Winter Icewine Festival: Less Whine, More Wining!

Winter Icewine Festival: Less Whine, More Wining!

By David DeRocco

 When a polar vortex or bomb cyclone ushers in a sub-zero blast of winter weather, there are two things you can do: whine about the ice, or celebrate with some ice wine.

The organizers of the 2018 Niagara Ice Wine Festival suggest you warm up to the second option really fast, because there are over 35 local Niagara wineries preparing to indulge  you during the 23rd edition of this unique local wine festival.  For those who may not know, ice wine is a type of dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine – freezing them before the fermentation process. The sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, but the water does, allowing a more concentrated grape must (the freshly pressed fruit juice that contains the skins, seeds, and stems of the fruit) to be pressed from the frozen grapes. This results in a smaller amount of more concentrated, very sweet wine. Its production is limited to a minority of the world’s wine-growing regions where cold temperatures make it possible, like right here in Niagara.

Given the production requirements to make it, ice wine is usually more expensive than regular Niagara wine. In fact, bottles of Royal DeMaria Wines 2000 Chardonnay Winter Harvest Wine have been sold for as much as $30,000. Thankfully, organizers of the local festival have included their Discovery Pass program as an affordable way to travel the ice wine route; passes are $45 and contain eight experience vouchers that treat you to wine samples and food pairings.

While many of the wineries host their own celebrations to accommodate the Discovery Pass, there are actually three distinct parts to the Niagara Icewine Festival:

Niagara Falls Icewine Festival - The Scotiabank Convention Centre transforms into a winter wonderland for the 2018 Niagara Falls Icewine Festival. Cozy-up to loved ones as you sip your way through premium VQA Wines and Icewines from over 15 of Niagara’s exceptional wineries. These wines will pair perfectly with the savoury dishes offered by some of Niagara’s most talented chefs. Niagara’s most entertaining musicians will have you dancing along to your favourite songs and if the party gets a little too toast inside, take a stoll through the outdoor Icewine Winter Wonderland, complete with ice sculptures and lights, where you can enjoy all that winter has to offer.
January 26 & 27, 2018

Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival - Experience the first taste of winter at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival, beginning January 19, 2018. Featuring the BEST in music, Icewine and food.
January 19-21 & 26-28, 2018

Twenty Valley Winter Winefest - Here in Niagara's Twenty Valley, we know how to have fun! Our annual Winter WineFest brings together Niagara's top winemakers, chefs and premium VQA wines. Last year the event is moved back to its premium roots, offering great food, premium wines, sparkling and Icewine served outdoors on the streets of pretty little Jordan Village. Cozy fire pits and warming stations help you keep toasty, we want you to enjoy winter! Being outdoors is what makes it so Canadian.
January 12-14, 2018

If you’re looking for luxury, you can’t miss Canada’s most lavish evening, the Niagara Icewine Festival Gala at Fallsview Casino Resort on January 12. Our  “Authentically Canadian” theme promises incredible dishes from each of Canada’s provinces and territories, in addition to over 100 VQA Icewines and table wines to sip and sample. 

For the wine and culinary explorer, the Discovery Pass program is your ticket to eight unique pairings at your choice of over 35 wineries across the Niagara Region during the festival, which runs January 12 - 28. Get yours at