With summer now in full force, thousands of wine enthusiasts are flocking to local wineries.
Torontonians are lucky in that they can reach all four wine growing regions within a few hours – Niagara Peninsula (Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Escarpment), Lake Erie North Shore, and prince Edward County.
Most of Ontario’s 125 wineries operate tasting rooms cum stores and some even restaurants.
In Ontario, all wine regions offer contrasting beauty and natural landscapes. Each region continues to grow, with more vineyards planted and wineries opening year after year.
Tasting wine in boutique wineries offers advantages – you can taste before you buy, the wines you buy are properly handled, and you have an opportunity to acquire wines, which in most cases, L.C.B.O cannot offer. These are “small lot” wines and only produces in 100 – 200 cases quantities.
For a Toronto family, reaching Niagara-on-the- Lake will take one1/2 to two hours where the concentration of wineries warrants at least a long afternoon, or two days.
The Queen Elizabeth Way leads to Niagara-on-the-Lake and Escarpment.
It is best to visit boutique wineries as most use the fruit of their own vineyards and with due care. Their wines are available only at their stores.
The Niagara-on-the-Lake, you can visit with confidence, Lailey Vineyard, Reif Estate, Marynissen Estates, and Riverview Cellars estate in an afternoon and taste four to five wines at each establishment. Some charge a nominal fee, others not. For those interested in fruit wines, I recommend Sunnybrook Farm Estate for their range and quality.
There are also many more wineries, if you decide to spend another day. The following are worth visiting
You an have dinner at Peller Estates winery’s fine dining room and taste some of their premium and ultra premium wines. Here are the wineries you can visit – Frogpond Winery Farm, Coyote’s Run Winery, Ravine Vineyard, Chateau des Charmes, Niagara College Teaching Winery (you can have lunch or dinner in the dining room), and Southbrook Vineyards.
On another weekend or Saturday, visit the Escarpment. Here 13th Street Winery, Flat Rock Cellars, Vineland Estates (you can have lunch or dinner in the dining room overlooking the region and on clear days you can even see the CN Tower in Toronto).
In the afternoon, Tawse Winery and Malivoire Company would be well worth a visit
Prince Edward County, 1 ½ – 2 hours drive east of Toronto, grape growers continue to battle severe winters in this part of the province.
Despite difficulties, there are more than 30 wineries and some of their premium Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling wines win international awards.
The landscape is gorgeous with town dating back to Loyalist times with interesting antique stores, and in the summer roadside produce stands.
Huff Estates (operates an inn and spa), Closson Chase, Norman Hardie, Rosehall Run and Casa-Dea should be on your itinerary if you have time, visit Long Dog. Their Pinot Noir are very fine, but expensive.
Lake Erie North Shore has close to 20 wineries that are scattered over a large expanse from Blenheim to Amherstburg. Most are on the shore of Lake Erie or close to it.
The largest of all Pelee Island Winery is in Kingsville that also operates a Pavilion in the summer on the Pelee Island, the southernmost point in Canada. This winery offers some very well made wines at very attractive prices. (It owns 200 hectares of vineyards on the Island).
The next largest winery is Colio Estates in Harrow and produces a “cheap and cheerful” line and high-end CEV line of fine varietal wines.
Sprucewood Shores Estate, Smith and Wilson, D’Angelo Vineyards Estate Winery, Mastronardi Estate Winery, Muscedere Vineyards Estate Winery, Coopers Hawk Vineyards, Viewpoint Estate Winery, Colchester Ridge Estate Winery and Alexander Estate Winery are some of the wineries that are worth visiting.
The best lunch in the region would be Lake Erie pickerel in fish and chips style in local restaurants.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.