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We were all set for a girls weekend! Olga arrived on Friday evening and we enjoyed snacks and gossip, then watched Eclipse! Olga had a bootleg copy and it was great to watch it again to see some more of Ed Cullen *swoon*

Saturday: We started the day with a good breakfast (eggs, bacon, hash browns, toast, fruit and coffee). We needed a big breakfast to last us through the day – we were going wine tasting!

Our first stop was at Southbrook (organic wine) where there were sheep outside. Of course, Chris had to go make friends. ūüôā

We tasted a few wines (bought 2 bottles: syrah and rosé) and talked about the sheep. Turns out they make 100% wool blankets too.

Our second stop was Palatine Hills which is always a fun and friendly stop. We had a great time sampling some great wines and chatting with the great folks there. We got a Gewurtz, a Cabernet/Merlot and a Rosé.

Next stop: Lunch at Ravine! Always a treat. We had a nice table on the outdoor patio. I had the pizza (tomato, basil, pecorino). Olga had the pulled chicken sandwich with orzo salad. Chris has the pork and cheese sandwich with cole slaw.

The third winery we stopped at was Caroline Cellars. We enjoyed several wines, purchase a bottle of Momentum (white) and a Cabernet Sauvignon. We had a nice chat there too – such friendly people.

Our fourth and final winery was Inniskillin where we tasted some Pinot Grigio. I wanted to go back here to get some more of the Pinot Noir Rosé which is simply fantastic. We got a Pinot Grigio as well Рit was so refreshing and citrusy.

Then back home we went!

We had an awesome dinner at the Keg – mmmmm¬†steak! ūüôā And creme brulee¬†for dessert. Tasty! Back home, we watched Remember¬†Me (all Robert Pattinson, all the time!). It was actually¬†a pretty good movie with interesting characters and a shocking ending.

Sunday:

After breakfast (banana walnut muffins and fruit), we were off to Toys R Us to look for DC figurines that don’t sell in Quebec because of the language laws (found 3 of them – score!), then off to Square One. We had quite the successful shopping trip! I got a few tops and jewelry from RW & Co, black flats from Spring, 3 tops from H&M and a flower accessory. I’m on the lookout for a fall purse and am leaning towards blue, but we’ll see closer to the cold weather.

Back at home, we had fun in the pool – it was warmer in the water than outside! Then, it was fajita and margarita time!! Oh, and affogato sundaes…Mmmm

And then, it was our nightly dose¬†of Robert Pattinson¬†in New Moon. ūüėõ

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Saturday: Niagara New Vintage Festival

We enjoyed breakfast at home, then drove out to Niagara (Vineland area and Niagara on the Lake) for a day of wine tasting and relaxation. The weather started out pretty gloomy but it turned out to be a gorgeous day. 

First stop: Wayne Gretzky Estates. 

 

We got to try two wines with two different appetizers. The first was a 2008 Unoaked Chardonnay paired with a crisped very thin slice of¬†pear (or maybe apple) with a little scoop of blue cheese on it – although I’m not usually a fan of blue cheese it was really good and¬†the fruit chip was awesome. The¬†wine smelled like banana but didn’t taste¬† like it¬†– that was really neat. The second was a Shiraz Cabernet paired with a beef spring roll with an awesome dipping sauce. The spice of the wine paired very well with the kick in the sauce. Nice!¬†

 

Next stop: Vineland Estates 

Gloomy weather but gorgeous property nonetheless. There was a wedding going on and the bride and groom were taking pics in the vineyards. Nice!

We tried the Rosé Pinot Meunier which was paired with sourdough bread and cheese fondue (one fondue had truffles and the other not). I tried the one with the truffles and it was awesome. The rosé was refreshing and fruity Рperfect for summer patios! We purchased 2 bottles. 

Third stop: Flat Rock Cellars 

What a cool property this was. 

 

We got to enjoy the 2008 Twisted which was a blend of primarily Riesling¬†with Gew√ľrztraminer and Chardonnay and it was paired with a curried pork taco (with cucumber and cilantro). Yummy. In their boutique they had some really fun accessories and games for sale. The whole vibe was fun and hip – great place. We purchased a bottle of the Twisted.¬†

Next stop: Lunch at Ravine, weather cleared up so we sat outside on the rear patio with a view of the vineyards and the smell of the wood-burning oven. I love this place. It’s cozy and rustic with mismatched wooden chairs. They sell baked goods, preserves and cheeses – I could live here and be very content til the end of my days.¬†

Nicki and I ate the same thing - the St. David's cheese and charcuterie board.

