Views from the Ontario Vines

with Fred Couch

Get Fresh in Twenty Valley 2017

A sure sign of spring is the annual Get Fresh in the Valley wine and food event. Spring was in the air at the 23 wineries participating this year.  Each winery served a food dish with a matching VQA wine.  As an added bonus, each winery handed out a recipe card featuring the dish they were serving.  At the end of the weekend, you will have a complete Get Fresh recipe book of the delicious food that you sampled.  Tickets could be purchased for one of three weekends in April or a pass could be purchased for three Sundays. 

Our first day started at the Watering Can Flower Market in Vineland.  While I was taking photographs, my wife made this lovely spring arrangement for a $5 donation to hospices in Niagara.

Over the weekend, we were able to visit 20 of the participating wineries.  There was everything from “soup to nuts” – literally and everything in between. 

We divided the wineries into Twenty Valley East and Twenty Valley West.  Our first winery stop was at Rockway Vineyards were they were serving a caramelized pear and gorgonzola puff pastry paired with a 2015 Late Harvest Vidal. The food and wine paired very well with each other.  The gorgonzola was actually quite mild and not strong like I was expecting.  By the end of the day, we declared this one of our favourites.

Three wineries were serving soup.  At Harbour Estates Winery we had a “Loaded” Potato Soup with green onions, sour cream, cheddar cheese and bacon bits on top.  The wine was a 2014 Riesling with a taste of citrus and peach. 

At Vineland Estates Winery we had a Miso broth with pulled ham hock, shiitake mushrooms and chili oil.  The wine that went with the broth was a 2015 Chardonnay Musqué.  I always love the way some people describe a wine so I will repeat the notes on this wine:  “Given its inner duality, this wine naturally dances with the finesse of ballroom while at the same time gripping you with the raw energy of steps more contemporary.  This vintage moves to its own beat and inexplicably gets you to the dance floor swaying in the rhythms unknown”.  Wow, are we talking about wine or “Dancing with the Stars”?

Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery always has one of the best presentations at these events and this year was no exception.  Chef Matt Hemmingsen provided the recipe for this delicious asparagus soup with C’est Bon goat cheese and spring truffles.  Matching asparagus with a wine can be very difficult.  A tannic red or an oaked Chardonnay just won’t go.  The 2016 Wismer Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc was a perfect accompaniment to the soup with just the right amount of acidity and rich flavours to complement the soup.

When I saw the colourful display of Rosé wine at Creekside Estate Winery I had to take a photo.  The wine being served for Get Fresh was the 2016 Cabernet Rosé (100% Cabernet Sauvignon).  This extra dry wine went really well with the ricotta bruschetta tart.  The event was taking place in the wine cellar at Creekside.  When we arrived the cellar was crowded so we took our food and wine to the outside deck and enjoyed the warm spring sunshine.

We always enjoy our visit to Kacaba Vineyards.  Whenever possible, the employees try to give each customer a one-on-one experience even at a popular event such as Get Fresh.  The pairing offered was the 2016 Susan’s Sauvignon Blanc with Thai chicken breast served over a fresh Asian-inspired salad of arugula and Thai basil.  I don’t eat chicken but my wife said it was delicious.  The dish was prepared by Zooma Caters and they were kind enough to provide me with the salad without the chicken to try with the Sauvignon Blanc. 

Another pairing that we really enjoyed was at Vieni Estates Wine & Spirits.  The food was “Penne allo Zafferano e Asparagi”.  The translation:  penne pasta with saffron (infused olive oil) and asparagus.  The dish was completed with red and green bell pepper flakes and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. The accompanying wine was the 2016 Pinot Grigio. 

Besides Rockway, two other wineries were serving a sweet dish to go with the wine.  Aure Wines offered red wine cupcake bites with cherry swirl icing.  The wine was their 2011 Reserve Pinot Noir.  Calamus Estate Winery (above photo) served a tasty toffee brownie blanc with a crème caramel drizzle matched with the 2016 "Crackle" effervescent - a blend of Vidal, Pinot Gris and unoaked Chardonnay.

I mentioned previously that we had everything from “soup to nuts”.  Our second last winery of the weekend was at Angels Gate Winery where we received the “nuts”.  They served a spring salad with strawberries, goat cheese, candied PECANS with a strawberry balsamic dressing.  The wine that was paired with the salad was the 2014 Pinot Noir that, surprisingly, matched very well with the salad and dressing.  

We really enjoyed this year’s Get Fresh in the Valley.  Of the wineries we visited, there were no disappointments.  The food samples were, in most cases, ample size and a lot of thought was given to the food and wine matching.

For more information on the winery members of the Twenty Valley Tourism Association and future events visit the website at

Photos by © F.G. Couch            

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