Mediaplanet: What makes Ontario wines so unique?

Kimberly Hundertmark: As this is the icewine season, let’s focus on that.  Ontario is the largest producer of the Canadian iconic product, icewine. Our microclimate provides us the perfect conditions to produce icewines each year. This uniquely Canadian wine has landed the Niagara wine industry on an international stage and has garnered global attention. The Festival itself provides a platform to experience Canada’s largest showcase of icewine, alongside incredible culinary pairings and events unlike anywhere else in the world.

"Ontario wines are internationally recognized for their value and cellaring ability."

Krystina Roman: The place: our wines are unique because each year they change due to our varying seasons. The people: we are passionate farmers that love our unique soils and terrain. Ontario is a cool climate grape-growing region, but if you draw a line to Europe, the wine regions of Ontario are located on the same latitude as Southern France, Northern Italy and Croatia. As a result of our cooler weather, we make awesome Riesling, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir,  Cabernet Franc and Merlot.

MP: What are your favourite local wine and food pairings?

KH: Personally, I love icewine with Canadian blue cheese. During the Niagara Icewine Festival, there are a few pairings that I know I will have to experience and they definitely include a blue cheese component. When you find that perfect pairing, it creates a moment in time that is special; it is a lifestyle and provides you a sense of place.

KR: Local food and local wine share the same soils, air and water, and as a result, they taste the best together — it’s really that simple. My favourite red wine pairings are Ontario-grown turkey or duck paired with Ontario Pinot Noir. The most unique pairing has to be Thunder Oak Gouda with Rosewood Mead Royale or Harvest Gold mead. Mead is the world’s first form of alcohol — it’s fermented honey — and made right here in Niagara from local honey.

MP: Why should Ontarians choose local?

KH: From an industry perspective the 2012 Grape Growers of Ontario industry report sums it up — and you can’t argue with numbers. 3.3 billion dollars is the total economic contribution of the Ontario Grape and Wine industry. On average, one bottle of Ontario wine generates $39.67 of economic impact in the province. And as a tourist destination, Ontario wineries welcome over 1.9 million visitors each year. Plus, grape production enhances the environmental beauty of the province and preserves our rich agricultural heritage. This is priceless.

"Local food and local wine share the same soils, air and water, and as a result, they taste the best together — it’s really that simple."

KR: Ontario wines are internationally recognized for their value and cellaring ability. We have three very different wine regions here in Ontario and most of them are about an hour from most cities.  A majority of wineries are open year-round and host events with top chefs, local musicians or local charities. Not only do Ontario wineries support local charities, but we create jobs, support local restaurants, farmers and businesses. Choose local because the wine is good and delicious, but also because we are your neighbours.