The walnut bread (left in photo) was fantastic. The spiced pecans were heaven. The fruit compote was amazing. Prosciutto, cheese, pickled veggies… I loved it.¬†

Chris had the pulled chicken sandwich with cole slaw - he enjoyed it.

Chris and I on the patio. Off to the left is the building where they were baking stuff in the oven - smelled awesome!

Nicki and the vineyard ūüôā

The second half of the day was in Niagara on the Lake. Next stop: Chateau des Charmes. 

 

We got to try 4 different Chardonnays¬†which was actually a really neat experience. The 2007 Musqu√©¬†was unoaked, very light. The 2008 Barrel Fermented was a bit too powerful for my liking but that’s just a personal preference. The 2006 St. David’s Bench and 2006 Paul Bosc estates were very similar: they were grown the same, from the same grapes¬†and only difference was one was the vineyard. I preferred the Paul Bosc but the Musqu√© was a close second.¬†

Chris and I outside Chateau des Charmes

Nicki outside Chateau des Charmes

Pretty flowers ūüôā

Next stop: Inniskillin 

 

Nicki with the barrels

We tasted the Pinot Noir Ros√© paired with seared tuna and watermelon and cucumber ceviche and ros√© reduction. Mmm. We bought a bottle of this – it was fruity and refreshing. “Luscious” is the word that comes to mind. ūüôā¬†

Baby grapes!

Last stop: Niagara Teaching College 

We wanted to show Nicki the cool wine labels. ūüôā This stop actually turned out to be one of my favourites: Ros√© wine (College Ros√©) paired¬†with a cantaloupe, wine and mint “mini salad” that was soooo¬†good. I’m going to try to reproduce this at home – it was great. And I’ll serve it with the bottle we bought. ūüôā¬†

Our loot for the day: 

4 rosé and 1 white blend - summer wines here we come!

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One of my good friends is coming to visit next weekend…and what better way to spend the weekend – we’ll be going to the New Vintage Festival in Niagara.

With the purchase of a Discovery Pass, we’ll be entitled to 6 winery visits at select wineries in the Niagara Escarpment and Niagara on the Lake area. Each visit will include a dish paired with one of the new vintages bring released this year. It’s veryexciting.

Our tentative itinerary is as follows:

Wayne Gretzky Estates (Greatness in a Glass! | Celebrate and explore our new vintages featuring Estate Series 2007 Shiraz Cabernet and Founders Series 2008 Unoaked Chardonnay paired with culinary delights skillfully prepared by ‚ÄėThe Famous‚Äô Restaurant. Bon Appetit!)

Vineland Estates Winery (Do you Fondue? | Please join us to explore this social delicacy paired with rare vintage wines. A variety of pots will be presented including the irresistible truffle fondue. Our classic estate made sourdough bread will be the glorious base for this ‚Äúcheesy‚ÄĚ exploration.)

Flatrock Cellars (Twisted Tacos | Sit down and enjoy a summer moment with us. Taste our 2008 Twisted with a gourmet taco loaded with locally farmed pork and herbs blended with curry, shallot and lime juice. Twisted tacos- si!)

** Lunch at Ravine Vineyards **

Chateau des Charmes (Chardonnay Indulging | Indulge your palate with four Chardonnays all made differently from grapes grown on our vineyards: 2007 Chardonay Musqué, 2008 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay, 2006 Chardonnay, Paul Bosc Estate Vineyard, and 2006 Chardonnay, St. David’s Bench Vineyard.)

Inniskillin Winery (Pinot Noir Ros√© | Enjoy our summer inspired Pinot Noir Ros√© paired with a seared tuna and watermelon ceviche at our demo kitchen the Founders’ Hall.)

Konzelmann Estate Winery (Sauvignon Blanc Rocks when ‚ÄėSpring Rolls‚Äô into Summer | Experience authentic fresh Vietnamese Spring Rolls prepared exclusively for us and this summer‚Äôs smash hit Sauvignon Blanc. The wine‚Äôs bright refreshing acidity and zesty citrus high notes complete this summer‚Äôs sizzler.)

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Today was our second day dedicated to the Wine & Herb festival in Niagara on the Lake. The first day was described here. We drove down and arrived at the first stop of the day a little past 11am. Ou reservations for brunch were at noon so we were able to visit a couple of wineries prior to eating. It was a gorgeous day – sunny, 20+ degrees (Celsius), a perfect day to spend sipping wine and enjoying the scenery of wine country. ūüôā¬†

Winery #1: Konzelmann Estate Winery 

The pairing here was a 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve with Braised venison in thyme, Cabernet & Fig reduction with goat cheese scone. It was really good and a great start to the day! The meat was very tender and flavourful and brought out the fruitiness of the wine. And this must be the most adorable scone I have ever seen: 

 

We bought a bottle on the way out. 

