Thursday, June 16, 2022

Wine Weekend

O
, Canada! Thank you for being there after all these months and months and months of separation! The Things About You We Love Best were all still there, almost exactly as we had left them. It felt so very good to be back.

The last time we were in Canada--in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, specifically--was well before the pandemic. In the ensuing months/years, our wine cellar dwindled sadly, and we missed all of our friends. Each time we drank the last bottle of a particular wine from Canada, we sighed wistfully, wondering how long it would be until we would be able to go back.

An invitation to Big Head Wines' (our favourite winery) New Release party on 5 June showed up in my email late in May. Rick and I had been to their last big party back in 2018, before Covid made such things impossible. We researched travel requirements for driving to Canada, Rick got the time off approved for a quick jaunt north, and we RSVP'd happily that yes, we'd be there. They kindly booked a tasting for us the day before the party. 
They know us so well.

Our stay would be short--arriving Saturday and leaving Monday--with the party on Sunday afternoon. We decided that we wouldn't try to cram a lot of stuff into the abbreviated weekend, but instead focus on relaxing, reconnecting with friends, and good wine. So we did all of those things.

After some lunch and a nice walk on Saturday, we headed to the winery where we were enthusiastically greeted by all the Big Head family. We were led to our tasting bar, and although we were supposed to have tasted with another staff member since the family were all busy getting ready for the party, Andrzej (owner, winemaker, and my Canadian husband) insisted upon doing it himself. As he always does. 


This is always wonderful for Rick and me because we not only taste wines that are still in tanks and barrels, we also learn so much about how he makes wine. Even if you're not Wine Nerds like us, it's fascinating to hear about his decisions and methods (which include making wine in concrete, terra cotta, and Slovenian oak, among other vessels). We also got a sneak preview of wines that were being released at the party. 

Sunday was Party Day, but before that, we were able to reconnect with a friend of ours of many years. She dropped by our inn after breakfast for some catching up, and we had a nice chat on our private balcony. The weather was nothing short of perfect the entire weekend, and we spent a lot of time out there, sheltered by a redwood and bamboo, among other shade givers.

We made sure we were on time for the Release Party because we knew there would be a big turnout. Its guest list is usually about 500-700 people. The winery, already big and airy, had all its doors open and there were canopies set up outdoors. New wines were being poured in appropriately shaped glasses--not a fragment of plastic anywhere--and samples of all their offerings were also available at tasting bars strategically placed. 

And the food! It was catered by Treadwell's, a sustainable farm-to-table restaurant/caterer. It was delicious and smart:  mini porchetta on focaccia sandwiches, frites with garlic aioli, house made soppressata on focaccia, honey soy glazed pork belly, bbq beef cheek sliders, wild mushroom toasts, and probably more. But I could have eaten nothing but that pork belly all day. And every day. 

As it often happens, we met many truly nice people at the party and had some great conversations. Some were about wine, some were about Big Head and their new winery, and of course, some were about the state of the world. Many were about the state of America and its politics. As to the latter, they expressed support and pity, and they hoped that we'd get our collective shit together because it's concerning. I assured them that we are trying and that we more than share their concern.

Our one stop on the way home Monday was to pick up our...several cases of wine and say our last goodbyes to Andrzej and family. At the border we declared our haul and, after a bit of eye rolling and sighing, the agent justified our cargo by referring to our Pandemic Dry Spell and saying we were grandfathered in. Both traffic and our hearts were light on the way home.

Getting back to Canada and our friends was an Unexpected Joy. I am already looking forward to a return trip. If you click the link above for Big Head, you can meet my International Husband, his family/our friends, and read about some of the wines we experienced and bought there. I wish you could have come with us. 

24 comments:

  1. Sounds like a GREAT weekend. Hope you'll get to do it again before summer is over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dee--It was a perfect getaway weekend entirely. I think we might wait until autumn to go back up and avoid the more touristy summertime crush.

      Delete
  2. Oh ENVY and JEALOUSY - nasty words, but so appropriate here. Your international husband is a handsome guy!! I have not heard of this wine. Most likely PA with its antiquaited laws does not sell it. Pity. Sounds like a fabulous time and I'm so glad you could come home with cases and the customs guys were understanding!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vera--Niagara-on-the-Lake is such a lovely place, and there are dozens and dozens of good wineries there, not to mention incredibly good professional theater during the Shaw Festival. It's well worth a visit; I know you and Fletch would love it.

      No, you won't find any of the wines here in the US except possibly the rogue ice wine here and there. Ohio, trying to boost its own wine industry, won't allow Ontario to ship wines in, either. So we happily make the trip up to restock.

