One-Tank Trips: Festivals celebrating harvest abound

Foodland Ontario says “good things grow in Ontario,” and here’s an opportunity to check out that claim.

Upcoming festivals will highlight Niagara grapes, Wellesley apples and cheese and Bala’s cranberry crops.

Savour the best of the Niagara grape-growing region’s fall harvest and tour the wineries with the discovery pass program.

It’s part of the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival that’s packed with activities on weekends now through Sept. 30.

The pass is available for $45 ($35 for designated drivers) to explore Niagara on a self-guided tour with a choice of some 40 wineries.

Visitors can enjoy eight wine and culinary pairings as they watch the harvest and “taste the flavours from the abundant produce from local farm stands.”

Some tips for making the most of the visits: Passes are valid for all three weekends. Do your homework on the “special wine and culinary experiences that celebrate the season.”

View the online guide (or printed version) and mark the favourites on your route while leaving time to visit other vineyards and taste additional wines.

“Better yet, plan one day in Niagara-on-the-Lake and another in Twenty Valley to get a full taste of Niagara,” they suggest.

Food and wine pairings and participating wineries are listed online as well as all the activities at the festival.

New this year is the sommelier wine lounge pass ($50) for a VIP experience to enjoy premium and sparkling wines in an al fresco wine cafe set in a grove of century-old trees in St. Catharines’ Montebello Park.

www.niagarawinefestival.com; (905) 688-0212

Tasty treats

Combine the products of two businesses northwest of Kitchener and voila, you have the Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival.

Food is a big part of this fest on Sept. 29 that began in 1976 to tap into the township’s major businesses – A.W. Jantzi and Sons famous for Wellesley Brand Apple Products and the J.M. Schneider Cheese Factory.

They say every good festival is built on great food, events and fun.

“In Wellesley, the food begins with a pancake breakfast at the crack of dawn and continues with a smorgasbord at noon, not to mention the apple butter and apple cider available all day long,” organizers say.

The Lions Club offers sausage on a bun while schnitzel is made by the Optimists and apple fritters are from local church members.

“If that doesn’t sound tempting enough, a smorgasbord (buffet) dinner is served featuring pigtails, spareribs, roast beef and sauerkraut.”

They suggest walking around the village and taking in the sights, markets, performances, quilt auction, stage coach ride, tours, boat regatta and horseshoe tournament.”

wellesleyabcfestival.ca; (519) 656-2400

A berry good time

They’re picking and grining at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh as part of the Bala Cranberry Festival from Oct. 12 to 14.

As part of the “celebration of our beloved cranberry,” the festival offers visits to the marsh and the associated business, Muskoka Lakes Winery.

The berry harvest begins on Sept. 22 and continues through October to bring in about 180,000 kilograms of cranberries.

Fest organizers suggest the best way to experience it all is to start at one end of town and stroll to the other, taking in all the vendors, attractions, entertainment and food along the way.

Visitors can enjoy cranberry crepes and bread, candied cranberries, cranberry and cran-maple syrup, cranapple cider and cranberry wine.

There are fireworks, “continuous entertainment,” plenty of meal options, a midway, children’s petting zoo, farmer’s market, craft show, bazaar, games and vendors.

Admission is $10; free to age 12.

balacranberryfestival.on.ca; (705) 762-1564

Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com

For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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