Ice wine festival spread the joy throughout month

Mar. 4—The crowds aren't quite what they used to be, but Ice Wine Festival participants are happy as the event now includes an entire month instead of just a few weekends.

The Ice Wine Festival is celebrating 20 years of showing off the unique wine to interested parties from Cleveland to Erie, Pa., and beyond.

The participating wineries are Debonne Vineyards, Ferrante Winery and Ristorante, Grand River Cellars Winery and Restaurant, Laurello Vineyards, Cask 307 and South River Vineyards and Red Eagle Distillery.

After the coronavirus pandemic, the wineries decided to take the whole month of March to feature their ice wine options instead of jamming the experience into weekend-only events.

"We love it because not everyone enjoys the crowds," said Debonne Vineyards Manager Loretta Todd. She said visitors have been coming since March 1, when the festival officially started.

"We've been busy since day one," she said.

Todd said people spread their experience out over a longer period of time.

Mary Jo Ferrante, of Ferrante Winery, also said the new format allows customers to experience more of the winery.

"I think it works out well. We can spend a little more time with each guest," she said.

Ferrate said that there used to be as many as 1,100 people on a weekend, but 500 on a Saturday is good now because so many people come throughout the week.

Each participant is adding their unique flavor to the experience as well, Ferrante said. "Each winery is doing something special on Saturdays," she said.

Jen Laurello, of Laurello Vineyards, said the new format works out well for their operation as well. She said guests have been coming throughout the week.

The event is scheduled from noon to 5 p.m. daily at the participating operations. Cindy Lindburg, owner of Grand River Cellars and coordinator of the event, recently said the event is slowly recovering from the pandemic.