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Jazz Through Wine-Coloured Glasses

Jazz Through Wine-Coloured Glasses

Mosh pits, all-day standing marathons holding your place near the stage, overpriced water, strip search entry and no hooch allowed. Those concert days are SO over.

Here’s how a day-trip to Niagara can turn into the perfect pairing of music and wine: (well, there’s food, too, so that makes it a threesome I suppose). It’s called Jazz and Blues at the Winery and the Trius Winery at Hillebrand knows exactly how to serve up all the right ingredients to create a very civilized concert experience:

Niagara is a short day trip from Toronto

Niagara is a short day trip from Toronto

Start with a generous helping of not-too-hot-not-too-cold weather as an appetizer, served up in a picturesque location a short distance from Toronto. Follow this with delicious food and wine offerings from a gourmet chef and award-winning winery, and top it all off with intimate proximity to the stage on lush barefoot-worthy grass.

See, that's how close you are! 

See, that’s how close you are!

An added bonus? No porta-potties. Hurray – because there’s nothing that spoils a stellar concert event than squatting in a plastic pooper.

I have to be honest here, though. Jazz is not typically my thing. At least not the improvisational everyone-do-their-own-thing-at-the-same-time kind of jazz. But like the wines served at the event, this jazz is very palatable (they had me at their version of the Muppet show theme song). But for more informed fans in the audience, the lineup included Ranee Lee, Michael Occhipinti, Ron Davis and Heillig Manoeuvre, and I have to admit, with the relaxed atmosphere on the lawns, the music felt just right.

The Stage at Trius

The Stage at Trius

Beyond the music, Trius certainly has it all figured out, as do some of the regulars in the audience: $40 general admission ticket holders came equipped with chairs, picnic lunches, blankets, shade umbrellas and even tables and tablecloths in some cases. For the more ritzy attendees, there were assigned chairs in front of the stage, with individual umbrellas and roaming servers who made sure you were well taken care of. With the sun shining above and chilled wine in hand, it did feel a little like a private beach resort. Add in food stands that were worthy of chef Frank Dodd’s luxurious restaurant (duck fat fries, and strawberries with chocolate sauce to go, for example), and this made for a truly grownup concert experience.

Concerts, grownup-style

Concerts, grownup-style

But the best part of this was that in true Canadian style, it wasn’t pretentious. Glamourous sunhats and maxi dresses mingled with flipflops and shorts, with everyone up dancing in front of the stage by the end of the afternoon. (okay, wine under the sun will do that).

Oh yes, and the wine. Of course, the wine. There was lots of that, too. Good wine, not what some of us remember from our youth when we think of Ontario wines. We seriously have got to get over that stereotype – (and look outside of the LCBO) – and we can discover what are some truly great wines. The advantage to any of us living near Niagara is that we can find these wines in our own backyard, and exploring the beautiful escarpment to discover them is more than half of the fun.

This little trip to Niagara served up much more than just a concert – it was the perfect opportunity to escape the big city for a day and savour everything there is to love about a Canadian summer, wine glass in hand.

I just might go for a second helping in August…

The Trius Winery at Hillebrand

The Trius Winery at Hillebrand

TIP: Trius Jazz and Blues at the Winery is held every summer in Niagara-on-the-Lake, on two separate dates (to keep those jazz-vs-blues hooligans from getting into skirmishes I suppose!). Check out the website for dates and tickets.

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