I thought that Mother Nature was never going to let Spring out to play this year! Thankfully, by the time April and Get Fresh arrived the sun was mostly shining and I had retired my winter boots and jacket.
As much as I sincerely enjoyed the wine and food pairings during this Twenty Valley Tourism Association passport event, it was the continued signs of spring that kept a permanent smile on my face.
There were lots of commendable wines, delicious treats to pair them with and a few very mighty and fabulous pairings at this event.
Thank goodness that Get Fresh provides all passport holders with recipe cards for each of the food recipes paired with the wines because I wouldn’t have left Hernder without it. This was – by far – the most memorable pairing that I encountered over the course of the weekend and I left with a bottle of Caluroso in my trunk. A little closer to St. Catharines and away from the bench is where you’ll find Hernder – the most sought-after wedding winery in Niagara.
⚘ Get Fresh Pairing: Caluroso with Mushroom & Gorgonzola Soup
My absolute favourite was Hernder Estate’s Caluroso with Mushroom & Gorgonzola Soup and second was the 2011 Reserve Pinot Noir with Duck Confit Cassoulet and Pumpkin Seed Pesto from Peninsula Ridge. Yumm and Bravo to both of these two exquisite pairings! Honourable mention goes to Malivoire’s 2012 Lady Bug Rosé with Monk’s & Malivoire’s Marvelous Gelato.
Greenlane’s new digs on Hwy 8 are beautiful and much more intimate than the highway-side location they were operating out of last year. My mom is especially addicted to their very reasonably priced Riesling icewine and would pair it at every passport event if she could I’m sure. Their chicken slider and chard combination is one of their best that I’ve experienced since they opened and I’m looking forward to their continued success and growing popularity among bench wineries. A noticeable sign of spring was the outdoor topiary trees lining the stone walkway to the front door – beautiful!
⚘ Get Fresh Pairing: 2012 Unoaked Chardonnay with Gourmet Chicken Sliders with Mango Chutney
I will always like a winery with a cheese counter inside and a garden outside just waiting to burst into bloom. On my first visit I made sure to try their trademark Cranberry Wine and see why it graces the glasses of many people on many patios. This time around I also tried some mango ginger cheese (that was interesting) and caramelized onion cheese – which I ended up also buying and taking home, though it didn’t last long.
⚘ Get Fresh Pairing: 2010 Pinot Gris & Arancini with Mozzarella and Peas
Have you ever seen the stars through a deep space telescope with a glass of wine in hand? Me neither but if you wanted to, Calamus is where you would go. The winery is tucked away near the Balls Falls Conservation area and the tasting bar is in an old 19th century barn with lots of charm. After our pairing we stayed a while and I left Calamus with an Unoaked Chardonnay that surprised me in a very good way!
⚘ Get Fresh Pairing: 2013 Pinot Gris with Pasta Pescatore
Nevermind the view of the vineyards, off of the Flat Rock balcony you can see Lake Ontario and – on a clear day – Toronto and the CN Tower. In addition to their wines, I especially like Flat Rock because of the way their vines look in the summer with the green plantings between vines to keep pests away. It’s innovative and a natural way to keep unwanted creatures away from those juicy leaves and grapes.
⚘ Get Fresh Pairing: 2010 Rogue Concoction with Greek Souvlaki Chicken Pie with Lemon & Herb Crumble
I have no idea how Sue Ann has the time to run her own winery and also be the wine-maker for Megalomaniac – there’s no doubt in my mind that she is an incredibly busy woman! Maybe she cuddles with her friendly Bernese Mountain Dog – Bricks – who is always at the front door of the winery to greet visitors as they come and wag his tail goodbye on your way out. He seems like quite the loyal companion, a true source of therapeutic relaxation and just one small representation of what is most important to this family-run winery.
⚘ Get Fresh Pairing: 2010 Cabernet Merlot with Death by Chocolate and a Cabernet Twist
A little off the beaten path from other wineries, Creekside is – apparently – one of few wineries in the area to visit if you are looking for the perfect Syrah. I’ve been here on a few occasions and am usually impressed by their uber-organized merchandising and picturesque covered deck in the back and really want the opportunity to get to know this winery a little better – especially because by the time I got there all of the mussels had been scooped up and enjoyed by other passport holders.
