Attention Hillebrand Shoppers … at this year’s Jazz Festival (their 21st) Hillebrand had some exciting news to tell. As you may, or may not, know, 5-year winemaker Darryl Brooker has headed off for the desert of British Columbia; so Hillebrand was left looking for a winemaker to fill some pretty big shoes. Today it was officially announced that the multi-award winning winemaker Crag McDonald, long time winemaker for Creekside, would be filling those shoes. In this season of free-agent signings (a reference for all you hockey and basketball fans) this is a coup – it’s like trading one franchise player for another. Craig takes over the role in late July. Now on with the rest of the show … Read more »Leave a Comment
Niagara is just the latest destination for the culinary food truck trend to stop at. Food trucks have been around forever. Ever since the invention of the wheel, man has learned to roll his food around and then sell it to his fellow man on the street. These days you mostly find burgers, dogs and fries as well as other simple street fare, like say ice cream; but lately the trend is to cook more culinary-type foods out of these grease kitchens on wheels, minus the grease and add fresh, more healthy fare … Gone are the burgers, dogs, onion rings and piles of poutine, welcome, in this case, to the gourmet taco. Read more »Leave a Comment
As we drove along the sky seemed to clear in front of us while those gray clouds lingered above Toronto, not willing to let the city of “elite’ out of its gloomy grip. In front of us it looked like it might be a shower-free day. And that’s good, because TASTE! Is an outdoor event which takes place at the Crystal Palace in downtown Picton. This year it was bigger then ever: more wineries, more fooderies and more of everything else. Read more »Leave a Comment
With rain in the forecast every day leading up to the event the folks at Huff did not want to take any chances, so up went a tent and instead of a walk through the vineyard to collect your food and wine pairings you were warm and dry under the big top. As luck would have it, the rains held off so you could eat with the sun at your back on a variety of benches and tables outside the confines of the tent… though there were tables also set up inside, just in case you did not want to leave the cozy confines of the tented area. I’m talking here about one of the most unique (uniquest – can something really be more unique? That’s a question for another day) events I have ever, and continue to attend and be enthralled with. Six renowned chefs are paired up with 6 barrel samples of unfinished wine – they cook outdoors in the vineyard and create some of the most deliciously inventive dishes you’ll ever see come off a hot plate. This year’s event had an international flair as one of the chefs was from Ireland (“I just had to take part,” Denis Cotter said to me). Read more »Leave a Comment
My first visit to Ontario Wine Country was back in August of 2003. At the time, I admit I had a very limited knowledge of what our Niagara wineries had to offer, although I was immensely curious, having read a fair bit via the LCBO Food & Drink magazine and the Toronto Star wine columnists.
In the 1970s, I had grown up hearing about Baby Duck wine, a Canadian product we all used to blush and laugh about. European wines, at the time, were considered superior, as were vintages from Napa. So my world view, with respect to Canadian wines, was tinged with suspicion when people started talking about Niagara wineries.
In 2003 I chose to spend five days and four nights in Niagara Falls, with a quick visit planned for Niagara-on-the-Lake. (That quick visit turned into three visits, which included outings to several tourist attractions, a couple of plays in the historic town, fine dining, a visit to two wineries and countless farmers’ markets.)Leave a Comment
When I moved to Ontario (and Canada) 10 years ago, my exposure to Ontario wine consisted of a few trips through Niagara on the way back to the States and some really unimpressive wine (Baby Duck anyone?)
About 8 years ago, I met some friends here in Toronto who were fans of Ontario wine – and I just couldn’t understand why. When I lived in the States, I traveled to Napa and Sonoma at least twice a year, had visited Washington State wine country, had been involved in several wine clubs in Chicago, and lived near one of the biggest and best wine stores in North America – so I had tasted (and collected) lots of wines. However, I hadn’t tried a single Ontario wine since moving here – my memories just weren’t of anything I liked.1 Comment
Bikes, trains, no automobiles and Ontario VQA wine. “Those aren’t pillows!” quoted my buddy Bri as I reached past him to grab the map out of my bike saddle bags. What can be more Canadian and more local than throwing your bikes onto a train at Union Station and heading off to the Niagara wine region for the labour day long weekend? I also packed some maple syrup and bacon to add to the authenticity. Thanks Bike Train for making it all possible. We chose a perfect weekend to hunt for the best VQA wine the Niagara Escarpment has to offer. Super hot and no rain. 5 brave bike soldiers got off the train at St. Catherines, a wee pedal to our bed and breakfast in the quaint town of Jordan to get settled. Unload the toiletries and off we go to taste the many pleasures.
First stop… Henry of Pelham. The Speck Bros are genius. They named their new wines after their brotherly battles “Sibling Rivalry”. Of course the tame game of rock, paper, scissors pictured on their caps can’t be entirely true of their childhood battles. I envision a not so friendly 3-person game of 8-ball with the loser being dumped in a barrel of grape must.5 Comments
I recently attended the Amherstburg Wine Festival & it was absolutely fantastic. I tasted wines from various local wineries that were tantalizing to my tastebuds & extremely excellent wines! I was also wined, dined & entertained throughout the weekend long festival! It had rained before the festival so there was some muddy conditions to deal with but nobody seemed to mind & the smart ones even brought elegant umbrellas to tour the wineries. “A little bit of rain won’t hurt you”, I heard one woman say, “and anyways we’re not made of sugar, we won’t melt & I’m not letting poor weather dampen my wine tasting experience!” I would totally recommend this Festival to anyone who’s in the area in September & has a free weekend. Once you go once you’ll make it a yearly event on your personal calendar. It’s amazing how many local wineries are in South-Western Ontario & the quality of the wines & facilities are exceptional:)Leave a Comment
I’m used to people from other countries being surprised when I tell them that Canada has a flourishing wine industry. The common statement I hear is “Isn’t Canada too cold to make wine?” Bless their hearts. They also think that Vancouver is a short car ride from Toronto, failing to realize how vast and diverse this country actually is that we live in. I suddenly became very excited to introduce this person to our wonderful wine industry. I’m sure that they weren’t prepared for my long detailed information session. It’s a good thing we were in a small confined space.17 Comments
The LCBO’s Media Relations Consultant Trina Hendry and Man About Town Suresh Doss hosted about 40 media folk, on a day trip to some of Ontario’s finest vineyards last Wednesday.
We left on a private VIA train from Union Station. On board we were treated to breakfast and coffee and got a chance to meet new people and catch up with old friends.
We arrived at St. Catharine’s station where we were to board one of two buses. We were handed cards on the train that would indicate what bus we’d take and what vineyard we’d visit. We weren’t told a thing and I think that was one of the hardest parts of the day for many folks – just letting go of control and allowing someone else to take charge. Me? I loved it. It was a nice mental break, as I’m usually the person juggling 10 things and hosting a large group of people. Read more »1 Comment