The Sparkle and Ice Gala on Friday night celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Icewine Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, with all the glimmer and shine expected for such an occasion.
Set in the ball room of the Court House, icewine enthusiasts were treated to featured wines and icewines from participating local wineries, as well as icewine-inspired tastings offered by Signature chefs from area restaurants. The event was capped off with more icewine tastings when it moved outside to the Icewine Village, with a spectacular fireworks display to add to the theme of the night.
Have you ever had that feeling when you arrived at an event and just knew this is going to be good, that the night was going to be special? One look up at the Court House windows, and the sight of the faint blue glow that emanated from the second storey, was reassurance that this night was going to be a special night. Upon entering the building, the warm ambience of the glowing candles in the stairway set the mood for what was to come.
Upon ascending the stairs, guests were transported into a winter wonderland, complete with twinkling lights and layers of sparkling drapery, and interspersed with hanging snowflakes. White roses and snowflakes adorned the tables, while more snowflakes and sparkling ornaments cascaded from the branches of a spectacular white tree centre piece in the main room. Off in the far end of the room, the jazz stylings of local vocalist Juliet Dunn enhanced the elegant note of the atmosphere.
The room was filled with delicious aromas from the 10 participating Signature restaurants. Equipped with a glass, guests set out to smell, taste and sample what was on offer. Tables adorned with white tree branches, dripping with garland, were set around the room for guests to congregate and enjoy their icewine-inspired tastings and wine samples.
Locals and out-of-town guests wondered around the two beautifully decorated rooms, imbibing in sumptuous wines and spectacular food. Some locals well known to the community, such as Lord Mayor Betty Disero and NOTL Chamber of Commerce president Eduardo Lafforgue were in attendance, while the gala also welcomed guests such as Jamie Ching and Atsushi Kinoshita from Toronto, who were celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary. They heard about the event from the host of their bed and breakfast and were so pleased they decided to attend.
Area wineries uncorked their signature red, whites, rosés and sparkling wines and, of course a wonderful selection of icewines for guests. Just before 10 o’clock, the wine vendors began to don their coats, hats and mitts and moved outside to set up for the continuation of the celebration in the Icewine Village. Soon after, guests were invited to bundle up and head outside, where they were given a new icewine tasting glass carved from ice. The wineries began to exclusively offer tastings of their signature icewines, while event coordinators passed out gift-wrapped bottles of sparkling wine and icewine, and the crowd watched as fireworks shimmered in the night sky — fitting finale to an evening filled with sparkle and ice.
The Icewine Festival continues this weekend. Visitors can enjoy icewine from local wineries and icewine-inspired food tastings from local restaurants. Admission is free but wine and food samples are one token each. Glasses sell for $5 and tokens are $6 each. The village will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and is equipped with fire pits to warm yourself and ice sculptures to admire.