Niagara’s icewine festival welcomes 30-plus operators to 2024 event

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The sight of hanging nets has been a common sight this week across Niagara Region as many vineyards prepare to celebrate the annual icewine harvest season.

Dorian Anderson, executive director of Niagara Grape and Wine Festival, says the nets are meant to hold grapes on vines and capture grapes that fall off prior to the harvest, which happens when the temperature drops below -8 C.

“Those nets hold the grapes until they can freeze, and then the machines go through most of it … usually in one night or a weekend and pick everything,” Anderson explained.

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Some 35 operators will take part in this year’s icewine festival, consisting of wine and culinary tours between Jan. 12 and 28.

Up to 25,000 people have attended the event in recent years with more and more from outside Niagara making it a winter destination.

Anderson says each winery picks their product of the year and works with local chefs to create a food pairing which she suggests are typically “savory or spicy food pairings.”

“The wines are something unusual that people don’t try very often, and this gives them a great chance to try it in the right setting with the right food pairings,” she said.

Passes to the event, on the event’s website, range as low as $25 plus taxes and fees for a non-alcoholic driver’s mini pass to $225 Icewine Getaway Bundle.

Other events include the Cool As Ice Gala at the Niagara Parks Power Station on January 13, featuring 25 Niagara wineries and showcasing eight restaurants.

Guests will also get exclusive access to the Niagara Parks Power Station, which will have live music, art, a glass-paneled elevator and a walk to the edge of Niagara Falls.

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