Get Your Grape On: The Niagara Grape and Wine Festival
Any time of year, you can visit Niagara Falls to enjoy high-quality wines — but certain times of year are particularly good at showcasing what the Niagara wine region has to offer. In fact, every year during September is perhaps the best celebration of the area’s winemaking efforts: the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival. Every year in early fall, this Niagara wine festival brings together experts, aficionados, and enthusiasts to observe the work of Niagara’s vintners and engage wine-lovers everywhere with dozens of wine-focused events and activities. If you are eager for a Niagara trip — or you simply love wine to bursting — you can’t miss the annual Niagara Grape and Wine Festival.
Over the course of the three weekends of the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival, vineyards offer unique food and wine pairings for you to sample. However, in the Ontario region, there are easily more than 400 different wineries and vineyards. While it might be wonderful to see and taste 400 discrete vendors at one Niagara wine festival, it is a logistical nightmare — for festival organizers, winemakers, and festival goers alike. Thus, only a select few of the top winemakers in the region are invited to participate in the festival — which means you get a chance to sample Niagara’s absolute best fare.
Participating vineyards for 2017 include:
13th Street Winery. This Twenty Valley winery strives to make its vintages approachable. For the festival, 13th Street is offering a Gamay Noir paired with wild mushroom and local sausage pasta salad.
Chateau de Charmes. Among the first vineyards in Niagara to produce high-quality wines, the Chateau will offer shepherds pies of pork and cranberry paired with their gold medal–winning Cuvée d’Andrée Rosé.
Creekside Estate Winery. One of the most picturesque wineries in Twenty Valley, Creekside is keeping the food simple with smoked mini hotdogs and house-made condiments to highlight their Estate Syrah.
Inniskillin. This winery specializes in sweet wine, so it should be no surprise they are offering General Tso chicken with their Reserve Riesling.
Fielding Estate Winery. A smaller winery committed to sustainability and small batches, Fielding Estate will offer both their signature red and white blends paired with braised beef.
Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery. With wineries in Okanagan and Niagara, Jackson-Triggs is a Canadian wine mainstay. Influenced from their Western sister, this winery is offering Pacific snapper ceviche with a signature Riesling.
Peller Estates Winery. One of the biggest names in the valley, Peller Estates excels at all types of wine. For the festival, they are highlighting their Muscat with melon infused with basil sprouts.
Rockaway Winery. Offering wine, food, and golf, Rockaway is a vacation destination in itself. It hopes to “beet” the other wineries with a beet gnocchi and white blend pairing.
Trius Winery at Hillebrand. Perhaps the most recognizable of Niagara wineries, Trius will continue to be the people’s favorite with their famous burger bar and a delectable Cabernet Franc.
In addition to the vineyards’ delectable pairings, Niagara Falls and surrounding towns will host several community events to celebrate their bountiful soil and grape vines. Every year is different, but this September, attendees got to enjoy:
This year the Grape Growers of Ontario hosted a lunch celebration for their 70th anniversary and Canada’s 150th as a united commonwealth. At the luncheon, first and only Canadian ISS commander Colonel Chris Hadfield talked about the importance of growing the future while you and your lunch companions learn about science and nosh on delicious food and wine.
Pied Piper Parade
At St. Catharine’s, there was the Pied Piper Parade. People came dressed in their Canadian best — which might mean bedecking yourself in maple leaves, throwing on a Canadian tuxedo, or dressing up like your favorite Canadian figure. On a short parade route around town, participants celebrated Canada’s history and diversity. A Grapeland Family Activity Area kept kids occupied while adults enjoyed refreshments supplied by Real Canadian Superstore.
After the parade, little ones got to enjoy a free cooking lesson with PC Cooking School. Kitchen Kids is meant to engage children with the culinary arts, showing that cooking can be fun and rewarding. Maybe your kids will come home learning more than you about food and wine pairings.
Meridian Grande Parade
The last event held during the Niagara wine festival this year is the Meridian Grande Parade, which is much larger and louder than Pied Piper. Every year, Meridian Grande welcomes more than 100,000 spectators, who eagerly congregate to watch the procession of marching bands, majorettes, drum lines, community groups, floats, and performances stride by.