⚘ Get Fresh Pairing: 2012 Estate Sauv Blanc with Sauv Blanc steamed Blue Mussels tossed with Fennel, Tomatoes & Spring Herbs
Located downtown picturesque Jordan Station I wish it was OK to grab a glass of white a few ounces deep and stroll the shops and cafes nearby. I’d stop at the Jordan Art Gallery, the little fudge shop whose name I cannot remember and at Chic by Jansen for their great faux-antique furniture. My favourite feature of Cave Spring’s cellar is their incredibly l-o-n-g tasting bar that ensures any wine lovers who walk in thirsty for some vino will wait mere seconds before they can indulge.
⚘ Get Fresh Pairing: 2012 Sauvignon Blanc with Pesto Pizza
You know it’s time for a small family-run winery to expand when there are always people waiting for space at the tasting bar. Each time I’ve visited Di Profio this has been the case and I love it because there isn’t anything I like more than local businesses flourishing. I also like that in order to get to the tasting bar you have to walk through a portion of the space in the winery where the wine ages in the tanks.
⚘ Get Fresh Pairing: 2012 The Kitchen Zinc with Miniature Cheesecake and Kiwi & Chocolate
If you are a regular reader of local-lux.com (and I hope you are), then you know that Rosewood is near and dear to my heart. They have fantastic staff, spectacular wine (even their weekday wine is wonderful), they also make mead and the Roman family who run Rosewood are all salt of the earth people. I’ve had the opportunity to tour the winery, “meet” the bees, get to know the family and I always receive an incredibly warm welcome when visiting – what more can anyone want from a shop they frequent?
⚘ Get Fresh Pairing: 2011 Estate Riesling with Asparagus Chevre Tart and Olive Oil Crust
FACT: At Malivoire the wine-maker’s name is Shiraz, the cellar door looks like it was designed after a Hobbit hole, their Pinot Noir is delicious and they are frequently visited by The Cheesy Guys cheese truck. And now, to add to this list of “brag-ables” is the rose gelato that Malivoire paired with their Lady Bug Rosé.
⚘ Get Fresh Pairing: 2012 Lady Bug Rosé with Monk’s & Malivoire’s Marvelous Gelato
This winery is about to have a million dollar spectacular view of both Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. I already loved that this cellar is built into the side of a hill at the top of the escarpment but now they are building on-top of the hill and I can only imagine what the view of the lakes will look like from the roof-top garden terrace once the building is complete.
⚘ Get Fresh Pairing: 2012 Narcissist Riesling with Herb & Lime Marinated Shrimp and Garlic-Dill Aioli
If I were my pre-married self and lived in Niagara, Vineland Estates is where I’d tie the knot. Between the restaurant, the chapel, the guest house, the winery boutique, 2nd floor market and old vineyard it’s a recipe for love that lasts a lifetime. Lately their pairings have been done in the VEW Restaurant and I’m really appreciative of the move from their tank room and have enjoyed being able to talk with the event chefs about their pairings.
⚘ Get Fresh Pairing: 2012 Cabernet Franc with a VEW BLT made from Slow Roasted Pork Belly, Guacamole, Upper Canada Comfort Cream, Smoked Tomato Jam & Pullmans Loaf
I have a feeling that the Peninsula Ridge winery is one of the best hidden gems just outside of Beamsville. Each of the times I’ve visited this winery the wine was commendable to say the least and the food was also fantastic. This time around there was a little bit of a wait as the tasting bar but it was worth it for the intimate and thoughtful service. Yes, sometimes we have to wait to be served but when that service finally comes with a smile and some real attention and willingness to talk about wine it makes a real impact on me as a winery guest.
⚘ Get Fresh Pairing: 2011 McNally Vineyards Proprietor’s Reserve Pinot Noir with Duck Confit Cassoulet Soup and Pumpkin Seed Pesto
I love passport events in the Bench – not only do you get to spend time with friends sipping wine and trying new pairings but it also gives us the opportunity to get to know the wineries in our own backyard. Next time you visit a winery during a passport event make sure you also visit their tasting bar and ask for a sip of the wine they are best known for and find out why they are known for it. You wont regret it and you will have the opportunity to get to know the wineries you’re visiting – it’s a Win-Win!
Missed out on Get Fresh and want to be sure not to miss the next 20 Valley Passport Event? Check out Graze the Bench happening June 7th & 8th, 2014 – passports are only $30.