A fall weekend in the Niagara Peninsula.


Come September, winemakers linger patiently among the wines, and chefs work like bees to preserve whatever they can for the long winter.

Fall is the season when the whole peninsula starts brimming with delicious foods and wine. At least five wineries (Vineland Estates, Hillebrand, Eastdell, The Good Earth Cooking School and Winery, and Cave Spring Cellars) own and operate fine restaurants featuring locally grown foods and their wines.

There are cooking schools, fruit stands, shops full of crafts and gifts, and many wineries waiting for you to taste their finest wines often gratis.

For any family living in Toronto, or within a radius of 50 kilometres, Niagara Peninsula is the place for an outing to see a few wineries or even spend a

week end. It provides an excellent opportunity to understand the evolution of food and wine production, and restaurant culture in the region. In 1970’s there were only a few restaurants serving mediocre food at best, and even fewer featured local wines. That has changed for the better.

While for centuries Canada produced much of the wheat many western and eastern block countries consumed, today the industry is forced to change. Grain farmers face stiff competition from their European, American, and South American counterparts.

Niagara Peninsula farmers have come to understand that value-added production is more profitable than growing and selling produce.

Fruit growers, at least some, started making fruit wines, which not only find eager customers in the country, but also millions of enthusiasts abroad. Some fruit growers make jams and jellied, other preserve them by traditional or modern methods.

Exotic salad- and vegetable growing have become a profitable segment of the industry, as well as farm raising of trout, quails and many other protein sources.

All these enterprises and wineries need public support to thrive and the population of the Golden Horseshoe can do this well.

Beamsville is a small town of the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Highway), and boasts the Good Earth Cooking School and Winery owned and managed by Nicolette Novak.

The Magnotta Winery generously pours any wine in store for you to try. Their late harvest, select late harvest, and icewine are not reasonably priced but also taste excellent.

Just south of the Good Earth is the peninsula Ridge Winery offering fine wines .

Eastdell Winery close by offers an excellent view of Lake Ontario. You can have lunch there and in addition visit the winery to learn more about intricacies of making wine.

While on the Beamsville Bench do not forget to drop in the Thirthy Bench Winery. This small award-winning establishment makes well- extracted, flavourful wines that stand out. All are made by knowledgeable and caring winemakers and worth a try.

The Lakeview Winery just a few kilometres from Beamsville is definitely worth a visit, as is Vineland Estates close by that also operated an excellent restaurant featuring its wines. The view of the lake is phenomenal as is the view of Toronto in clear days.

Vineland Estate`s riesling wines have been winning awards since its opening in 1980`s. This winery now also produces outstanding red wines that have been able to attract attention abroad mainly in the Caribbean, the U S A, and the Untied Kingdom. Their legendary icewines are exported to Pacific Rim countries.

You can taste their wines in the tasting room and also purchase.

At this stage you can decide to seek accommodation and continue your discovery week- end towards Niagara-on-the-Lake aka NOTL to visit more wineries or turn around head home.

No matter what you do you will have spent a very enjoyable day and learned how much the Peninsula offers.

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