Niagara Icewine Festival (Part 1)

Once a year, if you head down to the Niagara region in Ontario, Canada, you have the chance to sample some of the most renowned icewines this planet has to offer. People travel from all over the world to try the sweet and succulent flavors that the Great White North has to offer.

The festival takes place every weekend in January and most wineries in the region take part with a pairing of icewine and a small plate. To partake, you can purchase a pass (or passport, as they call it) which allows you to go to 8 wineries. This costs $45 CAD.

Okay, logistics aside! Onto the trip!

He looks so thrilled

We split the trip up into 2 days. We went to 6 wineries the first day and 4 on the second (we somehow ended up with an extra stop 😍)

We chose our stops based off of wineries we haven’t been to before, and on the pairings offered. Usually every place has something special to offer so it is super tough to choose. But we managed.

Our first stop was the Niagara College Teaching Winery. We like to stop off here every once in a while because we always leave impressed with what they have to offer. This time was no different. I have to give props to the students here. Their products are always fun and unique and super affordable.

They were serving up the 2014 Dean’s List Prodigy and the Sparkling Balance Brut. These were paired with a savory mushroom and goat cheese tart and a raspberry cheesecake. These pairings were perfectly balanced. This icewine is a blend, and relatively light on the sugar content. An airier ice wine, the Prodigy brings all the flavors of pears and honey without tasting syrupy.

The 2013 Balance Brut is delightful. Heavy on the apricot and apple on the nose and follows up with floral notes and a mineral finish. At about $25 a bottle, it’s a lovely bottle of bubbly.

Next stop on the list was Wayne Gretzky’s Estate Winery. After reflecting on our trip, Thomas told me this was one of his favorites from the festival. If you haven’t been to the new facility, do check it out. It’s an incredible place that really combines a tourist destination with cozy Canadian decor. Even though it’s a busy place, the chic cabin decor and modern dining areas give you plenty of different spaces to explore and hang out in. The best part in our opinion, though, is the ice rink. Step out and pretend you’re the Great One himself and test your skating skills!

Now Gretzky served up a whisky cheesecake bar with dark chocolate paired with their 2017 Cabernet Franc Icewine. Now this pairing was great. It’s pretty tried and true that cheesecake and icewine go together well. The fact being that cheesecake is not the sweetest of desserts but balances out a very sweet icewine.

Even though Gretzky’s is typically large and busy, and we prefer the charm of the smaller wineries, we often suggest that people visit at least once. The employees at Gretzky’s are amazingly friendly and knowledgable and will help even the most inexperienced of wine and whiskey drinkers feel comfortable doing tastings.

And for someone who was born in the city of Edmonton, you can probably guess why I have a soft spot for this place.

Eryn’s Review Takeover – The Six Brewing Co.

Welcome to the takeover. I was going to write this whole thing on Instagram, but it got too long. So here we are. Anyway, I had such a good time eating oysters and drinking beer last night at The Six Brewing Co. in Toronto, that I simply had to tell the world… Most of this is on the Instagram post, except for the reviews of the beers themselves, so there may be some hashtags and such in here that you just don’t care about. 🙂 So without further ado…

2018-09-15 12.14.27 2.jpg

Mmmmm oysters! I cannot get enough of them on hot days. Thomas, however, could do without… so we compromised and got beer as well. Now this isn’t a post about wine, but we love all sorts of boozy delights, so why not throw some of that in here too, once in a while.

Last night we hit the town for #torontobeerweek and you should definitely take a peek to see what the festival has to offer. There are quite a few events going on and we used it as an excuse to try something new. So, we found ourselves at the @sixbrewingco which is a sizeable joint over on Dundas Street West.

40805413_721056684908684_8172899321135777699_n.jpg

Frankly, we were surprised we have never been here, it was very much our style of hangout. It features a large, cute patio that is blocked off from the street, making it feel almost secluded; and a spacious interior and bar and a party room in the basement for larger groups.

Now for the best part – BEER!

20180914_185506.jpg

Together, we tried 5 of the many beers they have to offer. Tasting flights are available if you want to do it the wussy way. I’ll give you a quick run down of the beers and my personal opinion of them. If you want to experience them without my obvious bias, go try them yourself.

Line 2 Lager – 4.2%alc, IBU 20. Thomas loved this very sessionable light beer. It was floral with a little bit of hoppiness at the end. Very refreshing, and a good beer for someone who wants like, 6 pints.

Sugar Beach Saison – 4.2%alc, IBU 45. I loved this beer so very much. It was complex and rich and had so many layers to take you straight to flavourtown. Now I’m not much of a fan of hops, but this one blended them in with levels of florals and almost a yeasty sort of bread flavour to make it like a beer drinking experience. Definitely my favourite of all that I tried.

Dry-hopped Sour – 6.6% IBU 10. The sour beer craze is here to stay and I’m so okay with that. However, I am not okay with the acid-reflex sours tend to give me. I liked this one because it didn’t give me that; I could walk away not feeling like I ate a bag of lemons. The sourness wasn’t overwhelming but it gave this beer a nice little kick at the end. Great for people who like a bit of sour but also like to not die because of it.

Hopster Session IPA – 4.3%alc IBU 40. – I’m not gonna lie, things got a little foggy around this beer. But, I do remember thinking, “Man, I don’t like IPA’s usually but this one isn’t half bad!” This brewery loves its floral notes, and this beer is no exception.  ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

New England IPA – 7.2%alc IBU 40 – Yeah, I don’t remember this one. But the website says this beer has a multitude of different hops and I’m sure its a very sophisticated beer.

Overall, it was an awesome evening. The food was great, the staff was attentive and the ambiance was refreshingly relaxed for being in Toronto. The Six Brewing Co. makes you very aware that you’re drinking a product of the city, but does it in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way that’s cute and new without being pretentious. We will for sure be back.