Niagara New Vintage Festival 2013


The view while tasting at Good Earth
This was the first year that Shawn and I made it out to Niagara for the New Vintage Festival – and just under the wire too, as it was the last day for this start-of-summer event. The Niagara New Vintage Festival takes place over two weekends when each winery offers an interesting wine and food pairing for passport holders.

As with other Niagara Wine Festivals, Shawn got a designated driver pass so that he could enjoy all of the food samples without the wine. I can’t stress enough how much we like having this option and hope that other wine events choose to provide it. He was able to have a fun day and try some great food while I did the full pairings and there was no stress about the driver not participating in the day.

We started at Good Earth Food & Wine, which is one of our favourite places in the Twenty Valley. It was a gorgeous summer day and we loved that we got to sit out on their beautiful patio and enjoy their trio wine and food items. This was one of the best stops, as they had obviously put tons of thought into their pairing and each bite-sized item was matched perfectly with the wine. I particularly liked their 2012 Betty’s Blend, which was perfect with the avocado, leek and asparagus soup.

Next up was Tawse Winery, which always has great wine. They paired each sample with cheese from Upper Canada Cheese – one of the best cheese stores I’ve ever visited. Always nice to have two of my favourite things together, but I was a little surprised that they hadn’t done something more unique. Compared to some of the other stops this pairing was a bit unexciting, but still – amazing wine with some of our favourite cheeses? Can’t really complain.

My favourite pairing of the day came early on when we visited Megalomanic Winery. This was my first visit and it certainly won’t be my last. What an incredible view of the Twenty Valley from this winery and the pairing was simply divine. They had their new Bubblehead pink sparkling (so new it didn’t even have a label yet), which I really enjoyed, as well as their 2012 Pink Slip Pinot Noir Rosé paired with an incredible white chocolate and strawberry salsa tart. Shawn and I are still talking about that tart. And we liked the Pink Slip so much we brought some home. We’ll likely be back for the Bubblehead too.

We got lost on our way to Flat Rock Cellars and ended up at Calamus,where we enjoyed some quiche and Pinot Gris and Calvin’s Cabernet – all very yummy. This is a great little winery and they were kind enough to give us a bit of a mini-tour of the space. I’d love the chance to go back again when we had more time to really experience their wines.

Flat Rock was well worth finding when we finally arrived. I’ve already said their Riesling is one of my picks for the summer and Shawn enjoyed the pork appetizer they were serving, so this was a great stop. I had no idea what a truly gorgeous space they had and I loved the chance to just walk around and enjoy the view.

I hadn’t experienced Sue-Ann Staff Wines before, but it was just across the street so we stopped in. It didn’t disappoint. Chicken and waffles with her 2011 Pinot Gris was a hit and then I paid the extra to sample her sparkling with a delightful little meringue.

We had planned to get to Creekside Estate Winery in time for lunch, but were running far too late. Instead, I sampled their 2012 Cabernet Rosé with a salmon bite. The Rosé is well worth picking up, as is their new Backyard Sauvignon Blanc, which I’d tried at the recent Sip and Savour Ontario event. I also picked up one of their new Roots shirts, which are super fun and fashionable.

We hit The Yellow Pear food truck for an excellent late lunch and then did a quick visit to Featherstone Winery where I had their 2012 Rosé with a grilled strawberry shortcake. This was a great, relaxed stop where we could sit on their lovely front patio and unwind. Much-needed after a hectic day of going from winery to winery.

Last on our list was Stoney Ridge Estate Winery, which had one of the most substantial pairings of the day with a fantastic turkey slider and their 2010 Warren Classic Pinot Noir. You only get very small samples of the wines at each winery and I had eaten before we started, but it was nice when wineries provided something of a good size to eat to ward off any tipsiness.

We managed to cram a whole lot into one day, but if we do this festival again next year (and I hope we do), I’d love to spend a weekend in Niagara so we could split our visits up over two days. It was really hot and we were both pretty exhausted by the time we rolled back into the city, but we had a great day and discovered some fantastic new wines.

For more information on the New Vintage Festival and other Niagara Wine Festivals visit http://www.niagarawinefestival.com/ 

Read @cono_sur's review of the festival: http://vintagewinepicks.blogspot.ca/2013/06/2013-niagara-new-vintage-festival-review.html

More photos from our day: 

The tasting room at Megalomaniac

The view from Megalomaniac
The view from Flat Rock's balcony

The pairing at Calamus

Megalomaniac Pink Slip

The pairing at Good Earth - non veggie version

Featherstone Rosé