When we went to Niagara Falls for our anniversary this weekend past, we went on a Niagara Wine Tour with lunch from Grape Escape Wine Tours. Alan was our knowledgeable tour guide, and we were able to visit four wineries, Hinterbrook the first carbon-neutral winery in the region, Strewn winery which is also home to a cooking school and restaurant and likely setting for a romance novel series, Pondview Estate and Reif Estate, some of which you might have seen on Twitter under #winetourlivetweet.
– Bad soil makes good grapes. The grapes need to struggle. Or something.
– Non-native varieties of grapes need to be grafted to the stems of native varieties every year. So the vines are kind of Frankenvines. It accounts for some large differences in vintages.
– Weather also affects years in a big way, so if you like a vintage, buy a lot of it while you can.
– Vineyards are all planted north south in Ontario.
– Wine in Niagara has become serious business over the past twenty years or so, but people in Niagara don’t take wine so seriously that they don’t have fun with it.
– Most fruit growers in Niagara have gone over to wine grapes.
– Some Cabernet Sauvignons go with cheese Doritos.
– As of 2010 Ontario was producing over 75% of the world’s ice wine. Which is good stuff, but it’s super sweet – though if you google for recipes, there’s tons including milkshakes, cocktails…
– Ice wine is so expensive because it takes approximately 25 pounds of grape to make one bottle of ice wine versus four pounds of grapes for a regular bottle. Plus the difficulty of harvesting it at the right time…
– If you put the tip of your tongue to the back of your teeth and tilt your head back slightly while tasting ice wine, it helps cut down the sweetness.
– Gary notes that you do not pay tax on wine bought at the winery.
– Barrels for wine are worth over a thousand dollars at the high end, take five years to make, can only be used for three to five years, and get sold off for about seventy bucks.
– You can freeze wine! WHO KNEW?! If you have a partial screwtop bottle of wine or a little bit left that you can pour into a ziploc bag, you can freeze it and it will not affect the taste. It might get a little slushy, but it won’t totally freeze and will keep. Drink or use for cooking. Probably the best of the takeaways!
Thanks to Alan, our wine tour compatriots, the wineries, the great guides at the wineries, and Terrior La Cachette for lunch!