Views from the Ontario Vines

with Fred Couch

“Wrapped Up in the Valley - 2018”

This year 23 wineries participated in the Wrapped up in the Valley event. A one-price pass is good for one of three weekends or for all three Sundays during the event. Designated drivers can purchase a reduced price pass to participate in the food pairing without the wine. A “mocktail” or another non-alcoholic beverage was offered instead of wine. A new feature this year was a holiday-inspired recipe booklet which could be picked up at any of the wineries visited. In past years a recipe card had to be picked up at each winery to put together a recipe book. Many people commented that they liked the booklet much better.

Food and wine pairing highlights:

Harbour Estates Winery: This was a perfect pairing for a cool, windy day when we visited the winery. A creamy butternut squash soup topped with a drizzle of sour cream was served with the 2014 Riesling. The dry wine with hints of honey, ripe lime and other citrus fruits went well with the creamy soup.

Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery: We always look forward to going to Sue-Ann’s winery during this event for the grilled cheese sandwiches. This year was no exception. The sandwich: “Miz Lula’s Peach State Gourmet Grilled Cheese (Niagara Style)” with caramelized onions and topped with a peach & bourbon preserve. The 2016“Loved by Lu” Riesling was the perfect complement to the food. It’s semi-dry with a nice balance of acid and minerality.

Vineland Estates: This had to be one of the best food presentations. It does help when you have two chefs from the Restaurant at Vineland Estates on hand to prepare the dish. This year’s pairing was a pork belly taco with the 2017 Unoaked Chardonnay. The ingredients for the taco included slow roasted pork belly, avocado, radish, chili, harissa emulsion and cilantro cress on a taco shell. The accompanying wine was a lighter Chardonnay with flavours of melon, apple and pear.

Redstone Winery: This was another perfect food for a cool, autumn day – double smoked bacon & caramelized onion “mac ‘n’ cheese”. The 2013 Chardonnay went very well with dish. The wine was barrel fermented and aged in French oak for 12 months using grapes from select Beamsville Bench vineyards.

 Sweet pairing highlights:

Three wineries offered a sweet food pairing this year. I have a sweet tooth so I really enjoyed them all!

Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery: Pumpkin spice cupcakes with a butter cream icing were served with the 2016 Gamay Noir Estate wine. The only negative comment I heard about this pairing was that the cupcakes were “too big”. For me, this wasn’t a problem. When I first read what the winery was serving, I expected a mini cupcake. However, these were full sized and homemade by one of the winery staff. She told us that she had made 400 for the weekend event! I wouldn’t have expected a red wine would go with a sweet dessert but the Gamay was a good match with fruit driven flavours of cherries, raspberries and blueberries accented with oak spice. Yum!

Calamus Estate Winery: Another decadent pairing was offered at Calamus. They served a triple chocolate brownie with crispy bacon bits and a wine and strawberry drizzle. Red wine is usually a good match with dark chocolate and the 2017 “Balls Falls” Red went very well with this sweet dessert. The wine is a blend of mainly Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Fielding Estate Winery:Since Fielding is close to our home, we saved this visit to the last. To cleanse our palette from the various food and wine pairings of the day, we had a sample of the non-vintage traditional method Sparkling Brut. We then tried the pairing of a dark chocolate, sea salt and caramel “blondie” with the 2017 Rock Pile Red (a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec). I didn’t know that a blondie was like a brownie but vanilla is substituted for cocoa used in traditional brownies. Large chunks of dark chocolate as well as caramel baking chips were used in the recipe. Again, because of the dark chocolate, the red wine went very well. This was a double yum!

This year’s version of Wrapped up in the Valley was very good. Unfortunately, because of a car breakdown, the food didn’t arrive at Vieni Estates but they made it up to us by letting us try two wines – the 2015 Pinot Noir and the 2016 Chardonnay. For more information on the wineries and other events in the Twenty Valley go to:

For more photos and food & wine pairing descriptions go to:  

          Photos by © F.G. Couch            


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