Since I’ve moved to Niagara, I’ve done a lot of the winery passport programs.
I started to do this as a way to familiarize myself with all the wineries, get a flavour for what they offer, stock up my wine rack, and have a great afternoon out.
To this day, those are still some of my motivations for participating.
I’ve had a couple of people ask me if I ever get bored of doing this. The answer, quite simply, is no. The reason is that each time I do these programs, I always discover something different. For me, it’s not just about the food and wine pairings, though those are consistently good. It’s about the whole winery experience.
And that’s what I’m going to talk about today. This time, I’m not just going to give you a recap of which food and wine pairings I liked the best, I’m going to talk about my top highlights from Get Fresh in the Valley this year. Things that stood out to me, good experiences, and wines I discovered.
Here we go. These are not in any particular order.
First, let’s talk about Creekside. I know, I’ve talked about them in several posts lately but there are lots of good reasons why. First, the wine. I honestly don’t think I’ve had a wine there that I haven’t liked. Second, the staff. They are knowledgeable, friendly, and just make your experience there all-around great. Josh helped me out again for this visit, and I felt like I was greeting a friend. A friend who happens to know a lot about wine. And pours it for me. And gives me tasty food to go with it. All good ingredients for friendship, right?
He took us down to the Wine Cellar, which was where they were serving their Get Fresh pairing. The separate area was great for this event. It let participants enjoy the sample at leisure, ask questions, and check out the atmospheric wine cellar. The pairing was very good, for me mostly because of Creekside’s delicious Cabernet Rosé. As I was telling Josh how much I loved the Cabernet Rosé, he suggested I stop by the tasting bar on the way out and try their 2016 Pinot Noir Rosé too.
Well, I’m sure you can guess what happened. I loved them both, so I bought bottles of each. It’s Rosé season, what else would you expect me to do?
Now I have to tell you about a big surprise. I actually bought some Riesling.
We stopped at Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery to sample their pairing, which was a savoury Korean pork taco, matched with her 2015 Baco Noir. I stopped at the tasting bar afterwards, as I particularly wanted to try her sparkling, which I’d heard good things about. As I sampled, I decided those good things were true, so imagine my surprise when she told me it was sparkling RIESLING.
Now, I know Ontario produces some highly acclaimed Rieslings. I’ve tried many over the years, but for me, it just wasn’t my grape. I’m having to rethink that a bit now.
Perhaps I’m just very choosy when it comes to Riesling.
Spurred on by my first Riesling success, I also tried her Loved by Lu Riesling, which I enjoyed as well. So much so, that I bought some.
For the first time, Ken saw me approach the cash register with Riesling in my hands.
I think Brix approved.
Next, I’m going to tell you about Redstone.
Redstone had one of my favourite pairings for the event – a Fried Shrimp Slider with Buttermilk Ranch and Iceberg Slaw. It was so yummy. And you know what else? It was matched with their 2013 Limestone Riesling, which I enjoyed too. Yes, another Riesling!
But as tasty as that was, the best part was the fabulous tasting that Meagan gave us. She was super attentive, knows a ton about wine, and was oh-so cooperative at starring in my Instagram stories. I came home with some of their Rosé, a beautiful 2012 Chardonnay, and a splurge bottle of their 2012 Syrah. Totally worth my extravagance, as this is one dreamy wine.
Thanks again for all your help, Meagan.
Since I already mentioned that Redstone’s pairing was one of my favourites, I’ll tell you what my other top pick was too. Though there were lots of good ones to choose from during Get Fresh, I have to say there was a tie for my absolute favourite. It was between Redstone and Di Profio.
Di Profio’s offering was Oven Roasted Lemon Chicken with Tzatziki on an artisan bun, matched with their 2013 Sauvignon Blanc. There was just something about this pairing – it was bursting with lively, fresh flavours that seemed to represent the essence of Spring. It was delicious.
You may notice that the drink in the photo above doesn’t look like Sauvignon Blanc though. Well, that’s because I was too busy drinking it. So Ken took the photo with his designated driver selection, which was a Sparkling Pineapple Spritzer.
Which brings me to my next highlight. Some of you might know that Ken is always my designated driver, as he doesn’t drink. The poor guy is a bit neglected at some of the wine events we attend, where pretty much all he gets offered is water. In this day and age, I personally think that’s unacceptable. We all know how important DD’s are, so I’m on a bit of a crusade to try and help them have more festive options at wine events.
I am so happy that both Get Fresh in the Valley and Wrapped Up in the Valley give great attention to mocktail pairings too. I also loved that some of the wineries explained with great care why they chose the mocktail that they did, emphasizing that the flavours in it were similar to what the wine had, and how they were both a great match for the food.
Big kudos to Get Fresh for this. And I hope other wine events catch on to it too.
Finally, I’ve got to mention the magnificent Prize Pack. If you purchased two bottles of the wine that was part of the featured pairing at a winery, you could enter your name in a draw for a prize pack. Now, this prize pack isn’t just like any other. It contains a bottle of wine from each of the wineries who were a part of Get Fresh in the Valley! That’s over twenty bottles of wine!
This worked perfectly with my plans, because I’m always buying some wine at these events. But get this – you could enter once at each winery that you made a purchase at. So, I got at least a few entries in. Keep your fingers crossed for me. If I win, I’ll hold one heck of a winetasting party.
Doesn’t that sound like a great idea??
And to top it all off, there was the weather. Now, of course I know Get Fresh wasn’t directly responsible for the weather, but in the interest of good event planning, perhaps they put in a good word with Mother Nature.
Whether they did or not, it sure made our travels through Twenty Valley Wine Country even better.
Get Fresh in the Valley is still running this weekend, April 29th and 30th, and I hope you’ll have a chance to get out there and find some highlights of your own.
Buy lots of wine to have a chance to enter for the Prize pack, and if you win, make sure to invite me to your big winetasting party, okay?
**I was invited to attend Get Fresh as a guest, but all opinions are completely my own.