For three Saturdays in March “ice wine groupies” will swarm to five area wineries in Northeastern Ohio, in the heart of the Grand River Valley Wine Region, to taste the next vintage of ice wine. Lovers of this golden nectar wine will come from all over the state of Ohio and neighboring states as well. It’s a celebration of a labor of love and a unique wine that can only be made in certain parts of 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 featuring local meats, cheeses and vegetables, 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.
“I love having the consumer down in my cellar so they can taste these wines”, says Cindy Lindberg, event coordinator and president of Grand River Cellars Winery. “Being down there among the tanks and barrels gives you a true understanding of a working wine cellar. Many other wineries have patrons in the cellars tasting wine as well as roasting ice wine marshmallows, or relaxing and looking at juried crafts while sipping on their ice wine. It’s an opportunity to get out and embrace the cold weather and have a great time doing it.”
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. This year’s harvest was December 12th during the very early morning hours. The harvest was one of the biggest in history as the grapes were still well formed and hearty.
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 visitwww.debonne.com for a list of details.