This year’s celebration of ice wine kicks off later this week, and will look a little different from previous years.
Six wineries are participating in the Ice Wine Trail this year, running throughout the month of April.
Cask 307, Debonne Vineyards, Ferrante Winery, Grand River Cellars, Laurello Vineyards and South River Vineyards will be participating in the official event.
Cindy Lindberg, president of Grand River Cellars and the coordinator of the event, said that things are being done very differently for this year’s event.
In past years, the festival has taken place on three weekends in March. This year, the celebration of ice wine was moved back a month, and will take place throughout the week, instead of being limited to weekends.
“We, along with all the other wineries, have opened up our outside patios, so if it is even remotely nice out, guests will be able to sit outside and enjoy their samples of wine this year,” Lindberg said.
Guests are being encouraged to take advantage of the festival running on weekdays, Lindberg said.
Participating wineries will have wine samples and paired appetizers for $6, with $1 from each purchase donated to area food banks.
The wineries have worked hard to craft appetizers that fit well with their ice wines, even for those who are not fans of sweet wines, Lindberg said.
Appetizers from the wineries include apricot-pistachio cracker toasts with whipped cream cheese and hot honey at Debonne, peach apricot ricotta pursette at Ferrante, Asian bourbon meatballs with sesame sees and white balsamic marinated cucumber slices at Grand River, creamy cheese with savory bacon and sweet dried figs at Laurello, red maple rum brownies at South River, and a pistachio gelato crunch sundae at Cask 307.
Many of the wineries are also selling items from local businesses.
Grapes for ice wine are left on the vine to freeze, then are harvested and pressed while still frozen.
Mary Jo Ferrante, of Ferrante’s Winery and Ristorante, said she is hoping for a smooth, safe experience for everyone. Ferrante’s will have a special lunch and dinner menu for the event, she said.
Loretta Todd, manager at Debonne Vineyards, said they are participating in a progressive dinner with Cask 307, Grand River Cellars, and nearby Red Eagle Distillery on April 9, 16, and 23. Debonne has also planned cocktail mixing classes.
Todd said Debonne has worked hard to make sure that people are not pressed to visit on weekends. A recent event had good turnout during the week, and the winery is hoping for a similar result for the Ice Wine Trail, Todd said.
Donna List, manager of Cask 307, said the winery has scheduled a live opera night for April 13. List said she hopes the event promotes the area, and educates people about ice wine.
Gene Sigel, owner of South River Vineyard, said the festival is usually well-attended. “I don’t know what to expect this year.” Sigel said. South River has different types of ice wine than other wineries in the area, including a concord grape ice wine, he said. “I think people are going to be presented with some unique styles of ice wine,” Sigel said.