Icewine Classic Weekend (Niagara-on-the-Lake)
I want to report on the Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Classic Weekend. This is an annual event that took place this year on Feb 23-25, and was an all-inclusive package that included two nights hotel (Pillar-and-Post), all transportation, and a variety of food-and-wine experiences in NOTL. When I was trying to decide whether or not to attend this event, I couldn't find much information, and the website was very late in putting detailed information up on it. So I thought it might be useful for other foodies to hear about it.
The package included a semi-formal Friday night tasting gala at the hotel with a variety of chefs producing different small dishes to taste. Many wineries were also present and you could try both regular wines and icewines (unlimited). For the most part I really enjoyed the food but unfortunately the amount of wine I drank during the weekend has fuzzed my memory about all the details. After the gala we were bussed to Queen Street on NOTL for dessert, icewine martinis, and music by a jazz group.
On Saturday there was continental breakfast at the hotel, then a trip to Inniskillin winery for more icewine tasting, a taste of French toast prepared with icewine, and a chance to get autographed books from Anna Olson and Donald Ziraldo (Inniskillin cofounder). Lunch was at the Edgewater restaurant that overlooks Niagara Falls and featured dishes by "celebrity" food network chefs (Roger Mooking, Jason Parsons and Anthony Sedlak) with wine pairings. Again the food was excellent. After lunch there was an option of going to one of two wineries, if you wished (Reif or Coyote's Run) for more tastings. There was some free time in the later afternoon, and then after sparkling wine in the hotel lobby before dinner. The group was split up and there were 6 different Winemaker's Dinners to go to. (We were given the names of the wineries / chefs and had to give our top 3 choices -- however no menus were available beforehand). I'm not sure if some of the dinners were also open to the public, but the one I ended up at (Pillitteri) was an intimate dinner of 1 table of 20 people. The wines and food were both fabulous and once again I came home quite intoxicated :)
Sunday morning there was brunch at the hotel. The package also included a bottle of Inniskillin Vidal icewine, a corkscrew, a cookbook by Anthony Sedlack, and some promotional LCBO DVDs on wine and icewine, and a CD by Roger Mooking.
There were 60 people in the group, and most of them were Americans in their 40s and 50s (We were a couple in out 30s from Toronto). Many seemed to be amatuer wine buffs. The price is steep ($795 / person) but depending on how deep your pockets are and how much you can drink (and how much you like icewine) you may find it worth it. Certainly overall I had a relaxing weekend with a lot of great food and wine.