Foodies and wine lovers enjoyed a fantastic weekend of sampling gourmet mac ‘n cheese creations paired with refreshing local wines during the 5th annual EPIC Wineries March Mac’ness event held on March 3 & 4, 2018.
Participants picked up their March Mac’ness passport, which listed participating wineries, and took a self guided tour of Windsor Essex County’s wine country while enjoying delicious mac ‘n cheese creations and wines.
Some wineries prepared their unique mac ‘n cheese creations in house while others had them catered by local chefs and restaurants.
“Wineries with onsite restaurants and chefs (Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards, Oxley Estates, Viewpointe, North 42) did not disappoint,” writes local wine enthusiast and certified sommelier Gary Killops . “They each offered an interesting and unique twist to mac and cheese making these four locations must stops.” When it comes to wine and food pairings Gary’s qualifications are worth noting. His blog post lists the two “Best Mac & Cheese Wine Pairings” during this year’s event.
Mac Daddy Chef Steve Meehan and his team at North 42 Degrees Estate Winery put together the most unique looking dish. Their delicious Mac ‘n Cheese Spring Rolls with aged Cheddar Dipping Sauce was created in house at the wineries’ new Bistro 42 Restaurant. Guests had the choice of pairing it with either North 42 Degrees 2016 Pinot Noir or North 42 Degrees 2013 Riesling.
Cooper’s Hawk Vineyard, host of the Vines Restaurant, prepared a spectacular smoked brisket with apple chutney mac and cheese which was brought out by Chef Adam Ogbe when we (Theresa and Eric of Eyes On Windsor) made a stop there on our tour. It was paired with Cooper’s Hawk 2016 Riesling or Cooper’s Hawk 2017 Cabernet Merlot.
March Mac’ness was all about deer straight from the restaurant at Oxley Estate Winery. Guests enjoyed their incredible Buck-A-Roni Mac ‘N Cheese braised venison with caramelized onions, and cheddar cheese. The charm of Oxley along with the hospitality and smiling staff (Emily Renaud and Kerry Godden) serving the Buck-A-Roni paired with Oxley 2016 Chardonnay made for an exceptional experience.
The final EPIC Winery with it’s own restaurant, Viewpointe Estate Winery, was a favourite and one of the funnest on the tour. Chef Jodie Brown and Event Manager Heidi Steinhoff had participants laughing as they entertained, all decked out in their chef hats and funky fake moustaches. Windsor Essex is known for some of the best pizzerias in the world. If word gets out the region will be known for the best gourmet pepperoni pizza mac ‘n cheese. Just like most Windsor pizzerias, “we used fresh Galati cheese to incorporate local into our pizza mac and cheese,” explains Chef Jodie. The pepperoni mac and cheese was paired with Viewpointe 2010 Cabernet Franc.
While Muscedere Vineyards doesn’t boast a restaurant, their marvelous mediterranean flavoured Fig & Walnut with Goat Cheese Mac ‘n Cheese was prepared in house. The Muscedere family lives in the beautiful house found in the middle of the vineyards. Their tasty mac ‘n cheese dish was homemade in the family kitchen. It was served with either Muscedere Vineyards 2016 Cabernet Franc or 2016 Sauvignon Blanc. The senior Muscederes, Mario and Pat Muscedere, where all smiles as they served guests with pride.
During our tour several of the wineries we visited opted to have their mac and cheese dishes catered in. (CREW: Colchester Ridge Estate Winery, Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery, and Colio Estate Winery).
CREW recruited the culinary talents of Mettawas Station Mediterranean Restaurant. March Mac’ness tour stops at CREW featured a remarkable Moroccan Spiced Cheddar Mac ‘n Cheese with Curry Braised Beef. This flavourful mac was paired with CREW 2013 Merlot and served by several cheerful hosts.
Dock 21 Fine Pub created a tasty Taco Mac ‘n Cheese that was served at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery along with their 2016 Riesling. “This is sort of on our menu,” explains Dock 21 Chef Willy Krahn, “it’s basically our nacho recipe but I substituted the chips for mac and cheese instead, and away we go.”
Colio Estate Winery teamed up with Jack’s Gastropub to serve up a sensational spinach and artichoke dip inspired gourmet white mac ‘n cheese paired with Colio Wines 2016 Lake and River Sauvignon Blanc or 2016 Girls’ Night Out Rosé. “This is our take on a spinach and artichoke dip, (made with) spinach, artichokes, roasted tomatoes in a fontina and parmesan cream sauce with a parmesan and pumpernickel crumble, that’s my spiel,” says Jack Gastropub Chef Elizabeth Joncas. “I actually just started at Jack’s, this is my first week, and I’m really lucky that I got to be involved with this (March Mac’ness), it’s been so much fun.”
Additional wineries that participated included Aleksander Estate Winery, Pelee Island Winery, and Vivace Estate Winery.
Participants mixed and mingled with each other and winery staff along the way. In addition, they were able to vote for their top three favourite mac ‘n cheese dishes. On their final stop participants completed a ballot and left it at the winery. The winning winery will receive a trophy and bragging rights as Tastiest Mac ‘N Cheese Champion for the year!
Ballots are still being tallied and winners will be announced in the near future.
Previous People’s Choice Award Winners For Best Gourmet Mac ‘N Cheese Dish include:
2018 March Mac’ness Award Winners: To be announced soon.
2017 March Mac’ness Award Winners: Oxley Estate Winery, Colio Estate Winery, and Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery.
2016 March Mac’ness Award Winners: Oxley Estate Winery, Colio Estate Winery, and Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards.
2015 March Mac’ness Award Winners: Colio Estate Winery, Oxley Estate Winery, and North 42 Degrees Estate Winery.
2014 March Mac’ness Award Winners: Colio Estate Winery, Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery, and Cooper’s Hawk.
Once again March Mac’ness sold out in advance like EPIC Winery events usually do. So be sure to get your tickets to their next event ahead of time so you don’t miss out. Their next event is their annual Sip Into Summer Weekend. Sip Into Summer is being rebranded and will be called Dip Into Summer and usually takes place in late May. Think March Mac’ness but featuring wine paired with delicious dips.
EPIC Wineries’ annual events contribute to making Essex County’s Lake Erie North Shore a fun wine destination to explore. In total EPIC Wineries organize five annual events which include Taste The Season, Vintage Tasting, Meet The Makers, March Mac’ness and Dip Into Summer (formerly called Sip Into Summer).
For those who can’t wait for the next event, the Passport to EPIC Wine Country is an alternative way to take a self guided tour through Canada South’s wine region anytime of year.
For the most up to date information about EPIC Wineries visit: http://www.epicwineries.com