As Canadians we know that Canada is known for its production of maple syrup, for having more lakes than any other country, for exquisite filming locations and extreme winter sports. Canada is also known for our numerous inventions like, ice hockey, basketball, snow blowers, peanut butter, garbage bags and penicillin. But, after a late night lecture, you’re not thinking about garbage bags, are you? Instead, you’re probably looking at what VQA wines you have left in the beer fridge.
Narrowing in on the beautiful province of Ontario. Niagara specifically, has become known for its gorgeous vineyards. Niagara has also gained global recognition as a “must visit” destination to enjoy a lavish and relaxing country escape with a bit of food and drink. With more than 85 wineries spanning from Niagara-on-the-Lake to St. Catharines to the town of Lincoln, the millions of tourists attracted to our region does not come as a surprise. At one point, you must have envisioned yourself sipping on a glass of wine in Napa Valley or somewhere in Italy enjoying the gorgeous landscape — but don’t forget we too, have our very own Napa Valley right here in the Niagara Region.
The Niagara Region is home to numerous award winning wines, especially the bankable and in-demand ice wine. Fun fact: Niagara is one of very few places in the world that is able to produce ice wine. Ice wine is made from grapes that have been left on the vine, and then harvested in the Winter once temperatures are around minus eight degrees Celsius or below. This chilling temperature results in an increased sugar content, and just like that, ice wine is created.
There are more than 10,000 of wine grown across the world, from those there are hundreds of different types, from red to white to rosé. If this whole edition was dedicated solely to wine, I would happily go in depth with all varieties, however we do not live in that kind of fantasy world, so grab a glass because here is a look into some of the more popular wines across the Niagara Region.
Here is another fun fact before we begin: You can get a white wine from a red grape by removing the skins from the juice immediately. Wine colour comes from the skins of the grapes, so even red grapes are white inside.
A very distinct white wine. It is an excellent choice if you are having fish or chicken dishes. Chardonnay originated in France and is grown successfully in most viticulture areas under a variety of climate conditions.
Has a generally lighter taste than Chardonnay. This wine is an ideal and versatile food-pairing choice if your dish includes seafood, poultry or salads. New Zealand produces most of the world’s Sauvignon Blanc wines.
A red wine that is paired wonderfully with red meat dishes, like steak and beef. This wine originates from France, California and Australia. European winemakers use the name Syrah for this wine. Shiraz is used to produce many average wines, but it can also produce some of the world’s finest, deepest and darkest reds with intense flavours.
Known for its softness on the palate, making it a little too easy to drink. Merlot is grown on the West Coast of America, Australia and other countries. In terms of food-wine pairing, Merlot can literally go with any dish, even if you are just looking to unwind and treat your self at the end of
One of the most noble red wine grapes. The structure of this wine is delicate, meaning there is no roughness. Pinot Noir is very transparent in terms of where it is grown. Ultimately, it comes down to personal choice and the expression of each variety. This wine is ideally paired with dishes such as grilled salmon, chicken and lamb.
Typically sweeter and usually comes after a meal. Sometimes brandy is added to a dessert wine so that more of its natural sugars can be retained. The most popular dessert wines are Maderia, Sherry, Marsala, Vermouth and Port.
Made from a wide range of red and white grapes. Side note: Champagne is made from Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier or Pinot Noir – sometimes all three are combined collectively. Also, the difference between Champagne and sparkling wine is that Champagne comes exclusively from a remote region in France. Always check the labels when choosing a sparkling wine, this is where you get an indication of its sweetness or dryness.
Now that we’ve given some clarification into some of the more popular wines, let’s dive right into some of the wineries Niagara has to offer:
Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake and for just fifteen-dollars a person, you can enjoy one of their daily wine tours. Peller Estates can easily take up a full day, but with a restaurant on-site, a tasting room made out of ice and a wine and cheese tour, what a better way to spend a day! John Peller, grandson to founder Andrew Peller, stated “It’s been over fifty years since my grandfather raised a glass to toast his very first vintage, and our family proudly carries on his tradition of crafting wine with an uncommon commitment to quality.” Peller Estates have won many prestigious awards for their signature products, such as Chardonnarys and ice wines. “In fact, our goals today are higher than ever before as we aim to produce wines that rank among the best in the world,” Peller stated. “My grandfather would be proud of what has grown from those first vines.”Upcoming events at Peller Estates include: The Peller Estates Barrel Cellar Dinner Series with all experience begins at 6:30 p.m. One to keep in mind is happening on May 13, Peller will be celebrating Canada with a O Canada! Celebration Dinner. This dinner celebrates all things Canadian and each course will feature all the flavours that Canada has to offer. Starting May 20, a Grill & Chill experience offered daily at 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m.
