Considering the time of you year you’d think the harvest would long be over in the Niagara region but apparently not. I know growers leave grapes to freeze for making ice wine but figured everything else would already have been picked, put through the crushers and furiously fermenting.
Last weekend Lis and I were invited to Vineland Estates to take part in the wine club members event called “Bring Your Boots”. And believe me when I say that when we woke up Saturday morning I knew we weren’t going anywhere without ours. Not knowing if the event would be cancelled we decided to chance it and headed to Niagara.
There was already about a dozen or more cars in the parking lot and everyone looked ready to tackle the elements in order to pick the Riesling grapes from the club’s vineyard. But here’s the thing – it’s not that you can’t pick grapes in the pouring rain you just can’t harvest them because the water clinging to the grapes would dilute the wine when the grapes get crushed.
So what do you do with 50 or so captive wine lovers? Let them drink wine of course! Brian Schmidt the wine maker at Vineland brought everyone into the beautiful carriage house on the estate and regaled us with funny stories, interesting information about the wine making process and led a tasting that even included something called green wine. I’m far from an expert but as far as I know there’s red, white and rosé so what in the heck is green wine?
It’s not really a varietal or a colour but the word “green” translates into “young” as opposed to a mature wine. Brian told us drinking the wine like this was a German tradition that came out of harvest time and was often served with a zwiebelkuchen (onion pie or tart). He said they’re served together because combined they create a flavour explosion in your mouth, and he wasn’t kidding. We were told to have a sip of the wine, a small bite of our tart and another sip of the wine, which really just made you want more.
The wine itself didn’t look all that appealing since it was sort of cloudy but that’s because it was still going through the fermentation process and all the sediment had not settled as of yet. Had anyone else served me this wine I would have thought they were kidding but as part of Brian’s tasting lecture that day it was delicious and added another check mark to something I’d never tried before.
So if you think it’s too late in the year to head down to Niagara it’s definitely not…check out the tasting rooms, restaurants and in the case of Vineland there’s even an amazing cheese shop on the property. Go local and enjoy the flavours offered up not far from your front door.
My son Kevin, a hard hat diver stationed in Korea recently called to say he was being sent to Hamburg, Germany for some specialized training. Having not seen him in a year I quickly jumped at the chance to fly over and see him, figuring Germany was a bit closer than Korea. Also, being the city of my birth I was looking forward to seeing it again and reconnecting with some old friends.
Living in Korea where a good sausage is hard to find, Kevin was super excited to be heading to the land of wurst, schnitzel and beer. I on the other hand am not a beer drinker so I figured it was a good time to taste the wine of the Rhineland and went about sampling Riesling at every opportunity. Since I was only there for a week I didn’t really have the time to travel too far so a wine tasting tour was out of the question but I wasn’t too worried since most restaurants offered a fairly good selection.
A white grape variety that originated in the Rhine region of Germany it’s used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet and sparkling white wines. Seldom oaked they are among the world’s top 20 most grown varietals and often included in the “top three” white wine varieties together with Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc.
While my son attended his training program I spent the first few days wondering the city and found the street where I spent the first years of my life. It seemed only vaguely familiar but emotional none the less as it made me feel connected to my past and especially to my parents who have long since passed.
I walked for hours wanting to get a feel for the city and came across a wine store where I popped in to check out the selection and speak o the owner. She said one of the most popular Rieslings they sold was by J.B. Becker and that it was so popular she was actually sold out at the moment. I opted for a bottle of Kallfelz Riesling to try and since my son doesn’t like wine there was no reason to share this lovely find. Albert Kallfelz is actually the most widely decorated Riesling producer in all of Germany and comes from a family who has been producing wine for over 500 years.
Kevin and I had a wonderful time together enjoying the sights and sounds of the city. We did all the touristy things like taking the city’s double decker bus and taking the harbour tour.
The visit was much too short but Kevin’s hunger for bratwurst and beer had been satisfied and I was thrilled to have spent some quality time with my son who I had sorely missed. There’s definately a special bond between mothers and sons but I know my husband and Kevin’s brother also miss him so for next year we’re planning a half-way family gathering in Hawaii. It should be great fun having everyone together…sun, sand, surfing and more but do they have good wine in Hawaii?