Under the guidance of recently appointed owners Eve McAllister and Steve Johnston, The Wine Place's award-winning experts continue to help customers craft more than 60 wine varieties. After adding yeast to your favourite red, white, or ros? culled from top wine-growing regions such as Australia, Chile, and Spain, personnel oversee the four- to six-week brewing process. Once brews have spilled out from cocoons, oenophiles return for bottling and labelling sessions. The Wine Place's stock of measured electric wine pumps, compressor corkers, and electric shrink-wrap machines ensure a stress-free experience for each eager imbiber. In addition to its standard labels, The Wine Place supplies personalized labels for weddings, birthdays, and cubicle-warming parties.
Under the direction of master winemaker David Johnson, the team behind Rootstocks celebrates wine by leading clients through vine-to-bottle experiences at its pesticide-free vineyard. Members participate as much or as little as they like in producing their own wine, joining any part of the year-long process that includes barrel sampling in the winter and crop thinning in the summer. Located on 10 acres in Niagara wine country, the red clay soil nourishes grapes such as cabernet franc, chardonnay, and pinot noir, all of which Rootstocks’ team helps visitors turn into their signature blends. After the grapes have been harvested by hand, processed, aged in barrels, and assigned astrological signs, an in-house graphic designer helps clients create their own custom labels.
The dedicated guides of Niagara Fun Tours escort flocks of visitors around the Niagara region all year round during their guided tours. Summer and Winter wine tours visit, taste, and tour at four award winning wineries studding the Niagara Wine Belt, where settings range from mountain chalets to baroque and modern castle decor to rustic wood farmhouses. For tour-goers that prefer libations other than wine, Niagara Fun Tours offers other seasonal tours that stop at local distilleries, micro breweries, and hard cider distilleries. Guides often conclude their tours with stops at locales such as the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake or Chocolate FX, where chocolate artisans fashion often-unconventional taste combinations using traditional panning and moulding techniques. Sightseers embark on a new Niagara Beer, Spirits and Hard Cider tour, seasonal winery tours, or private scenic torus of Niagara Falls. Participants enjoy tastings at each location, have a chance to grab some lunch at Harvest Barn Country Market, and receive a wine tasting at Rancourt Winery. Niagara Fun Tours also provides round-trip transportation from multiple locations in Niagara for each tour, loading guests into large shuttle buses that accommodate up to 48 passengers or into vehicles that accommodate up to 21 giraffes.
Though most people may picture winemakers among sunny coastal knolls, Jamie Macfarlane can often be found staying up late each December, waiting for the thermometer to hit -8 degrees Celsius. It's at that point—frigid, quiet, dark—that Jamie knows his vidal grapes are ready for harvest. Left to freeze, thaw, and freeze again, the grapes have already matured throughout the season, allowing the robust notes of apricot, peach, butterscotch, and honey to develop under the outer layer of stone-cold skin.
Once the mercury hits -8 degrees, Jamie and his team head out to the vines to handpick the grapes while they're still frozen. They rush them to the winery, press them through the night, and transfer the concentrated must to the fermenting tanks before the sun rises and demands its keg of morning coffee. The Ice House Winery grows vidal, Cabernet, and Riesling varietals. In the tasting bar at The Ice House Winery, visitors can peer at these batches-in-progress as they lean on a rough-cut support beam or barrel table, listening to Jamie spin yarns about the days when his grapes were still young and in diapers.
Herbert Konzelmann was in a pickle. He took the reins of his great-grandfather’s winery in Germany just around the time that the country’s growing population needed more land. Unable to acquire the acreage he needed to expand, Herbert uprooted his business from his homeland and moved to Niagara-on-the-Lake in 1983. He chose the shorefront spot due to its balance of sun, soil, airflow, and moisture that mimics the climate of the many successful wineries started inside of deserted terrariums. He and his staff—many of whom are part of the Konzelmann family—strive to produce low-yield, high-quality wines. To achieve this, they handpick grapes from the oldest vines to create award-winning vintages in their signature style: a clean, delicate, and fruity pour. The lush lakefront vineyard also serves as a backdrop for weddings, corporate events, tours, and tasting.
During the weekend of April 26–28, 2013, representatives from local and international wineries, breweries, and restaurants flock to the Scotiabank Convention Centre to showcase their specialties. While experts from Vines Magazine lead tutored tastings, local musical acts such as Jesse Parent and Duo d’Amore perform onstage. Elsewhere, chefs demonstrate their signature dishes on the chef stage and a silent auction to benefit the Breast Cancer Society of Canada lets guests bid on guided tours by experts, such as Iron Chef America’s Kevin Brauch.