From Sept. 20-22, the wineries of the Niagara Wine Trail will celebrate the beginning of the harvest season with their annual Harvest Fest Weekend event. As part of one of the most popular events for the trail, wine and food pairings will be featured at each participating winery.
Each participating winery has selected an item from a local food vendor to pair with its wines. Many of wineries will pair wine with seasonal favorites such as harvest-theme breads, fruits, desserts and produce. From sweet, to savory and spicy, there is something to delight every palate.
Some of the pairings and festivities include:
•Schulze Vineyards wine paired with The Wilson House's butternut squash ricotta sage crostini, which features Lakefront Roasted Olive Oil. Schulze will also feature live music by VARUNA on Saturday from 2-5 p.m. on its patio, and Winslow's Choice jam, oatmeal, cranberry and raisin cookies.
•Arrowhead Spring Vineyard will feature its LockPORT Red with harvest-themed pizzelles by Nando Silenzi.
•Black Willow Winery wines paired with open-faced smoked chicken won ton.
•The Winery at Marjim Manor's Katapalooza or Cranberry Crescendo wines paired with apple curry. Also, a Dove chocolatier will be at the winery with samples of savory mixes to go with dry white wines (Cat's Meow or Starlight) and chocolate pizza for sale.
•Victorianbourg Wine Estate will have a choice of one of three pairings: garlic bread with flavored olive oil dips (sun-dried tomato and Parmesan; Italian herbs; butter essence by Lakefront Olive Orchard) with a choice of Gruner Veltliner, Gewurtztraminer or Riesling; soft biscotti with Vika Verza; or cheesecake with "Chocolate Obsession" (biscotti and cheesecake by KM Treats of Lockport).
•Chateau Niagara Winery wine paired with "Gondolas" from the Wine Trail Italian Bistro (tomatoes, thinly sliced onions, a blend of cheeses with special sauce, rolled in dough and baked).
•A Gust of Sun Winery will have a harvest time pasta primavera made with butternut and acorn squash, onion, peppers, tomatoes, pear, cilantro, pasta and, of course, a little Sweet Westies white wine paired with Sweet Westies white. Recipe cards will be available. A craft fair will also be held on Saturday and Sunday.
•Honeymoon Trail Winery sweet wines paired with cheesecake.
•Midnight Run Wine Cellars featuring antipasti bite paired with Cabernet Franc. On Saturday, from 2-4 p.m., enjoy live music with Sawhorse Jackson.
•Eveningside Vineyards is pairing a chocolate or raspberry rugula (a Jewish pastry) with claret (dry red blend) or riesling.
•Spring Lake Winery will have a "Fall Fondue Party."
•Long Cliff Winery is featuring an Autumn classic: assortment of Homemade pumpkin, molasses and butterscotch oatmeal cookies from Carson's Deli & Bakery in Lockport paired to complement the notes of gingerbread and caramel in its 2011 pinot gris.
A full list of each winery's food pairing and additional featured activities may be found online at www.niagarawinetrail.org.
Advance tickets are $30/person and are available online through Sept. 18. Tickets will be available at the door of each winery during the event for $35/person. There is no charge for designated drivers or non-drinking attendees. Tickets are valid for all three days of the event and include wine tasting at each winery, one food sampling at each winery, and a commemorative wine glass from the starting winery.
Friday hours are noon-5 p.m.; Saturday is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday is noon until 5 p.m.
For more information, or to order tickets, visit www.NiagaraWineTrail.org.