Views from the Ontario Vines

with Fred Couch

Welcome to the Ontario wine reports with Fred Couch who lives in the heart of Canada's world renowned Niagara wine region. He is an Executive member and Treasurer of the Ontario Wine Society - Niagara Chapter a not-for-profit group of wine enthusiasts operated largely through volunteer time


Get Fresh in Twenty Valley - 2019


Seventeen wineries participated in this year’s Get Fresh in the Valley wine and food event. Each winery served a food dish with a matching VQA wine. Tickets could be purchased for one of two weekends or a pass for Sundays only. This year, the event went green. In the past, ticket holders would receive a hard copy of a recipe which they could make into a recipe book. This year, all passport holders received a downloadable version of the recipes.

To promote responsible drinking and driving, there was a limit to the number of wineries you could visit in one day. Designated drivers could participate in this event and were offered a “mocktail” or a non-alcoholic alternative. As suggested, we decided to split the wineries up over two days - first visiting those in the Twenty Valley East and the next day, those in the Twenty Valley West.

Highlights of the event in Twenty Valley East:

13th Street Winery: 2017 Burger Blend

13th Street Winery: 2017 Burger Blend White, Red or Rose paired with a delicious brisket burger with herbed mushroom and Gruyère Mornay sauce. We each tried a different wine so we could compare the wine with the burger. They both were good but I preferred the Burger Blend Red which went well with the brisket.

Harbour Estates Winery:

Harbour Estates Winery: 2016 Harbour Sunrise (a Vidal and Chardonnay blend) with brie, pear and apple wine jelly Panini. This was a very tasty combination. The Chardonnay in Sunrise was a perfect match for the cheese.

Hernder Estate Wines: 2012 Cabernet Franc with sloppy Joe sliders.

Hernder Estate Wines: 2012 Cabernet Franc with sloppy Joe sliders. With the burger at 13th Street and this sloppy Joe, we certainly didn’t need lunch. The portion was quite generous and the spices in the dish went well with flavours of the wine.

Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery: 2017 Fancy Farm Girl Flamboyant Red

Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery: 2017 Fancy Farm Girl Flamboyant Red (Cabernet Franc-Merlot blend) with Espresso Cabernet S’mores. For those who have visited Sue-Ann’s winery on other passport events, you will know the winery is famous for its gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. For Get Fresh she has decided to change it up a notch with this delicious s’more. This recipe consisted of melted Cabernet infused dark chocolate and espresso marshmallows on an almond biscotti wafer. The red wine was delicious and complemented the dark chocolate.

 Highlights of the event in Twenty Valley West:

Fielding Estate Winery:

Fielding Estate Winery: 2017 Red Conception (a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec) with California and Avocado Sushi Roll. Pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce was served on the side. The matching wine for the sushi was a 2018 Sauvignon Blanc but they offered a red wine as well which we chose.


he Good Earth Food and Wine Co.: 2016 Big Fork Red

The Good Earth Food and Wine Co.: 2016 Big Fork Red served with pulled pork on a bun and house made pickles. This was one of my favourites. The BBQ sauce with the pulled pork was not overpowering and went really well with the red blend.

Kacaba Vineyards and Winery: This was one of the most interesting pairings. The filling for the crêpe was a combination of béchamel sauce, onion, leek and chopped smoked ham. Two toppings were offered with a matching wine. You could choose a savoury Gremolata topping (parsley, fresh garlic, lemon, olive oil and sea salt) served with the 2016 Susan’s Sauvignon Blanc. The other choice was a semi-sweet salsa topping (black cherries, balsamic vinegar, thyme and clove or nutmeg) served with the 2016 Cabernet Franc. We both chose the salsa topping and it went perfectly with the red wine. Thanks to Zooma Caters for this delicious recipe.   

Vineland Estates Winery: 2017 Pinot Meunier Charmat Method Sparkling paired with a white chocolate cheesecake with passion fruit curd and coconut crust. What a way to finish off this year’s Get Fresh event! Traditionally, Pinot Meunier was one of three grapes used for Champagne and sparkling wines. However, for years, Vineland Estates has used this grape in producing a stunning red wine. For the 2017 vintage, the winemaker decided to go back to tradition and made a delicious sparkling wine. The saying goes that sparkling wine goes with any dish and this pairing was no exception. The wine complemented the flavours of the white chocolate, curd and coconut. It was a dessert that you want to say “more please”.

We really enjoyed this year’s Get Fresh. 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. The addition of an online recipe book was a real bonus.

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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