The Niagara Wine Festival involves delightful wine, food and vineyard experiences at many of Niagara's notable wineries. It's a celebration of the harvest and our popular Niagara wines. I discovered that The Niagara Wine Festival Discovery Pass is a good incentive for wine aficionados. For $40, one is guaranteed 8 food and wine tastings in participating wineries during the festival's three consecutive weekends in September.
Three St. Catharines wineries out of six participated in this program - 13th Street, Hernder and Rockway Glen. Henry of Pelham, Harvest and King's Court did not partake in the Discovery Pass program. 13th Street I have covered, so let's look closer at Hernder and Rockway.
At Rockway, I sampled wine maker, David Stasiuk's Plush White, a 100% Vidal and his blend, White Assemblage - 75% Chardonnay, 15% Gewurztraminer and 10% Riesling. The wine was accompanied with sweet potatoes in roasted beet sauce to enhance the sweetness. The tasting area involved using large wine casks for tables.
Rockway's 75 acres located on Ninth St. are adjacent to an attractive 18-hole golf course, and the duffers were out in force on a sunny day. A large golf green is the first thing one sees when driving up to the entrance. The vineyards are located in the Twenty Mile Bench sub-appellation, known for mineral-rich soils similar to that of Burgundy in France.
Rockway houses a mixture of French and American oak barrels ranging in age, forests and cooperages, and they offer guests an antique wine museum, where one may view the history of winemaking from the 17th and 18th centuries. Website:
At Hernder on Eighth Ave., Louth, one drives down a winding country lane through a gorgeous covered bridge to a restored 1867 Victorian barn. It's a favourite location for weddings and wedding photo shoots, interupted today by a steady stream of us wine tasters, and one whom I met, drove all the way from Syracuse to sample our Canadian wines.
Here, I tested wine maker Lydia Tomek's Baco Noir 2015 which was paired with delicious blueberry sorbet, the sorbet infused with wine. This could get to be habit forming!
Hernder is a large winery, utilizing 500 of its 650 acres for vineyards. They grow 18 varieties of grapes, and produce a wide variety of wines including fruit wines using local crops. Hernder's website for more information is:
What I like most about the Discovery Pass is that it encourages one to venture out into the beautiful Niagara countryside off the major roadways and encourages visits to places one might otherwise not go. We boast many great wineries here in Niagara with St. Catharines now up to six.
You can read more about the Discovery Pass at: http://www.niagarawinefestival.com/