While most people love any reason to celebrate, in Niagara, another year’s grape harvest is a reason that sits right at the top of the list. The Niagara Wine Festival takes place across two weekends every September throughout the Niagara Peninsula, and for wineries, winemakers, and wine lovers, it’s a celebration of the grape that’s easily one of the most anticipated events of the year. This year’s event starts the weekend of September 18, 19, and 20, and continues until the end of the following weekend, September 25, 26, and 27.
Almost every winery in the region participates, as new vintages are paired with new culinary creations for an experience that’s unlike any other. While the wine always takes center stage, here are some of the other highlights of this year’s festival that are guaranteed to make the event an unforgettable one.
“Educate Your Senses” Seminar Series
On two separate Saturdays, the 19 and the 26, at Montebello Park in downtown St. Catharines, the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), Dairy Farmers of Canada, and Brock University are offering wine and cheese seminars to educate and enlighten attendees about what to consider when pairing wines and cheeses. Led by experts in both industries, seminars take place both Saturdays at 2 p.m., 3 p.m., and 4 p.m.
The Harvest Lounge
Located in Montebello Parks’ pavilion, the Harvest Lounge is an ideal place to take in some of the festival’s best wine and food away from the hustle and bustle of the crowds. Top-tier VQA wines are available and paired with charcuterie, cheeses, specialty relishes, pickled vegetables, and homemade mustards. Open in the evenings across both festival weekends, a VIP pass to the Lounge is just $10. In addition to having access to the wine and food, the Lounge includes private seating beneath the sheltered pavilion, private restrooms, TV screens showcasing the Main Stage, and a commemorative glass.
The Mayors’ Invitational Grape Stomp
Watch the annual Grape Stomp on Saturday, September 19 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Walter Ostenak Pavilion Stage. Presented every year by the St. Catharines Jaycees, the Grape Stomp pits local and regional “dignitaries” and grape growers against one another in a lighthearted competition to see who can stomp the most grapes the fastest.
If you’re coming to the Niagara Falls region with your family in tow, be sure to sign your kids up for this festival event. Held on Saturday, September 20 at 12:30 p.m. in Montebello Park, this fun and interactive child-centered cooking experience will demonstrate the joy of cooking for the younger set. Admission is free, but, due to its popularity, space will probably be limited, so plan to come early.
The live music that takes place each festival weekend is always stellar, and this year is shaping up to be no exception. Bands play Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of both weekends, and some of the acts include:
- Theatre Crisp
- Laura Second Drumline and Choir
- Harlan Pepper
- Small Town Pistols
- Brad James
- And more!
If you love wine, plan your next Niagara vacation so that it coincides with the region’s grape harvest, and celebrate like a local at the Niagara Wine Festival.