We have focused quite a bit on wine-related articles lately. I have another one for you but with a much different twist. You see, our focus is not entirely on the wine itself; our focus is snowshoeing.
An odd pairing, right? How does snowshoeing and wine go together?!
I typically associate snowshoeing with snow, sweat, and chapped lips; I associate wine with relaxing, friends, and putting my foot in my mouth at some point (which is much harder to do with a snowshoe on, I admit).
Sticking these two items together seems contrary but a few weeks ago when Dan noticed that Thirty Bench Wine Makers was doing just that, he signed us up.
Never having slipped my feet into a pair of snowshoes, the idea was somewhat daunting. There are some of us that embrace the unknown and dive into new experiences. I am not that person. I research, train myself, and fully prepare for experiences as though there may be a test afterward. Just jumping into snowshoes without a practice run or history was kind of scary. Dan, having been snowshoeing many times, did not share my concerns.
I needn’t have worried. Thirty Bench and their snowshoe expert took me under their wing and gently guided me into the fun world of snowshoeing.
However odd the combination of wine and snowshoeing struck me at first, I have to say that the two activities do go together beautifully. This was largely due to how it was organized.
Janine Hunink, Wine Consultant for Thirty Bench Wine Makers, was our lovely guide for the tour. Our group started at the winery itself and wove around the vineyard with several stopping points along the way. At each break we were given a taste of a different wine and discussed tasting notes, food pairings, and the specific vines we gathered around.
We were discussing wine while wearing snowshoes. What a wonderful representation of Canada and Niagara in a single event.
About halfway through the tour I began to really enjoy myself. I found the less I focused on worrying over the fit of my snowshoes or walking technique, the better I was. Moving around became easier and I was really able to take in the experience.
I want to point out that this wasn’t just an adult-only event. Our group had a handful of kids being pulled behind on sleds or trudging the vineyard in snowshoes along with us. Thirty Bench even went an extra step by pouring sparkling juice for the kids. As a family-friendly day out, everyone felt included no matter the age. This is a great thing to experience as many kids are left behind when parents visit wineries. Niagara’s vineyards are an integral part of our agriculture and community and children should be able to experience that.
Our tour wrapped up back at the winery for a warm cup of soup paired with another delicious glass of Thirty Bench wine. Janine encouraged us to venture back out into the vineyard if we were interested in picking fallen vines for our grills. What a unique way to flavour meat!
We experienced a beautiful winter day with the perfect opportunity to embrace it. As a bonus, Thirty Bench Wine Makers has made me a fan of snowshoeing. I now look forward to owning my own pair of snowshoes and plowing through glittering fields of white. And who knows, maybe I’ll bring a bottle of wine with me!
As a special treat for everyone, Janine has a couple of recipes to share with suggested wine pairings.
Chocolate Pepper Mousse
w/ Strawberry Red Wine Syrup
Serves 4 – 6
1 Cup red wine
1 Tbsp fresh ground pepper
3/8 Cup sugar
1 pint fresh strawberries (Some thinly sliced and some for garnish)
In saucepan bring wine, pepper and sugar to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Strain through a paper coffee filter. Add sliced strawberries and let cool for at least 1 hour.
10 chocolate wafer cookies (Christie’s or Dare)
250ml (small container) whipping cream
3 heaping teaspoons of icing sugar
½ a brick of cream cheese (4 oz)
2 dashes of salt
½ Tsp a freshly ground pepper
- Crush wafers finely and set aside.
- Whip the cream (when soft peaks have formed add 3 heaping teaspoons of icing sugar and continue whipping until firm peaks have formed).
- Soften cream cheese and add salt
- Fold together half of the whipped cream, cream cheese, pepper and wafers.
- Let stand at least 1 hour.
- When ready to serve, fold in remaining whipping cream and place in parfait cups.
- Spoon in 2 to 4 tablespoon of the red wine syrup, and garnish with remaining strawberries.
Thirty Bench 2000 Benchmark Pinot Noir
Roasted Pumpkin & Chickpea Salad
½ Medium pumpkin (peeled and cubed)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for roasting
1 Cup chickpeas
2 Tbsp shredded coriander or mint
½ Cup crumbled feta cheese
½ Cup sundried tomatoes
½ Cup red wine vineyard
3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
- Roast pumpkin in oil for 40 minutes. Remove and cool to room temp.
- Heat tomatoes and vinegar together over low heat until just simmering.
- Blend remaining vinegar ingredients together with tomatoes and vinegar in a blender. Slightly chunky texture is OK.
- Toss all ingredients together and serve at room temperature.
Thirty Bench Back Vintage Limited Yield Semi Dry or Semi Sweet Rieslings (any vintage)
Thirty Bench Wine Makers
Want a truly unique, Canadian experience this winter? Then join the Thirty Bench team for a Snowshoe trek through our Riesling vineyards! Local Snowshoe experts will teach you tips and best trekking methods while our Thirty Bench wine consultants guide you through samples of Thirty Bench wines amongst the snow covered vines. $30 per guest, exclusive of taxes. Includes snowshoe rental, guided trek, wine tastings and a warm cup of chowder, courtesy of Tide & Vine Oyster Company. Limited space so reserve your snowshoes today! To reserve your spot, BOOK NOW, call 905-563-1698 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Please be advised that if there is no snow on the day you arrive, we will still proceed with your experience. Instead of snowshoeing, we will be hiking in the vineyards. Also, please arrive 15 minutes prior to the 12 pm or 3 pm start time.