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Views from the Ontario Vines

with Fred Couch


Niagara New Vintage Festival – Discovery Pass

The New Vintage Festival happens each year when wineries showcase their newest releases of wines. The main event of the festival is the Tailgate Party. Participants can walk amongst the vines sampling wines and culinary delights offered by some Niagara's best restaurants and food providers. The current Grape King, Wes Wiens, hosts this year's party.

Another feature of the festival is the Discovery Pass. For one price, the pass holder can enjoy eight wine and culinary experiences. The hard part is choosing eight wineries from the 38 participating wineries. We carefully looked over the brochure and chose five wineries in the Twenty Valley area and three in Niagara-on-the-Lake to visit. The following is a photo essay of our food and wine experiences:

Our first stop was at Malivoire Wine where the “Cheesy Guys” served up a delicious grilled cheese sandwich. This was paired with the 2012 Small Lot Gamay. Pass holders could also try the newly-released Cabernet Franc Icewine.

Our favourite pairing of the first day was at Kacaba Vineyards & Winery. Chef Darren Stoute was grilling up five-spiced pork medallions on a bed of arugula, navy bean, fennel mix topped with sweet tomato ginger drizzle. A generous pouring of the 2010 Reserve Syrah went well with the pork medallions. It was a beautiful day so we enjoyed our food and wine on the patio.

At Creekside Estate Winery, Chef Mark Hand prepared a muffuletta made with fresh Italian bread, house-smoked pork loin and spicy olive bomba. Two wines were offered to accompany the sandwich – a Cabernet Rosé and the Laura's White which is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gewürztraminer.

At Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery, we had our first sweet pairing. Sue-Ann's mother, Wendy, was busy preparing succulent French toast with Niagara peaches topped with fruit in an Icewine reduction. This was paired with the 2011 “Sparking and Sassy” – a sparkling Riesling.

We were treated with two very interesting pairings at Ridgepoint Wines. Chef Fortin was busy in the kitchen preparing two sliders. One was venison and the other was made with Portobello mushrooms. Two newly-released wines were offered to try with the sliders – the 2010 Pinot Noir and the 2010 Reserve Meritage. As expected, the Pinot Noir matched well with the Portobello mushrooms and the Meritage went best with the venison slider.

On our second day, we headed to Niagara-on-the-Lake. At Ravine Vineyard, they were serving a delicious wood oven Margherita pizza paired with a 2012 Cabernet Rosé. The pairing was served on the outside patio overlooking the vineyards.


The barbeque was fired up on the piazza at Colaneri Estate Winery. Skewered pieces of lamb were seared quickly over hot coals and served with the 2011 Merlot. It was a perfect day to sit under an umbrella on the piazza and sip wine but we had to move on!

Although we arrived in the afternoon at Riverview Cellars Estate Winery, for some reason, the food had not arrived. We were told to come back later and it was well worth the wait. We were presented with a delicious Montreal smoked beef sandwich on freshly baked focaccia. The 2012 Baco Noir enhanced the flavours of the smoked meat for a perfect match.


For information on other events presented by Niagara Wine Festival go to their website at .


Photos by © F.G. Couch

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