WOLFVILLE, NS - Visitors are getting to enjoy the celebrations in a brand-new venue this year and the hosts couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome them.
Lightfoot and Wolfville Vineyards hospitality manager James Smith said they are very excited to be hosting the Nova Scotia Icewine Festival for the first time. The festival runs on Feb. 24 and 25 and again the following weekend, March 3 and 4.
“It’s a really great festival, it’s a great event in the calendar year here in the Valley and we’re just happy to be a part of it,” Smith said. “I think it’s exciting to showcase what we can offer from a beverage perspective here, particularly wine in Nova Scotia and to show off our great house wine as well.”
Being a relatively new winery, Smith said the festival is a great way to introduce visitors from across the province and beyond to Lightfoot and Wolfville’s facilities and products.
“I think icewine particularly is something that can be misunderstood, so I think that it’s really great to be able to show people a couple of options that we do so well here,” he said.
Smith said there are eight Nova Scotia wineries are represented at the event, as well as a couple of cideries, and they have special guest mixologist Will Irvine of Bar Kismet on hand. He said the wineries are holding tastings of their icewines and other wine varieties and the cideries are also holding tastings.
Culinary programs are a big part of what wineries do and Smith said showcasing this also plays a big role in the festival. There are several chefs on hand demonstrating their culinary talents. There’s also an opportunity for visitors to make wreathes with grapevine canes.
A ghost walk is being held every day of the festival. Smith said the ghost walks are pre-booked and they were almost sold out.
Smith doesn’t think that warmer than average temperatures and a lack of snow will have much impact on the festivities, although they weren’t able to go ahead with snowshoe walks as planned.
“It would be nice to see a little snow on the ground for this festival but it’s not dampening anyone’s spirits here,” he said. “There’s still three more days for the festival to go so who knows what’s going to happen for those.”
This was Smith’s first icewine festival and he said he’s having lots of fun. They sold nearly 300 tickets for Feb. 24 and sales for the other three days have been strong.
“It’s great to be able to showcase our venue and our wines but I think it’s really great to be a part of this experience for those 300 guests,” Smith said. “They’re having a great time and are in great spirits and it’s just good fun.”
Greg and Pat Bezanson of Hantsport were among the hundreds of visitors enjoying the festival on Feb. 24. Pat said they met an old friend who they hadn’t seen in ages, which was unexpected, and they were enjoying the icewine.
“It’s really wonderful to see so many people turning out for it, more than we expected actually,” she said. “I think it’s a big success by the looks of things.”
Pat said she thinks it’s great having a festival to celebrate the province’s burgeoning icewine industry. It gives people a chance to sample products and learn more about area wineries.
Greg pointed out one way that the festival helps the local economy. They met one young couple from Halifax who came for the event and planned to spend the night, taking advantage of local accommodations.
The festival’s main event runs from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. each day and encompasses wine and food pairings, cocktail samples and a bon fire. At an additional cost, there is a wood fired country stew and raclette.
For $35, each visitor receives 14 tokens that can be redeemed for wine or food samples, a ticket to enter a daily draw for 10 bottles of wine and a custom Icewine Festival tasting glass to take home.
Tickets can be purchased online at https://nsicewinefest.com/collections/2018-icewine-festival-tickets.