Along the wine trail on Niagara-on-the-Lake is the Ice House.
We were biking along for about 11 miles along the Niagara River and we passed the Ice House. We vowed to go to the ice house on our way back after our furthest point, which involved going down, and then back up, a very big hill, just before we reached the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge.
That way, the Ice Wine Slushie would have been something well-earned on a hot July day.
First, the Ice House is set on a beautiful vineyard. Okay art history buffs, what artist do these photos remind you:
We locked up our bikes, hugged the Ice House Polar bear for luck:
and went inside to learn about how ice wine is produced. Actually, because we live in the Finger Lakes New York region, we have knowledge of ice wine, but it’s worth learning – and tasting – more than once.
Ice wine is growing in popularity and the Finger Lakes and the Ontario wine region produce the highest number of award-winning ice wines in the world. Wineries in colder regions take advantage of frigid temperatures by leaving grapes on the vine in the winter, and then quickly harvest and crush them while the grapes are completely frozen. This concentrates the flavor into a sweet but not syrupy wine that is not just for dessert but can be paired with food. I’m not going to botch up the facts of how it is produced, and why it is more expensive than other wines, you can read about that here.
Here is a photo of an Ice House employee bottling the micro batches of wine produced at the winery:
But now, to the Ice Slushie.
Now forgive me, but being the typical American girl that I am, this is what came to my mind when our inn proprietor first informed us of the Ice Wine Slushie:
I know, right? Unnatural colors. Big – at least 16 ounces. So how am I supposed to drink something made out of a concentrated wine THAT size and get back on my bike?
But no. In reality, the ice wine slushie, a 3-oz. drink was just enough to refresh and not intoxicate. For $10, my husband and I shared three different types of ice wine, paired with different snacks like chocolate, pretzels, and spicy wasabi peas to bring out their different flavors.
No, we did not plunk down the $50-75 for a bottle of ice wine. But the tasting, and the slushie, made this the most memorable stops on our day of biking and tasting. And in the future, if we have something special to celebrate, we’ll be sure to pick up a bottle.