Celebrating Niagara’s Grape Harvest

By: Lauren Charley

There is something divine about the peaceful scenery when cruising down long country roads, as the sun is setting behind a pink and blue sky, with a crisp breeze signifying summer’s end. Every autumn, locals and businesses from around the region come together to welcome tourists and host a celebration in recognition of what the Niagara Region is known for: its legendary wine country. The Niagara Wine Festival marks the annual celebration of the grape harvest and embraces the region for its local cuisine, music, arts and culture.

This year, the annual Niagara Wine festival is scheduled to take place between September 12 and 27. During this time there will be many events and activities hosted in various locations throughout the region, including the Grande Parade, festivities in Montebello Park, tours and tastings, and many opportunities to enjoy the fine culinary expertise of Niagara’s top chefs

61 season. What began as a singular fall festival, incorporated as part of the “Niagara Grape and Wine Festival”, has now expanded to three events, with the additions of the New Vintage Festival in June, and the Niagara Icewine Festival in January. All three festivals keep the spirit of wine alive in the region, embracing it as an important part of its history, identity, and culture.

The Niagara Wine Festival offers a number of attractions which the whole family can enjoy. Kids love celebrating the grape harvest through a selection of events such as parades, concerts, entertainment acts, and street parties.

The 64th Annual Meridian Grande Parade celebrates this year with the theme “Harvest Street Party”. During the procession, schools, businesses, restaurants, sports teams, and financial sponsors maneuver proudly through downtown St. Catharines, as they display their extravagantly decorated floats and glowing community pride. The parade this year will be held on Saturday, September 26 at 11am, as it jaunts along the traditional route beginning at Welland Ave and climaxing along St. Paul Street.

On the second and third weekends of The Niagara Wine Festival, Montebello Park’s “Center Stage”, in the heart of downtown St. Catharines, brings attendees a full roster of extraordinary Canadian musical talent. These musicians include popular, local bands and well-known Canadian tribute bands. The enjoyment of live music is accompanied by a selection of fine decadent foods and exquisite wines, offered by participating wineries and business vendors, set up throughout the park. Visitors will also find this a hot spot to find unique trinkets and treasures, sold by local retail boutiques.

FESTIVAL DISCOVERY PASS
Over the three weekends between September 12 and 27, the Discovery Pass is the ultimate way to maximize your experience of the legendary Niagara Wine Festival. With the $40 Discovery Pass, guests can enjoy a sampling of the exquisite local wines paired with its perfect culinary accompaniment, using the expertise of Niagara’s top chefs and viticulture experts. The pass includes a selection of eight “experiences” held at any of the 38 participating wineries in Niagara.
Each winery hosts a unique tasting with an original theme, where attendees can indulge in the best of both their culinary skills and winemaking expertise. At every establishment, the experts have worked carefully to pair their best wine of the harvest with a food that is both original and sensationally delicious. Guests can expect to try gourmet and exotic savouries like vegetarian white lasagna cupcakes and maple-smoked bacon pumpkin tarts, matched with the perfect wine to enhance the flavours of each delicacy.

PLANNING YOUR VISIT TO NIAGARA WINE FESTIVAL
Whether you are a local or a visitor to the region, Niagara Wine Festival is sure to provide an exciting way to savour the last of the warm and comforting summer months, as the season comes to an end and welcomes the fall grape harvest. Every year there are new wineries, businesses, acts, and events to be discovered, keeping the celebration fresh whilst keeping its proudest traditions.

To begin your research on this fantastic opportunity to embrace Niagara’s grape and wine industry, visit niagarawinefestival.com to start planning your itinerary!