Niagara Peninsula Wine Tour: Choose Your Own Adventure!
By no means am I qualified to write about wine (yet). However, recently I visited the Niagara Falls area and enjoyed a pretty neat DIY wine tour. If you’re interested in doing something like this, make sure you have a GPS and/or a good roadmap with the addresses written down. If you choose, you can follow the route I took – OR- choose your own adventure!
Niagara Falls is worth seeing, but it’s a tourist trap. My family referred to it as “tacky town” when we visited recently, for all it’s gimmicky, showy attractions and structures. It is NOT a place for foodies. My advice? Go once. Do all the wet ‘n’ wild attractions or get a hotel room with a great view like the one pictured above.
I sat in the hotel lobby, calmly and cleanly removed from the clumps of tourists. I had an hour or so to plan the wine tour we would be taking along our return voyage to GTA suburbia.
The Niagara Peninsula (a.k.a. wine country) is located south of Lake Ontario, and is bordered by the Niagara River (U.S. border) to the east and the city of Hamilton to the west. It runs west along what is known as the “escarpment”, which is a long elevated piece of land which happens to be responsible for those big ‘ol waterfalls.
In order to plan this wine tour, I had to quickly figure out what wineries I wanted to visit, and where they were all consecutively located. I decided that driving north-west to Chateau des Charmes would be a good place to start; an older winery, with a pretty landscape and decent wines. From there we drove north-east to the famous Inniskillin Winery, which was a major player in establishing the Canadian wine scene. They are mainly known for their icewines, and I recommend you try them. Choose carefully, because they are $5 a sample. The Niagara Peninsula is the world’s largest supplier of icewine, and it is decadent (read: expensive) stuff. I also quite liked the 2010 P3 – a mix of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, part of which is aged in oak barrels.
PIctured above is Stratus Vineyards, a newer winery: sustainable and upscale. The building is very unique and the wines are very good! Though expensive, we dug deep into our pockets and purchased a bottle. From here we drove right into Niagara-on-the-Lake, a small touristy town with the usual ice cream, coffee, and gift venues as well as some historic lodgings. Also located in Niagara-on-the-Lake are two well-known wineries; namely, Jackson-Triggs and Peller Estates.
Just west of Niagara-on-the-Lake is Konzelmann Estate Winery. This was one of my favourites, due to the friendly staff and affordable prices!
We skipped by the town of St. Catherine’s and drove into Beamsville, where my research persuaded me there was the perfect lunch spot. Angel’s Gate Winery is quaint and pretty. They serve lovely sharing platters, and of course, wine.
Though we didn’t sample wines here, we quite enjoyed the one we got with our lunch. Another reason to enjoy this patio lunch is the view, which overlooks vineyards, as well as Lake Ontario. You can even see Toronto on the other side of the lake!
By now, my mother was the designated driver and the rest of us were all wined out! We drove back to urban Ontario and called it a day.