Wine and dine at Niagara’s Wine Festival

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September is here and fall is just around the corner along with all the new occasions that come along with it. It’s time to return from the carefree realm of summer to the hectic and exciting life of a student. While school is at the top of the priority list and it’s important to work hard, it’s also important to have a little funand not to the let your busy schedules bog you down. What better way to start the school year then heading to the Niagara Wine Festival with your friends? From September 13 until the 28 in St Catharines, located at Montebello Park, the festival has something for everyone and is worth participating in.

Wine culture is very important to the Niagara Region and we are fortunate to have the Niagara Wine Festival here annually as it’s Canada’s largest celebration of craft wines. This year St. Catharines will be celebrating its 63rd annual Wine Festival, and will be a two-week event that you do not want to miss out on. As always, the festival does an amazing job of offering exclusive food and wine pairings that appeal to just about anyone. There are over 100 events over the course of the two-week festival and includes everything from winery experiences across Niagara, educational seminars focusing on wine-making, a new wine-makers showdown, and the ever popular Grande Parade which takes place during the festival every year. Proper identification is required for the event but admission is free.

“Wine culture is very important to the Niagara Region and we are fortunate to have the Niagara Wine Festival here annually as it Canada’s largest celebration of craft wines.”

For those who wish to see what the Niagara Region has to offer in the wine sector, a discovery pass is just what you need. This pass includes eight wineries throughout the Niagara Region and gives you access to a tour and tasting at each one. At only forty dollars per Discovery Pass, it definitely makes for a reasonable day out for you and some friends. If the vine is your thing, then this is the perfect way to taste some local wines that you maybe didn’t know about; for those who haven’t had much experience with wine, this is the perfect way to expose your taste buds to some new flavours that you’re sure to fall in love with. Thirty dollar discovery passes are also offered to designated drivers who will have a chance to sample food at the winery as well as enjoy alcohol free specialty beverages.

Niagara Wine Festival 1

Another staple of the Niagara Wine Festival is the Grape Growers of Ontario Celebrity luncheon which always kicks off the festival. This year, Canadian athlete Rick Hansen will be speaking at the event. Hansen is a paralympian as well as a philanthropist for people with spinal cord injuries. According to the festival’s page, Hansen is seen as a “catalyst for change in society’s attitude, and a man dedicated to making a difference.” This event will be at Club Roma in St Catharines on Sept. 17, at 11:30 a.m.

The festival also never falls short of providing quality entertainment and musical talent in Montebello Park during the course of the festival. Both big name and local bands will be participating and makes for a lot of excitement in the heart of St Catharines. A full entertainment itinerary will be posted to the website closer to the event.

With all the merriment that comes with the food, drinks and spectacular events the festival has to offer, they also make sure you learn along the way. The festival will offer a seminar series called “educate your senses” that will take place on Sat Sept 20 and Sat Sept. 27 at 2 p.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Brock University will be contributing to the educational information that will be a part of these presentations, so you will have a chance to see what some of your peers and professors are up to in the world of wine. The series will focus on the worlds of wine and cheese and will be an interesting presentation you should take advantage of.

Another popular feature is The Harvest Lounge where guests can get away from the crowds for a bit while catching a glimpse of the entire park. Lounge guests have access to private washrooms, a private bar, food service and LCD screens featuring the main stage so you won’t miss any of the entertainment. Passes to the lounge are only ten dollars with taxes which makes for a cheap but relaxing meal and beverage, prepared by two of Niagara’s top chefs. The view from the patio is beautiful and definitely something you should do while the festival takes place.

Although the festival is focused primarily on the enjoyment and celebration of more adult beverages, the Festival comes to a close with an evening that the whole family can enjoy. The 63rd Annual Meridian Grande Parade will take place in the heart of Downtown St. Catharines. The parade is put on annually along with the festival to promote enjoyment and celebration for visitors as well as for the economic growth and development of the Niagara Region. The theme for this year’s parade will be “celebrating 200 years of peace” as the region recognizes the commemoration of the end of the War of 1812. The parade will take place on Sept 27 at 11 a.m. where over 100,000 people are expected to be watching as the festival comes to an end. As stated on the Festival’s website, “the Niagara Wine Festival aims each year to present a parade in conjunction with the Niagara Wine Festival that is entertaining, cohesive, creates a sense of fun for spectators and participants alike and provides a safe experience for all.”

The Niagara Wine Festival is truly an original of its kind and by going to school in the Niagara Region I would highly recommend taking advantage of the event and enjoying all it has to offer. It is something different to enjoy and can create memories for years to come. It’s a good opportunity to experience one of the most important cultures in the Niagara Region and it’s a great excuse to escape from the books if for only a little while. Maybe you have yet to acquire a taste for wine but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t grasp the opportunities of being in Niagara and the events it has to offer. With the Niagara Ice Wine Festival coming up shortly after there’s something to look forward to all semester. Make sure to be as touristy as possible and soak in the sights, sounds, tastes and smells the festival will feature. Enjoy!

For a full list of events and more information on times and prices, visit niagarawinefestival.com

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