ADVERTISEMENT

LEWISTON – The Niagara Wine Trail USA offers a one-stop shop to sample the products provided by 17 participating wineries, as well as associate members, at its annual Wine and Culinary Festival. This year’s festival is planned for noon to 7 p.m. July 26 and noon to 6 p.m. July 27 in Academy Park.

The festival gives wine-lovers a chance to stroll from booth to booth, sampling and purchasing bottles of wine. Each festival ticket includes three tastings at each of the participating wineries, and tickets are valid for both days.

“Shane and Erik Gustafson (owners of A Gust of Sun Winery) are the organizers of this event this year and they have a beautiful, ambitious drive for this event,” said Ann Schulze, whom along with her husband, Martin, owns Schulze Vineyards and Winery, another event participant. “This is a beautiful venue. Academy Park is the perfect spot. Free parking surrounds the park, it’s tree-lined and it’s really comfortable. The ticket is a real deal, too, and it’s good for both days.”

Other participating wineries this year include: Arrowhead Spring Vineyards; Blackbird Cider Works; Vizcarra Vineyards; Niagara Landing Wine Cellars; Long Cliff Vineyards and Winery; Midnight Run Wine Cellars; Flight of Five Winery; Lake Ontario Winery; Leonard Oakes Estate Winery; The Winery at Marjim Manor; Spring Lake Winery; Victorianbourg Wine Estate; Eveningside Vineyards; Freedom Run Winery; and Chateau Niagara Winery.

Music will be provided by a deejay and free educational and cooking seminars also will be offered throughout the weekend.

“We’ll have demonstrations of cooking with wine and pairing wine with food,” said Shane Gustafson. “We’ll also have a ‘stump the wine expert’ and a wine trivia contest, where people can win some Niagara Wine Trail-related prizes.

“Something new this year is the ‘Culinary Court,’ where all of the food vendors will be located,” she added. “We’ll have them all in one place to make it easier for people to find them and to make their decisions. We’ll also have more covered seating and just more seating, in general.”

Gustafson said more food vendors have also signed on for this year’s event, including new restaurants and a handful of food trucks offering everything from seafood to “paleo” selections, which shun processed ingredients.

Items may be purchased directly from local vendors participating in the festival, offering everything from gourmet sauces and ribs to hand-crafted chocolates, and from olive oils and balsamic vinegars to nuts, along with heartier fare like burgers, seafood and wraps.

Advance tickets are available at $25 each, through 9 p.m. July 25 on-line, or for $30 at the gate during the event. Advance tickets include five $1 coupons off a bottle of wine at the festival. Those who don’t wish to taste wine or are under 21 are admitted free of charge. Festival ticket-holders will receive a keepsake wine glass.

Visit www.niagarawinetrail.org for more information.