Living in the GTA we are close to two wine regions, Niagara and Prince Edward County. I’ve already written up my visits to Prince Edward County , this time Niagara. I’ve been down to Niagara a number of times for a weekend get away and always enjoy myself. I’ve also written up a visit to Niagara on the Lake.
As always start with with planning. Wine Country Ontario has some great maps, and links to wineries. It’s a great place to start.
If you haven’t been before, going to an Ontario tasting event like Sip and Savour can give you an entry into exploring Niagara wines and help you to know which wineries make wines you like. If not, then you can always use some other means, reviews, research or do what a woman would do … choose based on the label or the name 🙂 Now that I’ve offended half of my readers, we will move on …
There are what seems like a constant stream of new wineries in Niagara. So a regular trip down can be an opportunity to explore the latest and greatest because often they aren’t in the LCBO! Especially the smaller ones. More and more, places that use to simply grow the grapes are starting to make their own wines. So this can mean a new winery has very old vines!
The number one challenge in a trip like this is monitor what your drinking if your driving! Pace yourself. There is not a chance you can taste every wine at a winery or you will only be going to one. If you are travelling with others split it up so you can each taste a bit of the same wine allowing you to try more. Of course you could always spit, but to me that is virtually sacrilege 🙂
What I have done on a number of occasions is drive down to Niagara to the Escarpment area and hit a winery for a later lunch. There are a number of wineries with terrific restaurants in them:
- Peninsula Ridge has a nice restaraunt inside a lovely converted old home. Their tasting room is quite nicely done. There wines are getting better and better each year and the food is quite good. There 2009 Sauv blanc is yummy! Heres a list of wines I’ve reviewed at Peninsula Ridge.
- Ridgepoint has a terrific Italian country style kitchen. The ambiance of the restaurant is easily compensated by terrific staff, good food, and good wine, all at reasonable prices. The wines tend to be influenced by the Italian heritage of the owners. They also have a lovely patio over looking the vineyard! You can read about my last visit to Ridgepoint here. And here is a list of the reviews of Ridgepoint wines I’ve done.
- East Dell have a lovely restaurant overlooking the vineyard. The ambiance is lovely and they have some good wines at good prices. Here is a write up of my last visit to East Dell.
- Vineland Estates has hands down the nicest of the restaurants I’ve been to in the wine region. Not that there aren’t others. The ambiance is lovely, food good (albeit a little more expensive), great view of the vineyard and a positively dizzying array of wines to try. Here are the Vineland Estates wines I’ve reviewed in the past.
This is not an exhaustive list, just the ones I have been to!
Now that lunch is done you can head to a number of wineries on the way to your Inn for the night. There are lots to choose from in the escarpment or head over to Niagara on the Lake wineries.
My favorite place to stay is right in downtown Jordan. They have two Inns, Inn on the Twenty and Jordan house. They are a quick 5 minute walk from each other. Inn on the Twenty is more up scale. Jordan House a little less expensive. They are owned by the same people. Be sure and book dinner at the restaurant at Inn on the Twenty when you check in. It is a fabulous place with a lovely view, great food, and terrific ambiance.
Now your car is parked and you can head over to Cave Springs for a tasting. They sometimes have tours of the cellar and even some instructional sessions. Ask at the counter.
Now your ready to settle in and relax for a bit before dinner. Enjoy the room, and unwind.
Dinner over at Inn on the Twenty …
Lastly you can walk over to the Jordan House which has a good pub that includes live music, and a dance floor. Get your groove on!
In the morning back over to Inn on the Twenty restaurant for breakfast. Then head out and hit a few wineries on your way out! Or visit the Niagara Butterfly conservatory or go see Niagara Falls itself. There’s also the Casino in Niagara Falls and so much more to do!
At the end of your two day stay you will have visited 8-10 wineries, had some incredible food. Relaxed, taken it easy and had yourself a wonderful recharging weekend get away, close to the city!
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