocery shopping experience in Canada is different than in the States as well. First of all, Canadians have different products on their shelves than we do. I was preparing to cook a meal from my friends and found that some of the items I wanted to purchase were not here. Some of my favorite cereals aren’t here, although I do have a new Canadian favorite cereal, Shreddies. I received a box as a Christmas gift this year.  The next new product that I was introduced to were bags of milk. I have never heard of a bag of milk, nor have I yet mastered the art of pouring from a bag. Just recently, I flooded my cereal with milk from a bag that was not properly put into the pitcher. At least I am learning, right?!

I have also learned about how green Canadians are. They recycle and compost so much more than I have ever done in the States, regardless of which small town or metropolitan area I was living in. If I go shopping at the local grocery store here, you need to bring your own cloth bags or pay for plastic. Since groceries are a bit more expensive and I pay additional fees to use my credit card up here, I have learned very quickly to take cloth bags with me.

This past January I attended the icewine festival in downtown Jordan as well as Niagara-on-the-Lake. I fell in love with Niagara-on-the-Lake! It has such a small town feel, similar to where I grew up. I loved the architecture and look forward to return visits in warmer weather. I have plans to attend the Wine and Heb Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake in May. I cannot wait!

My daughters experiences their first trip to Canada this year during their break from school. We visited Niagara Falls and had a blast. We were amazed at the power of the water. It moved with such force, yet was amazingly peaceful. I look forward to sharing it with my parents and friends when they visit Canada.

I now have “eh” as a part of my every day vocabulary. At first it was to not stick out, now it is just because it comes naturally. I have enjoyed all that I have experienced so far in Canada and am looking forward to all of my future adventures… after all, it is now spring.

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