Winery #2: Palatine Hills Estate Winery 

Here we enjoyed the 2008 Lakeshore Red paired with a Slider dressed with Rosemary BBQ sauce. This was awesome. The sauce was sweet and barbecuey enough without being overly so and the wine was fruity and refreshing. We also ended up trying a couple of other wines here and bought a bottle of Lakeshore Red and a bottle of the 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Brunch: Peller Estates 

At noon we stopped for brunch at Peller and it was quite good Рmore filling than we had anticipated. The scenery was gorgeous Рwe ate inside but they had tables outside and we could see how nice it would be once it was a tad warmer. 

 

 

We got to choose an appetizer, main dish and dessert ($40). There was an option to get the special wine pairings that went with our choices for an extra $15; 2 of us chose to do so (myself included) and 2 did not. For starters, three of us chose the Heirloom Tomato Carpaccio which was served with goat cheese and basil Рvery nice. It was paired with a Sauvignon Blanc which was lemony and fresh. The fourth in our group chose the smoked salmon which was also very good. That was paired with a sparkling wine that had some ice wine added in. 

For the main course, two of us chose the Omelette souffle (goat cheese, smoked salmon, asparagus). One chose the flank steak with the fanciest poutine I ever saw. And the fourth chose the capon with linguini. Everything looked really good. The wine pairing was an unoaked Chardonnay. 

For dessert, three of us chose the Hazelnut Marjoline with was a layered cake with chocolate dacquoise, hazelnut cream and chocolate ganache. The fourth chose the duo of mousse Рstrawberry mousse and white chocolate lavender mousse. The wine pairing was ice wine. 

Very tasty, very filling, beautiful setting. Onward! 

Winery #3: Peller Estates 

We enjoyed a 2008 Private Reserve Pinot Gris paired with a Lemon balm sweet cake.  I was so full from brunch that much of the afternoon was somewhat of a blur! Our group consisted of mostly red fans, and a lot of our stops had white selections. 

Winery #4: Reif Estate Winery 

The wine was a 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, paired with an Ontario buffalo mozzarella and basil pizza. The wine was a bit sharp for my liking but I’m not a Sauvignon Blanc fan so it could be very good, just not my cup of tea (or glass of wine).¬†

Each winery displayed their assigned herb in a pot like this one (basil).

 

 

Winery #5: InniskillinHere we enjoyed¬†a 2008 Pinot Grigio¬†with a Tarragon Ricotta croustade with oven dried tomato (although to be honest I don’t remember any tomato). The tart was a bit bland and the hint of Tarragon was so faint you really had to pay attention or else you may miss it.

Winery #6: Hillebrand

Cilantro was the herb assigned here and it was used in the Spring asparagus with garden cilantro pesto. It was paired with yet another white – a 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. The asparagus was very good and the pesto was very tasty but it was a bit difficult to scoop up the pesto with th stalks of asparagus.

Winery #7: Sunnybrook Farm

This is the winery that makes fruit wines and we were quite impressed with the 2009 Golden Plum wine.¬† It wasn’t too sweet and the fruitiness of it really paired well with the Curried cream cheese and chutney spread with a back pepper cracker. This was a surprising highlight – spicy, fruity and richness all in one. We purchased a bottle of the wine.

Winery #8: Maleta

Yum. We enjoyed a 2005 Grape Brain Cabernet paired with a wonderful Lavender Honey drizzled over Quebec organic aged cheddar cheese  on Ravine bakery artisanal wood-fired bread. All the components together made this a flavourful pairing. The sweetness of the honey mixed with the sharpness of the cheddar paired nicely with the fruitiness of the wine. Chris also tasted a merlot and a 2003 meritage (which we ended up buying).

 Winery #9: Ravine Estate Winery

 We enjoyed a 2007 Cabernet Franc paired with a Veal saltimbocca. This was our last stop of the day and we were all a bit peaked by this time!

Our loot!

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Today was Day 1 of our wine tour in Niagara on the Lake for the Wine & Herb festival (weekends in May). Our second day is planned for next Sunday and will include a brunch at Peller Estates along with visit to the remaining 9 wineries. 

