It is now time for the 13th Annual Ice Wine Festival in the Grand River Valley Wine Region located in Northeastern Ohio. During the first three Saturdays in March, five area wineries come together to celebrate this golden nectar otherwise known as Ice Wine, that can only be made in certain parts of the world. These wineries have also won top honors in international wine competitions for these ice wines making them some of the best produced in the world.
The festival consists of five area wineries all within a 10-minute drive of each other. Patrons begin at the winery of their choice for this fun, progressive Ice Wine tasting throughout the Grand River Valley wine region. Participating wineries include Debonné Vineyards, Ferrante Winery & Ristorante, Grand River Cellars Winery & Restaurant, Laurello Vineyards, and St. Joseph Vineyards. Making this event a progressive tasting is one of the reasons the event is such a draw. Patrons will have a unique experience at every winery and will be able to see different sights around the area. Many wineries have added “extras” for people to enjoy. Some of the extras include special wine dinners, ice carving, dog sledding, food demonstrations and several artisans. Most of these “extras” are free but some will cost the patron a small additional charge. In addition, many of the winemakers will be on hand for people to talk to and other wines will be available for people to taste.
Ice wine is one of the wines that require extreme temperatures in order to produce. With the weather being so radical the last couple of years, the grape growers have had their concerns. “It has been a rough couple of years for these grapes and with the warmest December on record, I was glad to see the cold weather come to freeze the Ice Wine grapes. I would never think of saying that after the last two very cold winters”, says Nick Ferrante, owner and winemaker for Ferrante Winery. Art Pietryk, owner and winemaker of St. Joseph Vineyards looks on the bright side, “Another cold winter in 2015 damaged some of the buds on the sensitive vinifera wine grapes and reduced the crop. The good news however; with a reduced crop load the grapes ripened early and were of exceptional quality.”
The wines featured at the Ice Wine Festival are ‘true’ ice wines. The grapes are left on the vines at the end of the traditional harvest season and await Mother Nature to shift seasons from fall to winter. Once the grapes are truly frozen, and the temperature reaches 17 degrees or less, the grapes are picked and pressed immediately before they have a chance to thaw.
Out of town guests will be sure to want to check the local visitor’s bureau websites for places to stay the night. Since the Ice Wine Festival is in March, many of our hotels and restaurants are able to give top-notch service because it is a slower time of year and are able to offer wonderful amenities and are much less crowded.
Participants will need to determine a starting point at one of the participating wineries in the Grand River Valley. Each winery will provide a sample of their wines, an ice wine glass, and a complimentary appetizer. The event begins at noon and ends at 5 p.m. The cost is $6 per person at each winery. In an effort to help the local food banks, the wineries are encouraging everyone to bring in canned food items for which they will receive $1 off at each location. For more information about the Ice Wine Festival call 440-466-3485 or visit click here for more details.