I have to start off by saying that The Wineries of Niagara on the Lake host the best festivals in the Niagara area: Taste the Season in November and the Wine and Herb Festival in May. They are well organized, have great themes and allow patrons to set their own pace, plus they have impressed upon their members a uniformity of quality at each winery; not just talking about the wines here now, this is more in respect to the food pairing.
Each year there is a subtle tweak that improves the event. This year’s tweak was a big jump in innovation – though a very simple idea. Three weeks prior to the event they had a winery get together, where the food and wine pairings were on display for the other wineries to get a taste of. This seemingly little thing paid off big dividends with lots of cross-promotion between the wineries, it was like nothing I have ever seen before in the area. Inniskillin told me to try Sunnybrook; Cattail pointed me in the direction of the other wineries doing goat cheese pairings (Hillebrand and Reif); Reif told me about Lailey’s Sausage combination – and so on and so on.
At the beginning of the day we set our sights on 8 wineries, based on the herbs we liked. By the time the dust on the day had settled we had hit 14 wineries with very few disappointments along the way. Now, this festival is designed for all month enjoyment – your passport is good for each weekend in May – but we did not have another free weekend day to come back so we had to fit this all in on the one day … I remind you, do not try this at home, I am a professional.
The “we”, this time round, are Erica (a Riesling fanatic and foodie) and myself. At the end of our 14-winery assault we each picked our favourites, put them in order and discussed the outcome. Amazingly our final decisions paralleled each other, in most cases:
Best Wine … (Read more)
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