We actually managed to visit 13 wineries Рwe did pretty good time. The wineries open at 11am and we got to the first one at about 11:30am. Most close at 5pm and we visited our last winery of the day at around that time. 

Here’s a recap – I apologize ahead of time for the lack of pics! I know, I know… I’ll try to remember as much as I can. ūüôā¬†

Winery #1: Ch√Ęteau des Charmes¬†

We had visited this one on a previous tour¬†and the grounds are really beautiful. This time, we enjoyed a 2007 Cabernet Franc which was paired with a Goat cheese tart with Oregano Marinated Grape Tomato. Very tasty! We bought a bottle of the cab franc – which was the first of many purchases. The goat cheese was mild and didn’t overpower the wine – and the classic mix of tomato / oregano / goat cheese was fantastic.¬†

Winery #2: Niagara College Teaching Winery 

This was the first time we visited this winery and it was very bright and pleasant. I loved the colourful wine labels and the staff that helped us were friendly and fun. We tasted a 2007 Unoaked¬†Chardonnay which was paired with a French Sorrel Vichyssoise¬†(chilled potato and leek soup with sorrel). It was actually quite tasty – I wasn’t too sure about the soup when I read it but was very pleasantly surprised. We bought a bottle of¬†the unoaked¬†Chardonnay – it was the first “unoaked” chard I had ever tasted and didn’t have the typical “oakey” flavour – I think I found a new calling. I really enjoyed it.¬†

Winery #3: Coyote’s Run¬†

This was our second visit to this winery. We tasted the 2009 Pinot Gris which was paired with  a spring vegetable paella with seared shrimp and saffron aioli. This was one of my favourites of the day Рit was very flavourful and paired well with the wine. We actually ran into one of the partners who works at our firm and had a quick chat. Small world! 

Winery #4: Southbrook Vineyards 

First time visit Рwhat a bright, airy and pleasant place! We tasted the 2009 Fresh White which was paired with a spicy gazpacho Southbrook Shooter. We bought a bottle of this one Рit was a bit sweet which was quite nice with the spicy gazpacho. 

Winery #5: Cattail Creek Estate 

This was our second visit. We tasted a 2007 Chardonnay Musque which was paired with an Asian wonton with lemon basil pesto. The pairing was very good and the staff has always been really friendly here. 

Winery #6: Pilliterri Estates Winery 

First time visit. This was the first place where we ran into a lineup Рthey were busy but we only waited a couple of minutes. We tasted the 2007 Merlot which was paired with a Double smoked bacon and chive cornbread cake with peppered merlot jelly. We also tasted a Sweet Red, which we ended up buying 2 bottles of Рit was just a bit sweet and very refreshing. The jelly was good and I could see it easily being served with pork loin. We also picked up some wine goblets (stemless) in the store. 

Winery #7: Joseph’s Estate Wines¬†

First time visit here as well. We tasted the 2006 Caroline Gamay Rosé which was paired with a Profiterole with parsley, tomatoes and goat cheese. The savory filling inside a choux (or cream puff Рwithout the cream of course) was very tasty. The staff was friendly and pleasant. 

*** Lunch break at Tim’s ***¬†

Winery #8: Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery 

First time visit –¬†what a beautiful building. You could smell the fireplace as soon as you walked in. We tasted the 2007 Gew√ľrztraminer¬†‘Grand Reserve’ which was paired with an arugula chevre tart. Very tasty – can’t go wrong with goat cheese. On the way out, we noticed that they offered a $5 cheese plate which looked very appetizing – definitely a must next time!¬†

Winery #9: Stratus 

First time visit. We tasted a wine called (no joke) 2006 Wildass White. It was paired with a Stone Road Grille smoked salmon on fennel slaw with creme fraiche. Everyone in the group really liked the salmon Рit was very good. 

Winery #10: Lailey Vineyard 

Again, first time visit. The wine we tasted was the 2008 Reisling, paired with Dill Spring Rolls. The wine was good, very bright and green. The spring rolls weren’t our favorite of the day, but they definitely tasted fresh or “green” and paired well with the wine. ¬†The key was to add the soy sauce to the spring roll which gave them some kick.¬†

Winery #11: Marynissen Estate Winery 

First time visit. This probably was one of our favourite stops of the day Рthe wine was the 2007 Solstice (blend of Merlot, Shiraz and Cab Franc) Рwe bought a bottle. It was very nice for a blend. It was paired with a fantastic Ragu Toscana served on focaccia. It paired very nicely with the wine and smelled and tasted amazing. The aroma as you walked in was just mouth-watering and once you tasted it, it did not disappoint Рfar from it! 

