Whine without the 'H'
It's that time of year again and oh what bliss it brings!
This morning finds my love and I bound for Niagara wine country on our annual pilgrimage in celebration of The Shaw Festival, wine and our life together. These excursions began not long before we were married in 1975 and have continued almost annually since then and always timed around our anniversary.
The planning begins with the arrival of the Shaw brochure. I peruse it off and on for several weeks before finally settling on which plays to see and how to fit them into four days. Then the tickets are booked and the hotel reservations made some time in early May.
This year we're taking in The Intelligent Homosexual's Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to Scriptures (Tony Kushner) - the title alone is almost an act of its own! - The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt (M. Bouchard), The Lady from the Sea (H. Ibsen) and we end with Peter and the Starcatcher (R. Elice). There is nothing like live theatre!
August is for taking stock of the wine cellar. The current inventory reveals that we're down by 94 bottles. How can that be I wonder? Must have been cold winter...
Next I spend a few more hours, reviewing wineries and wines, selecting the ones we will visit and the specific wines we want to taste at each winery. This is a much tougher job than it used to be thirty or so years ago when there were maybe a dozen wineries in Niagara. Today there are 84 according to VQA Ontario.
But we have our favourites, a stable of about 12 (and growing). We cycle through them over the years, visiting 8 or so each season. We are not just tasters but serious buyers who love the smaller wineries. It is not unusual for us to truck home 7+ cases of reds and whites, most of which are only available at the wineries. But this year we are going to cut back...
Yeah, well we say that every year. Here is our record of "cutting back" from past years:
2009: 75 bottles purchased
On the way to Niagara-on-the-Lake today, I'm looking forward to priming the pump with two wineries: Cave Spring Cellars which we missed last year and Henry of Pelham where we've not been in several years. Tuesday we can be found checking out the Beamsville Bench appellation with stops at Angel's Gate, Thirty Bench, and one or perhaps two others yet to be decided.
The rest of the week is a mix of theatre and wineries and there's no shortage of cellers around Niagara-on-the-Lake. Oh and I'm looking for somewhere new too.
Already I can smell the grapes and hear the cannon shots that keep the birds away.
And did I mention the food?? Ah well that's pretty special too!
It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it!
©2015 April Hoeller