What better way to finish off a tour of the Niagara region, than a wine tasting session at a local winery. Lakeview Wine Co is a local producer and retailer of a speciality, ice wine, a sweet dessert wine. Ice wine, or Icewine (Eiswein, German,) is produced using only grapes that have frozen on the vine during the winter frost, only then can they be used in the production of ice wine. This type of wine production is a risk for the growers, since they may loose a whole crop if the frosts don’t come early enough, before the grapes rot on the vines. The frozen grapes are harvested at night while they are still frozen, they have to freeze to at least -7c /20f before they are quickly harvested, enough workers need to be on hand at very short notice. Frozen grapes are so delicate and can easily be popped during the harvest, losing the sugary concentrated grape juice, the all important content.
The grapes will be pressed to release all the concentrated sugars whilst they are still frozen when the grapes are frozen, it’s only the water that freezes, leaving behind only the sweet concentrate and without any bitterness in the final taste of the ice wine. A proportion of the harvest will be lost due to rot or by popping during the delicate harvest process. Every vineyard crop is a gamble for ice wine producers, and as such, many wine producers prefer to grow a less risky crop. It takes many more grapes to produce each bottle of ice wine than it would in the production of most other wine varieties, making it much more expensive to produce per bottle. Canada and Germany are the world’s main ice wine producing countries, 75 percent of the ice wine produced in Canada is from Ontario.
Our tour of the Niagara region continued, with a pre-arranged wine tasting session at the Lakeside Wine Co. As our tour arrived, we were met and greeted by a member of staff at Lakeview wine co and led through to the outdoor wine tasting area, which was under a lovely shaded canopy. This was quite welcome too, in the heat of the Canadian afternoon sun after traveling on the comfortable, air conditioned tour bus.
Our very knowledgeable wine tasting guide talked us through the ice wine production process and how the local grapes are harvested at night in the winter months after a good frost, as mentioned above. We were surrounded by the scene of vineyards all around us as far as the eye can see. A beautifully relaxed setting. Our small group had gathered around and each guest given a Lakeview cellars, Gewürztraminer, white ice wine, to taste. The depth of flavour is like no other, it’s rich, fruity and oh so sweet, (almost twice as sweet as cola.) With only 10 – 20% of the syrupy grape juice, after the hard, frozen grapes are pressed and going into the final process of fermentation, is it any wonder to find such, delicately balanced and smooth flavoured ice wine, which I found refreshing yet, ultimately exciting the taste buds in a way I’d not expected. I usually would go for a very dry wine, so was pleasantly surprised how much the ice wine appealed to me, it was rich and fruity, even maybe a little honeydew melon and peach on the nose. But it’s a joy to enjoy on the tongue, a deep, sweet, flavour sensation, a fruity burst with a smooth sweet finish.
Secondly our group had a taster of the red ice wine, 20 Bees Cabernet Franc, again, another surprise for my taste buds. The aromas on the nose were berries and I got gooseberry aromas. The flavour was, wowing me, with deep sweet coulis and a smooth finish. I’m no wine tasting expert, but I know what I like. There’s no taste like it, and it really does need to be tasted to be appreciated.
On returning inside, at Lakeview Wine Co there were plenty more delights to choose from in store. Special offers available in store and online. Lakeview wine co sell some of Ontario’s top-selling wine brands, including EastDell, 20 Bees, FRESH, Lakeview Cellars, McMichael Collection, Seasons, Canadian acting legend Dan Aykroyd’s line of wines as well as the top-selling kosher wines Tzafona Cellars.
Personally I could not have had a sweeter, more pleasant finish to our tour of the Niagara region, and my daughter enjoyed the experience too, though she didn’t taste the wine, she too, found the whole wine production process very interesting, neither of us knew about ice wine, or the arduous process of getting it from frozen vine, to bottle until our inspiring and delicious visit. Canada has been wonderful, through and through. We had a blast at Anime North, in Toronto a thrilling time at Niagara Falls, then relaxed at niagara-on-the-lake, before being delighted by the most sweet and tempting wine at Lakeview Wine Co. A trip of a lifetime, with so many wonderful memories!