Get Up Close and Personal With Niagara’s Famous Icewine With These 3 Tasting Opportunities

July 9, 2015 10:00 am

image001Icewine in Niagara is as prized and lauded as the Falls for which the region is named, and it’s no wonder: It was icewine that first drew the attention of the international wine community to the reality that the Niagara Peninsula was making some exceptional strides in the fermented grape department. Painstakingly made from grapes that have been left to freeze naturally on the vine, the frozen grapes are picked by hand and immediately pressed to release their contents: a thick, golden liquid that is packed with naturally occurring sugars and complex acidity. An understandably small yield, the juice is then processed and fermented. The result? Delicious.

For many people visiting Niagara, it’s not the Falls but the wine country and the many events and festivals that occur there throughout the year that form the reasons to visit. If you’re an oenophile seeking a Niagara experience, and you’d love to learn more about the area’s signature elixir, here are a few ways you can get up close and personal with icewine.

The Ice House Winery

Completely devoted to what Canadians call, “liquid gold,” The Ice House Winery is the only winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake that dedicates all its efforts to producing icewine, and to date, they’ve won three International Monde Selection Grand Gold Medals. Drop in any day of the week from 11 a.m. to dusk, and sample five different icewines, including the Ice House N’Ice Slushie, three premium and award-winning icewines, and a N’Icewine cocktail, for just $15. The tasting also includes information about the winery, insights into the process of making the icewine, and appetizers.

The Inniskillin Icewine Tasting Bar

Inniskillin is the winery that started the Niagara Peninsula’s love affair with making exceptional wines. Started in 1974, when the winery applied for a winemaking license, it was the first one issued once Prohibition ended — that’s how little people were clamoring to make wine. In 1984, Inniskillin successfully produced their first icewine, and in 1991, their icewine won Grand Prix d’Honneur at the international wine and spirits expo, Vinexpo, officially putting Inniskillin and Niagara on the world’s winemaking map.

Today, Inniskillin still makes great icewine, and at their Tasting Bar, you can compare different varieties and vintages, while learning about the process and history of the winery. Flights of icewine are between $15 and $20 each.

Wayne Gretzky Estates Tasting Room

image003Yes, Wayne Gretzky has a winery located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and you can taste and purchase from among a handful of critically acclaimed icewines. Whether you prefer the deep, complex sweetness of a Cabernet Franc icewine — the 2010 is a double Gold Medal winner — or a fruity, floral Vidal icewine — the 2012 vintage is a Gold Medal winner — the Wayne Gretzky Estates winery has a selection sure to please any palette. The tasting room is open all year round, with slightly reduced hours in the evenings during the fall and winter months.

Experience icewine in a totally new way by tasting it in the “wild” at some of Niagara’s finest wineries where expert and knowledgeable staff can enlighten your mind as the icewine delights your palette.