Here’s to the beginning of another great wine season in Ontario.
And, step aside Elvis, the Beatles’ tribute gets back to Orillia and doors are opening wide in Oxford County for tourists and foodies.
Raising a toast
In the dwindling days of summer, Niagara’s winemakers are anticipating another great vintage.
“Smooth and rich” is the forecast given by 2012 Grape King Curtis Fielding as the renowned Niagara Wine Festival kicks off today and runs until Sept. 29.
“The aromatic whites this year will be superb and continued sunshine through August and into September will keep ripening up our reds," said the president of Fielding Estate Winery in Beamsville, Ont.
The festival has celebrated Ontario’s grape and wine industry for the past 62 years and includes winery tours, culinary seminars and a big parade.
The Niagara Wine Festival Discovery Pass ($40) is the ticket to eight wine and culinary experiences this weekend and the next two weekends through Sept. 29.
All of it makes for a “memorable party,” said Fielding whose winery has arranged a number of special events.
Fielding’s will be among the wineries pouring more than 100 varieties of Vintners Quality Alliance wines at Montebello Park in St. Catharines on Sept. 20, 21 and 22; and Sept. 27, 28 and 29.
Charcuterie with a View, through Sept. 29, offers a taste of harvest with the release of Fielding’s 2011 Cabernet-Syrah, paired with artisan-cured meats, baguettes and locally made mustard.
Sit on the deck and enjoy the view from the lodge across the vineyard to Lake Ontario and Toronto’s skyline.
A Harvest Kick-off Party on Sept. 21 is an afternoon of wine, treats from the Dirty South Food Truck and live classic rock.
Capping the events on Sept. 28 is “great cuisine” from Jonny Blonde’s food truck paired with Fielding’s 2011 Cabernet-Syrah.
One of the festival highlights is the Grande Parade on Sept. 28 at 11 a.m. in St. Catharines that attracts about 100,000 spectators.
The Fab Four tribute
They’ll be remembering the “British Invasion,” particularly the Beatles in Orillia on Sept. 20 and 21.
The seventh annual Orillia Beatles Celebration features “two jam-packed days honouring the Fab Four,” said marketing manager Darcy Hoover.
Downtown streets will be filled with Beatle and British-themed vendors, buskers, street performers, food stations and music, he said.
Night-time street dances will feature “top-notch Beatles’ tribute bands” and there will be a beer garden.
The Orillia Opera House has Beatlemania Revisited, a new Canadian-based international touring show that recreates the look, sound and excitement of the group’s live performances.
Over at the Orillia Museum of Art and History are free screenings of the recently re-mastered Rockshow, featuring Paul McCartney and Wings’ 1976 Wings over America Tour.
The D.A. Pennebaker concert documentary Sweet Toronto, featuring the first appearance of the Plastic Ono Band at Varsity Stadium, will be shown.
Fans can meet Brian L. Forsythe, author of Inside the Songs of the Sixties, Beatles’ artist Mark Rehkopf and view the films of Italian cinematographer Andrea Nevi and vintage instruments.
Say cheese in Oxford
Cheesemakers are among the highlights of Oxford County’s Open Doors’ event on Sept. 21 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The county is holding its own event apart from the provincial Doors Open program and offers 12 sites to tour, said Cathy Bingham of Tourism Oxford.
At its peak in the 1800s, there were 98 cheese factories in the county while amongst those today are three artisinal makers on the tour: Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, south of Woodstock; Local Dairy Products, Ingersoll; and Bright Cheese and Butter Manufacturing.
Other touring sites are Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum; Dairy Capital Cheese Shoppe; Woodstock Farmers’ Market; Birtch Farms and Estate Winery; Jakeman’s Maple Farm; Elm Hurst Inn and Spa; Coyle’s Country Store; Norwich and District Museum; Southwestern Ontario Draft Horse Club; and Just-a-Few-Fotos. 1-866-801-7368
Oxfordlicious, the “annual celebration of delicious local food” runs this month highlighting the best flavours in Oxford County.
Participating restaurants offer prix-fixe menus using ingredients from local farms and food producers, while retailers and farms are displaying their products.