      Andrzej is never more handsome than when he's talking passionately about his winemaking, unless it's about his home country of Poland. Honestly, I could talk with him for hours.

      Delete
  3. How great that you were able to make it to Canada. Sounds like it was long overdo. Love that your international husband made sure that he was at your wine tasting. I've never been to a vineyard, etc. is it wrong that I take all of my wine tasting knowledge from the hilarious movie 'Sideways'? Glad they let you cross the border with your haul.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ernie--I love the movie "Sideways." My favourite part is when Virginia Madsen talks about wine being a living thing. It's so poetic and so true.

      Our visit really was long overdue, as you say, and even though it was, everything soon slipped into that comforting familiarity one finds when reconnecting with old friends. It was like putting on a pair of soft pajamas at the end of a tough workday.

      Delete
  4. I'm sensing your joy as I read this. What fun. That's all there is to, simple fun that we've all put on hold for these last years. Enjoy your wine-- and your memories of a relaxing getaway.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ally--So true. It was a joyful and simple weekend. Years ago, we'd have tried to cram in a few other winery visits, but not these days. Two factors were at work there: 1. Ontario's pandemic restrictions require advance bookings for tastings, so no walk-ins ; 2. we were determined to use the weekend to relax, period. I'm glad we kept things streamlined and focused on what made us happiest.

      Delete
  5. Oh, that sounds like so much fun! Glad you got to go and reconnect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jean--It was. Despite the fact that we didn't do a whole lot or spend a great deal of time there, it was a terrific weekend. We couldn't have asked for better.

      Delete
  6. So glad you were finally able to get back to Canada, replenish your wine supply, enjoy new wines and bask in the comfort of reconnecting with old friends. Sounds like a dream getaway! Out of curiosity, where do you store all those cases of wine? I am guessing in the basement if you have one. Does it have to be temperature-controlled during hot weather? —You can tell I know zero about wine storage, lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ortizzle--Rick built a separate wine room in our basement. The temperature stays cool and controlled there because it's well underground. He built a huge rack that takes up one wall entirely, and we store the bottles there. The small window is covered so that no light gets in. It's not a humidity- or vibration-controlled environment, but since we don't store wine long term or have legacy bottles, it's fine for us.



      Delete
  7. Oh, Nance - that sounds like an absolutely wonderful weekend! I'm so glad you got to go and enjoy it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gigi--It truly was. Everything was perfect. It was just what we needed. Thank you for sharing my Joy.

      Delete
  8. I'm not a wine drinker, but that weekend sounds amazing! I would have loved every minute of it. So happy for you & Rick!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bug--Even if you didn't drink wine, you'd have loved the relaxation, the food, the perfect weather, and the overall ambience of restful joy. I'm aware that those two words seem a paradox of sorts, but that's exactly what it was. We're still feeling the satisfied contentment of that trip even now.

      Thank you for sharing our joy. We are looking forward to our return, probably in October.

      Delete
  9. Wonderful! Glad you could make the trip to Canada, visit the winery and all your friends, plus bring home your supply.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Joared--Oh, it was truly wonderful that we got to do all of those things!

      Delete
  10. First of all, anytime you can go to Canadia, life is good. But then add wine on top of it - PERFECTION!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Bridget--Agreed! We love Canadia, period. Getting wine to bring home was the bonus of the weekend.

      Delete
  11. I think I am back. So glad you got your weekend and lots of bottle.!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary--Computer problems are so frustrating. I hope yours are indeed done with.

      I'm glad we had our weekend and wine haul, too. Thanks for sharing my Joy.

      Delete
  12. I'm sorry I'm late to the party and this post! Just this morning I realized I hadn't seen anything from you...mostly because my blog feed page has been down for a while and I didn't realize how much I relied on it. I popped over and as I was reading this post, I got a wordpress notification that you left me a comment. HA. We were visiting t the same time ;)

    I'm SOOOO happy that you both were able to get back to your beloved winery, friends and of course your Canadian husband! It sounds like the perfect getaway to reconnect with your people and of course YOUR WINE. 😳 I would have been up in arms getting low on my favorites.
    I'm gonna go check out their website; they must be huge (and good) if they have 500 people to a party.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Suz--You've been busy; I knew you'd get around to me sooner or later.

      We hadn't been to Canada since before the pandemic, so we weren't low--we were out! We'd been slumming and drinking domestic for more than a year. It was rough (LOL).

      They're a small winery but they have a loyal following in the Niagara region. Their wines are served in lots of restaurants, and they have a great wine club. And, of course, their wines are incredibly good. I wish they shipped, but we definitely don't mind going up there to resupply.
      It was a perfect weekend, and we enjoyed every single moment of it.

      Delete

Oh, thank you for joining the fray!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...