Winery #12: Strewn 

First time visit. We tasted the 2006 Cabernet Franc which was paired with a Three cheese and tomato pinwheel. They have a cooking school here which I thought was pretty cool. We also tasted the same Cab franc made into Sangria which was quite good and made us think to summer days on the patio…¬†

Winery #13: Stonechurch Vineyards 

First time visit. We tasted the 2008 Syrah Ros√© which was paired with a rosemary infused shortbread. The wine had an unexpected peppery flavour which was pretty interesting. Not a favourite just because I’m typically not a fan of ros√© wines.¬†

Here is a pic of what we purchased (no pic of the glasses yet): 

Our loot!

All in all, we had a great day and we’re already looking forward to next Sunday! ūüôā

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The herb dishes have been posted and we’ve planned our dates: May 8 and May 16. On the 16th, we’ll also be enjoying brunch at Peller¬†Estates. Can’t wait!¬†The plan is to visit half¬†on the first day and the other half on the second day.

Here’s the official list below. I’ve also highlighted the ones that look particularly interesting in green:

Cattail Creek Estate Winery

2007 Chardonnay Musque
Lemon Basil
Asian Wontons with Lemon Basil Pesto 

Ch√Ęteau des Charmes¬†

2007 Cabernet Franc
Oregano
Goat Cheese Tart with Oregano Marinated Grape Tomato 

Coyote’s Run Estate Winery¬†

2009 Pinot Gris/ Pinot Blanc
Saffron
Spring Vegetable ‚ÄėPaella‚Äô with Seared Shrimp and Saffron Aioli¬†

Hillebrand Winery 

2008 Artist Series ‚ÄėLimited Edition‚Äô Sauvignon Blanc
Cilantro
Spring Asparagus and Garden Cilantro Pesto 

Inniskillin Wines 

2008 Pinot Grigio ‚ÄėWinemaker‚Äôs Series‚Äô
Tarragon (French)
Tarragon Ricotta Croustade, Oven Dried Tomato 

Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery 

2007 Gew√ľrztraminer ‚ÄėGrand Reserve‚Äô
Arugula
Arugula Chevre Tart 

Joseph’s Estate Wines¬†

2006 Caroline Gamay Rosé
Parsley
Profiterole with Parsely,Tomatoes and Goat Cheese  

Konzelmann Estate Winery 

2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
Thyme
Braised Venison in Thyme, Cabernet & Fig reduction with Goat Cheese Scone 

Lailey Vineyard 

2008 Riesling
Dill
Dill Spring Rolls 

Maleta 

2005 Grape Brain Cabernet
Lavender
Lavender Honey Drizzled over Québec Organic Aged Cheddar Cheese on Ravine Bakery Artisanal Wood-Fired Bread  

Marynissen Estates Winery 

2007 Solstice
Marjoram
Ragu Toscana Served on Focaccia

Niagara College Teaching Winery 

2007 Chardonnay Unoaked
French Sorrel
French Sorrel Vichyssoise 

Palatine Hills Estate Winery 

2008 Lakeshore Red
Rosemary (BBQ)
Sliders Dressed with Rosemary BBQ Sauce  

Peller Estate 

2008 Private Reserve Pinot Gris
Lemon Balm
Lemon Balm Sweet Cake 

Pillitteri Estates Winery 

2007 Merlot
Chives
Double Smoked Bacon and Chive Cornbread Cake with Peppered Merlot Jelly 

Ravine Estate Winery

2008 Cabernet Franc Rosé
Sage
Veal Saltimbocca

Reif Estate Winery 

2006 Sauvignon Blanc
Basil
Ontario Buffalo Mozzarella and Basil Pizza 

Southbrook Vineyards 

2009 Fresh White
Basil Cinnamon
Southbrook Shooter  

Stonechurch Vineyards 

2008 Syrah Rosé
Rosemary
Caramelized Onion & Proscuitto Pissaladiere on a French Flatbread  

Stratus 

2006 Wildass White
Fennel
Stone Road Grille Smoked Salmon on Fennel Slaw with Crème Fraiche 

Strewn 

2006 Cabernet Franc
Bay Laurel
Three Cheese and Tomato Pinwheel  

Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery 

2009 Golden Plum
Curry
Curried Cream Cheese and Chutney Spread with a Black Pepper Cracker

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Remember zeess post?

Our passes arrived in the mail today.

Very excited.

And suddenly thirsty.

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