Getting Fresh in the Valley

One of the best things about living in wine country is – well, the wineries.

As a longtime winelover, it is a dream to have so many fantastic wineries minutes from my house. Nothing to do on a Tuesday afternoon? Let’s stop at a winery! Truly one of the best perks of living down here.

Not only is it a treat to visit on a regular day, but there always seems to be something happening at the wineries. So far this year, we have had the Icewine Festival, and the Days of Wine and Chocolate. Now, for three weekends in April, the wineries of the Twenty Valley are hosting Get Fresh in the Valley. Get Fresh is a great way to celebrate the arrival of spring, with delicious wine paired with seasonally inspired food. At each location, you also receive a printed recipe card, so you can collect the recipes and make them at home.

The wineries of the Twenty Valley are a little bit further away from me. About a  half hour drive, I would say. Which is nothing – half an hour’s drive is really only a few minutes to an ex-Torontonian.

So last Sunday after our guests checked out, we headed down to Twenty Valley.

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We started at Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery. I love that the winery is on her family’s 200 year old estate.

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Sue-Ann is one talented lady. She was acclaimed as “2002 Winemaker of the Year” by the Ontario Wine Society and is a two-time recipient of the International Wine and Spirits Award in London, England for one of the top four “Women in Wine” in the world.  Very impressive, indeed. She makes some fabulous wine, and is also very down to earth and lovely to chat with as well. I was lucky to have her help me with some wine tasting while we were there.

But first I should tell you about the Bacon Salad.

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I am truly sorry about this picture. You see, Ken and I were so excited to eat this bacon salad, that we dived into it without taking a picture first. This is one of the cardinal sins of blogging. Mea Culpa.

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But it was so good, that I will happily take the blame. This was perfectly matched with 2013 Baco Noir.

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Then I decided to head out into the tasting room, to sample some other wines.

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Ken was the main photographer that day, and while I tasted, he took photos. He neglected, however, to mention to me the amazing sounding chocolate truffles pictured above. Baco Noir Ganache? Yes, please! I hope there are some of these still left at the winery.

But I was too wrapped up in winetasting bliss, that I didn’t notice them. Till I got home, that is.

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I stuck with whites, and loved them all. The 2011 Sparkling & Sassy Riesling makes me happy just thinking about it. The name alone makes me smile, and sparkling is such a festive, cheerful drink. For me, a great sparkling is not too sweet or too dry, and it is not over-bubbly. You know what I mean? I’ve had some sparklings in the past where all you get is a mouthful of bubbles. Sparkling & Sassy Riesling has the perfect amount of effervescence. The flavour is delicious too. I also loved the Pinot Grigio, and the Baco Noir and brought some home with me.

We also discovered that there are some pretty cool events in the works at Sue-Ann’s. Details will be coming on their website very soon, so keep checking.

Next, we were off to Di Profio Wines.

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Their pairing was a Curried Chicken Sandwich, with their 2013 Pinot Grigio. If you are ever looking to score brownie points with me, give me anything with curry. Oh, and wine of course.

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This was yummy. I will definitely make this myself. An easy recipe, and would make a delicious lunchtime sandwich.

Then it was time for yet more winetasting. Di Profio makes a beautiful Sauvignon Blanc, and I really loved The Kitchen Zinc – beautiful tropical flavours, perfect for summer sipping.

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I was thrilled to learn that The Kitchen Zinc is a perfect pairing for plain Lay’s potato chips. Though I could probably have chips with just about any wine and be quite happy.

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Our final stop for the day was to be Vineland Estates Winery.

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Vineyards as far as the eye can see.

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Vineland’s offering was a Smoked Whitefish Taco Pico de Gallo, with Pickled Cucumbers and Creme Fraiche. It was extremely tasty, and what a beautiful presentation.

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One other terrific thing about Get Fresh is that they have put a real effort on the Designated Driver options. Ken doesn’t drink (I know, you are wondering how the heck he ended up with me, right??) and whenever he comes to these events he usually just gets offered water, if anything really. How exciting is that? It is great to see an effort being made for non-alcoholic options at these events. Just because you don’t drink alcohol doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a great drink too. So every winery for this event has created a special Mocktail. Extra kudos to Get Fresh for this.

And as if we hadn’t had enough to nibble, we were offered an extra tasting up in their Market Shop.

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Vineland is one of the first Ontario wineries I discovered, back in the 90’s. It has changed a lot from those days, and it keeps getting better. The wines are spectacular, and they are particularly known for their Rieslings. The Restaurant also offers wonderful food, and a beautiful view.

I unfortunately only had one afternoon to attend Get Fresh, so I barely scratched the surface. There were lots of tempting pairings to choose from. This is the last weekend the event is running, so click here for information about tickets and such.

Let me know which pairings you try!