Uncorking the Falls

Wine, short films and relaxation: City Life hits wine country for a preview of the second annual Niagara Integrated Film Festival (NIFF)

The Niagara Integrated Film Festival (NIFF), which includes the World’s Smallest Film Festival (WSFF) — a section of one- to three-minute films shot entirely on a mobile device — returns on June 18th, 2015. The four-day event will showcase 30 short films created by Canadians in the heart of Ontario’s wine country, Niagara-on-the-lake.

My first taste of NIFF is a stop at Pondview Estate Winery, where I find myself transfixed by a beautiful view of vineyards and rays of sunlight peaking from the clouds. The experience differs greatly from being caught in traffic just 20 minutes earlier. The winery’s owner, Luciano (Lou) Puglisi, welcomes me to the property and gets right into pairings.

The first sip of the day is called Harmony White. Delicious and sweet, even my unsophisticated palate is able to detect a fresh green apple aroma and crisp finish. The experience is enhanced even more so when I pair the Harmony White with a soft and delicate Brie cheese.

The second wine, Pondview’s Bella Terra Chardonnay, goes well with buttered popcorn — the perfect pairing for an event like NIFF. After trying one of its delicious reds, a full-bodied Cabernet Merlot, we head down to a chilly barrel room to catch two short films. The first mini picture, Kajutaijuq: The Spirit That Comes, discusses the importance of not relying on technology, while the second, Flankers, is a lesson in selflessness.

After the viewings we are whisked off to Konzelmann Estate Winery, the seventh-oldest winery in Niagara-on-Lake, which is now one of over 140 in the area. Here we are given the winery’s signature Pinot Noir, a light, smooth red we pair with gourmet wonders like a mini chicken caesar on frico basket, a smoked salmon blini and a mascarpone and strawberry muffin.

Afterwards we head over to the family-owned Pillitteri Estates Winery, where five generations of the Pillitteri family have worked. Here we try three very different wines, including the winery’s famous Vidal icewine — a sweet, voluptuous concoction with strong honey notes.

While we eat, we are shown two more short films. The first, called Farewell, is comedic rendition of the struggle to break into the music industry, followed by a Bildungsroman called Sleeping Giant, which will have viewers too shocked to look away.

This year NIFF will showcase eye-opening short films, wines and great food by Canadian creators in all three disciplines. The festival was created last year by TIFF co-founder Bill Marshall, who decided it was time to celebrate film, food and wine that is purely Canadian. Escape the city and experience NIFF all for yourself from June 18-21, 2015.


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