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Volunteers prepare for the School of Cool tasting during last year's International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration in Niagara, which gathers wine lovers and winemakers for a variety of tastings and events at various locations in Niagara wine country.Supplied

The chardonnay grape has become the world’s most planted white wine grape variety thanks to its increasing popularity with consumers around the world and its ability to produce multiple styles in cool, warm and hot climates.

Steve Weber, chief winemaker at De Bortoli Wines in Australia’s Yarra Valley, has compared the chardonnay vine to a weed since it can grow basically anywhere, which isn’t a slogan you’re likely to spot on a t-shirt. “Chardonnay is a weed” lacks the cache of “Celebrate chardonnay in every way” and “Chardonnay drinkers unite,” which have been used to promote awareness of Niagara’s International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration.

Organizers of the cool climate wine celebration are seizing the opportunity of Chardonnay Day (celebrated globally May 23, 2024) to promote the fourteenth edition of what’s known locally as “i4c,” highlighting the variety of events taking place July 18 to 21 at locations around Niagara to encourage wine lovers to plan a visit. Forty-seven wineries from five countries are participating in various tastings and pouring selected wines during special lunches and dinners alongside dishes from top chefs from the region.

Blomidon Vineyard from Nova Scotia and Blue Mountain Vineyard and Cellars from British Columbia are featured alongside a diverse array of Ontario wineries, such as Adamo Estate Winery from Hockley Valley, Lighthall Vineyards from Prince Edward County and Dobbin Estate Vineyard from west St. Catharines. International guests include Domaine Laroche from France, Hamilton Russell Vineyards from South Africa, and Planeta from Italy.

Stefan Neumann, a master sommelier based in London, England, will deliver the keynote address at the School of Cool, the educational seminar that kicks-off the weekend July 18 at White Oaks Hotel and Spa. Having worked as sommelier at The Fat Duck and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Neumann works as a consultant to wine producers and luxury brands as well as educating the next generation of sommeliers, with a focus on helping candidates improve their blind tasting technique.

First celebrated in 2011, the legacy of the chardonnay festival is more than simply a good time in wine country. It has helped winemakers across the province and country make better wine from their interactions with quality minded producers in attendance.

Chardonnay is the most widely produced variety in Ontario and is responsible for number of the top-quality white wines made in British Columbia and Nova Scotia. Canadian producers are making an exciting array of sparkling and still wines, in oaked and unoaked styles, that focus on typical cool climate flavours, such as apple, pear and citrus.

More information about this year’s festivities is available at

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