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Five Vineyards for Drinking Ice Wine in Niagara

Ellie Swain

Contributor

Unless you’re a wine connoisseur, you may be unaware that the Niagara region of Ontario is a world-renowned area for producing sweet and syrupy ice wines, some considered to be the best in the world. If you’re visiting Niagara during the blustery winter months, then a day out navigating the wineries of the area is an exciting way to sample some of Canada’s most unique wines.

What Is Ice Wine?

Never heard of ice wine, let alone tried it? Then you may be wondering exactly what it is.

Ice wine is produced by planting vineyards in seasonal climates that freeze during the colder months when there’s plummeting temperatures and snowfall. While the vines grow healthily during the summer, the grapes freeze during the winter months.

While initially, you may believe the grapes to ruin, it’s only the water in the grapes that freeze. That means that the sugars within the grapes can be separated from the water before the fermentation process.

Harvest of ice wine grapes usually occurs when temperatures hit -8*C or even colder. When picked, the naturally frozen grapes offer a distinct juice packed with an intense concentration of sugars, acids, flavours, and aromas.

After the pressing and fermenting process, the result is a smooth, sweet, and syrupy ice wine that tastes like a mouth-watering hit of nectar. As such, ice wines are very similar to dessert wines and are usually sold as such.

When visiting the wineries of Niagara, the landscapes are a sight to behold. Imagine stretches and stretches of vineyards coiling out from underneath thick blankets of pure white snow.

While there are plenty of quality wineries to visit in the area, here are some of our favourites. Cheers!

Konzelmann Estate Winery

Ice wines first originated from Germany, where the Konzelmann Winery started their expertise before switching continents to Canada in 1984. Billed as Niagara’s only lakefront vineyard, here you can sip on the specialised Vidal varieties while admiring the icy views of the lake.

With the Vidal varieties featuring a balanced, thick, and syrupy taste, you’ll feel like you’re drinking a golden dessert straight from a glass.

Peller Estates

Close to Niagara-on-the-Lake, the beautiful Peller Estate was established in the spring of 1969. Despite their history, the winery is unafraid to welcome innovative ways to introduce their selection of ice wines to guests.

The estate hosts an impressive winery tour that includes a visit to the quirky frozen bar, 10 Below that’s crafted with ice. Don’t worry – it may be cold, but you’ll be given a toasty parka to cosy up in as you sip on a chilled glass of ice wine wearing woolly gloves.

Sample the different varieties of ice wine on offer, including the mouth-watering Ice Cuvee – our favourite.

Stomach rumbling? Grab a table at the elegant Winery Restaurant and enjoy sweeping vineyard views as you tuck into wine country cuisine in the warm and welcoming dining room. 

Pillitteri Estates Winery

A family-run business since 1948, the Pillitteri Estates Winery is proud to create a legacy of quality ice winemaking, with three generations involved in the winery’s operations.

When it comes to ice wine, Pillitteri is frequently championed at wine competitions hosted throughout the world, winning some of the most respected awards in the industry. Pillitteri isn’t afraid to use innovative grapes for their varieties either, experimenting with the likes of Sangiovese, Sauvignon Blanc, and Shiraz to produce unique and delicious ice wines.

Be sure to sample their Semillion ice wine which offers a nutty finish suggestive of a tawny port. While it may not suit everyone’s tastes, if you love it, you’ll really love it.

Inniskillin Wines

Just a 25-minute drive from the almighty Niagara Falls lies Inniskillin Wines, Canada’s most recognized ice wine producer. Established in 1974, the winery offers classic dessert wines from various types to suit different tastes.

Head to the dedicated ice wine tasting bar to learn of the varieties produced and try a flight to see which option takes your fancy. Prefer the sweeter the better? Then you’ll love the syrupy Rieslings that will leave you drooling for another drop.

Caroline Cellars

Opened in 1978, Caroline Cellars boasts four generations of grape growing tradition in both Germany and Canada. Sitting on prime grape growing soil, the cellars are one of Niagara’s favourite family-owned and operated wineries, producing treacly ice wines to warm your insides on a frosty winter’s day in Ontario.

Browse the wine boutique to discover all that’s on offer, or head to the tasting bar to sample some of the good stuff. The Farmhouse Café is an extension of the farm and winery, and the rustic surroundings provide the ideal atmosphere for a hearty lunch. Tuck into wine country fare before finishing the meal with a scrummy glass – or two – of silky ice wine.

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