The weekend of September 7 thru 9 saw 12 wineries, and approximately 12 restaurants, get together to celebrate The Shores of Erie International Wine Festival ... what they lacked in size they made up for in fun and frolic - what a wonderful time.
The setting is Historic Fort Malden in Amherstburg, Ontario, overlooking the Detroit river; and while I wouldn't jump in for a swim, the scenery, especially the sunsets (that set off colours of purple, orange and red) and the big ships passing by, made for an ideal setting to share a glass (or bottle) with friends and complete strangers ... who soon became fast friends. I shared a bottle of Merlot with some tough-looking biker-types from Lasalle (very close to Amherstburg I was told), who were not only some of the most wonderfully congenial wine lovers I have spent time with - but they were serious enough about their wine to bring their own glassware (Riedels, Spiegelau, Ravencroft, etc.).
On the wine scene, old guards like Carlo Negri, of Colio, poured his bold and brawny ’02 CEV Reserve Merlot to great acclaim, alongside new kids like Colchester Ridge, who’s Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot is wonderful to sip and savour. Restaurants served up everything from soup to nuts, egg rolls to decadent desserts, vegetarian fare to carnivore extravaganzas.
Chefs and guest speakers, of whom I was one, gave demonstrations and lectures to interested, small (about 50 people) on-lookers … while the bands on the main stage played cover tunes from the likes of Steely Dan, John Mayer, R.E.M. and countless other musical icons.
30 minutes of heavy rain Saturday afternoon forced people to take cover under the tents – where winemakers and restaurant staff made them feel welcome with more wine and food while they waited out the downpour. When it was all done, and the rain was just down to a spitting, all emerged to head back to the benches and grass to resume the party.
This annual event is sure to continue – I was very glad, not only to attend, but be a part of it. Next year, may I suggest making the trek down to enjoy this wonderful, fun-filled event, which will be celebrating year number 3 … bigger and better I’m sure.
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