Icewines and Valentine’s Day at Casa Larga

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – The 14th annual New York Icewine and Food Festival returns to Casa Larga Vineyards in Fairport this Saturday and Sunday, February 12-13.

Casa Larga president Andrea Colaruotolo O’Neill discussed the two-day event Monday during News 8 at noon.

“Last year, because of the pandemic, we had to go from a stand-and-walk festival to a seated festival,” Colaruotolo O’Neill said. “We found guests enjoyed it more because when you sit down and enjoy your wines with icewine-infused dishes, the experience is much better. So this year we moved it to an all-seated event. When you wake up, you can go and visit our partner wine estates. On Sunday we will have breweries and cider houses here as well as spirits.

Colaruotolo O’Neill said Icewine is a very unique product. “There are only a few parts of the world that can do that because believe it or not it must be very cold. It must be minus 17 degrees when you pick the vine. New York, because of Lake Ontario and the depth of the water, there is a severe freeze in the winter. We leave the grapes hanging on the vine after the first harvest in the fall. We pick frozen grapes, the let’s press frozen and make a very rich and sweet dessert wine.

Festival food is infused with icewine. “You can drink it as is as a dessert, you can have it before dinner or with sharp cheeses,” Colaruotolo O’Neill said. “For this event, we are partnering with RIT chef Autumn Geer. We have been doing this for several years now and she creates this great menu. She understands the nuances of Icewine and gets very creative and mixes it right into different foods.

This year is the first time the festival will be a two-day event. Sunday – Super Bowl Sunday – there will be a tailgate at Casa Larga. “We’ll see how it goes this year and hopefully it will continue in the future,” Colaruotolo O’Neill said. “Sunday will be the festival of artisanal and culinary drinks. So while Saturday is all about Icewine, Sunday we’re going to incorporate New York State’s other craft beverages – beers, ciders and spirits – into the tasting and invite them into the cellar.

Colaruotolo O’Neill said the NY Ice Wine and Culinary Festival has been popular from the start. “It’s always Valentine’s Day, so we have a lot of people coming for their Valentine’s Day event. Another thing is that it’s an opportunity for us to bring in other suppliers of New York State who make these products and to have a chance to tell everyone about it, and it’s a great thing to get out of your house in the winter and celebrate the season.

For tickets and more information, visit CasaLarga.com.

Shirley M. Pinder