Niagara, Ontario is a region well-known for its picturesque landscapes and sprawling vineyards that stretch across the countryside. But there’s something special about the wine produced in this area that sets it apart from other regions: ice wine. Made from grapes that are harvested in the dead of winter, ice wine is a unique and highly sought-after product that can only be produced in certain regions where the climate allows for it. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the world of ice wine in Niagara, Ontario.
What is Ice Wine?
Ice wine, also known as Eiswein in German, is a type of dessert wine that is made from grapes that have been left to freeze on the vine. The grapes are typically harvested in the dead of winter, when the temperature drops to at least -8°C (17.6°F), and they are left to hang on the vine until they have frozen solid. Once frozen, the grapes are picked by hand and pressed while they are still frozen, resulting in a highly concentrated juice that is sweet and full of flavour.
Why Niagara is Perfect for Ice Wine Production
Niagara is one of the few regions in the world where ice wine can be produced. This is due to the region’s unique climate, which is characterized by hot summers and cold winters. The summers provide the ideal growing conditions for grapes, while the cold winters allow for the grapes to freeze on the vine, a key requirement for ice wine production.
Niagara’s wineries have also invested heavily in the technology and expertise required for producing ice wine. They have developed specialized harvesting techniques and equipment, as well as state-of-the-art temperature-controlled facilities for pressing and fermenting the grapes.
Types of Ice Wine
There are several types of ice wine produced in Niagara, each with its own unique flavour and character. Some of the most popular types include:
- Vidal Ice Wine: Made from the Vidal grape, this ice wine has a rich and fruity flavour, with notes of apricot and honey.
- Cabernet Franc Ice Wine: This ice wine is made from the Cabernet Franc grape and has a complex flavour profile, with hints of black currant and spice.
- Riesling Ice Wine: Made from the Riesling grape, this ice wine is crisp and refreshing, with a delicate balance of sweetness and acidity.
Ice Wine Tasting
Ice wine is best served chilled and is typically enjoyed as a dessert wine or paired with cheese, fruit, or chocolate. When tasting ice wine, it’s important to note its sweetness, acidity, and flavour profile. Some ice wines may have a syrupy consistency, while others may be lighter and more refreshing.
Visiting Niagara’s Ice Wine Country
If you’re interested in exploring Niagara’s ice wine country, there are several wineries that offer tours and tastings. Some of the most popular include Peller Estates, Inniskillin, and Jackson-Triggs. These wineries offer a variety of tours, from intimate tastings to full-day excursions that include vineyard tours and food pairings.
Niagara’s ice wine industry is a testament to the region’s unique climate and the expertise of its winemakers. With its complex flavours and rich history, ice wine has become an iconic product of Niagara, Ontario, and a must-try for anyone visiting the region. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or simply looking for a unique culinary experience, a visit to Niagara’s ice wine country is sure to be a memorable one.