Why We Love Niagara's Icewine Festival

By Suresh Doss  |  December 19, 2013

The annual celebration of all things icewine returns to Niagara in January with two full weeks of food and drink programming.

The Icewine harvest season varies from year to year as  growers are dependent on Mother Nature; Niagara producers took to social media last week to announce an early start to grape picking and pressing this year, with temperatures dipping below minus 8˚ Celsius. Harvest signals the return of the Niagara Icewine Festival: an annual celebration in January that turns the region into a wintery wonderland of incredible wine and food experiences.

Here are the top five must-check-out events;

Jan 10 to 26;

  • The Big Opening: The festival kicks off with the signature event; the Icewine gala. 40 Niagara wineries will set up in the Fallsview Casino Resort alongside an armada of Niagara chefs and restaurants. The sip and savour event is one of the top attractions in Niagara and don't worry, producers often serve dry wines as well. Tickets are $185 plus HST; $175 plus HST before December 20.

    January 10, Fallsview casino resort, Niagara Falls

  • Outdoor Food Festival: If there's one good reason to brave the cold, it's the  Twenty Valley Winter Winefest. The outdoor street festival takes place in the tiny village of Jordan and is a day long celebration of food and drink. The event features many Niagara chefs and the region's best food trucks pairing dishes with a number of icewine products. At the last festival, local artisan spirit producer Dillon's made a splash with their line of vodka, rye and gin. Steam whistle will host an after party (Sat night) in the Cave Spring Cellars cavernous barrel cellar.

    January 11-12, Jordan Village

  • Tasting Room Tours: The Discovery Pass is a single $40 purchase ticket that gets wine lovers into some of the region's best tasting rooms, where they can try icewine, sparklers and still wines, and in some cases, try food pairings to match. To see the exact lineup of experiences, go here

    January 10-12, 17-19, 24-26, various locations

  • Lakeside Festival: Following up the winter winefest in Twenty Valley, festivities move to Niagara-on-the-Lake with a street festival that brings together local wineries and restaurants for an outdoor celebration. Expect the critically praised Treadwell Restaurant which recently moved into town, to get involved in the grand celebration.

    January 18-19

  • Even More Food: The Icewine festival is an excuse for Niagara wineries and restaurants to put together some incredible, creative one-time-only food events. Aside from the marquee Winter Winefest and the Icewine Gala, there are tons of other smaller events in the region. Although details are still surfacing, here are our favorites;

    • Jackson-Triggs Winery will host a number of events from a Sparkle and Ice (three sparkling wines with three sparkling inspired snacks) event to a winter market featuring a variety of food samplings.
    • Peller Estates will be hosting its annual marshmallows roasting event along with its signature Icewine-maker's dinner with a menu featuring dishes that have been infused and inspired by the sweet elixir. 
    • Ravine will be hosting its popular Sunday brunches during the festival. The boutique winery will also open a public ice rink (weather permitting) for post-meal skating. 
    • Thirty Bench Winery is hosting a snowshoeing event with a local snowshoe expert. A sample session with Thirty Bench wines and warm food courtesy of popular street food popup Tide & Vine Oyster Company follows.