Located in the Beamsville. This estate is over one-hundred years old and offers everything from acres of vineyards to the perfect spot to nosh on some wine and cheese. This winery is ideal for a bachelorette weekend. Prices for most tours vary on prices depending the group size. As stated on the winery’s website, Hermann Weis brought his own spin from Germany and unknowingly became a true pioneer on Ontario’s wine region, all of this happened in 1975. Itching to know more about Kew Vineyards? They will fill you in on their extraordinary stories that surround the Kew family when you visit.
is located in the Beamsville, like Kew. Although this winery does not offer wine tours, there is a package deal consisting of three wine tastings for eight dollars. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, there is a gorgeous patio with the most stunning view that you will ever encounter. They also offer a selection of sixteen wines, this includes two delightful ice wines. There are numerous events happening on the Redstone grounds, on April 7 at 7:30 p.m., Redstone will be hosting a Taste of Thailand event. Tickets are $45 per guest. There is also an Easter Brunch occurring on April 16 at 11:00 a.m.
is located in Niagara-on-the-Lake. This iconic winery offers tours starting at $10 per person. For over 35 years, Inniskillin has been committed to the production of wines made from quality grapes. This winery also has a very iconic ice wine collection, and if you’re not looking for something sweet, try their Cabernet Franc. Keep in mind that starting in May, this winery will be running on summer hours, which means that they are open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., seven days a week. Inniskillin offers public wine tours in the summer as well. These tours run daily from 10:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. from June 1 to September 30, the cost is $10 per person. Take a look at their website for more information on tastings, private experiences and ice wine tasting.
is Canada’s first biodynamic winery, this essentially means that this winery takes an ethical and ecological approach to making and harvesting their wines. Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, this winery offers tours that range from $10 to $35 per person. This is an eco-friendly vineyard and there is a tour you can attend where you can be taught about their organic growing and farming practices. Dinners are offered at this winery on every Thursday of the month where you can learn about how to pair your wine with meals made with local ingredients.
is located in Vineland and owned by RedStone, Tawse is one of the most popular and award winning wineries within the Niagara Region. They offer an extraordinary range of reds, whites and rosés. Tawse has been named Canadian Winery of the Year in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and now produces 30,000 cases of wine annually.“ When booking a tour, keep in mind that availability will depend on the size of your group.
Two Sisters Vineyards
offers estate tasting at $20 per person. This winery is located in Niagara-on-the-Lake and truly is an extraordinary wine experience. There is a restaurant at this vineyard for you to experience wine pairing events, holiday dinners and season festivities. “More than anything, I am dedicated to drawing on our unique soil composition, terroir and our location in the Niagara River appellation,” says Adam Pearce, winemaker for Two Sisters. “Our ultra-modern production facility, innovative fermentation equipment and a first class French oak barrel program absolutely spoils me as a winemaker.” Two Sisters Vineyard also serves the pizza that pairs well with a wine of your choice.
is located in Niagara-on-the-Lake and is like hitting the jackpot for a lush, such as myself – these guys offer nine, yes NINE, different wine tours. Trius is also an essential spot when planning a mini romantic getaway. This winery has a restaurant that provides several different wine tasting experiences. Trius is celebrating 25 years since the release of Trius Red onto the international wine scene. If you visit this winery, make sure to pick yourself up an iconic bottle of 2014 Trius Red. Looking for a plan of action when visiting this gorgeous winery? It is recommended by many that you check in at a local nearby Inn and spend a good chunk of your day at this beautiful location. Last year, every Friday night in June, Trius opened their backyard fro guests to join them for a movie and a glass of wine and called it, “Movie Night in the Vineyard”.
Vineland Estates Winery
Located in Vineland and offers tours ranging from $6 to $25 depending on your group size. Vineland also offered bed and breakfast accommodations, which is a perfect romantic getaway if you want to be amongst the vines. With room for about fifty guests, you can host a wedding dinner and reception here. The food and, of course wine, will definitely get your guests talking, but the view is even more spectacular! Don’t forget to head to their website to see a full listing of events that Vineyard has to offer. They are currently advertising their Spring Fling event, which is essentially a three choice table la d-hote lunch or dinner.
Jackson-Triggs has been Niagara’s most recognizable brand and is located in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Jackson-Triggs got its name from the founders, Allan Jackson and Don Triggs, who established the winery in 1993. This is Canada’s most awarded winery and have been named “Best Canadian Winery” numerous times in international and domestic competitions. Marco Piccoli is a Niagara winemaker for Jackson-Triggs and says that “wine is alive, and expresses its unique vigour from the vine right through to our palate and I enjoy infusing each grape with part of my own personality.” On July 21 through to September 8, Jackson-Triggs will host their 17th annual summer concert at the Jackson-Triggs Amphitheatre. Sam Roberts Band, Chantal Kreviazuk and Gordon Lightfoot are among those who will headlining the event. Tickets for the concert go on sale to the general public on April 4 at 9:00 a.m. and can be purchased at greatestatesniagara.com. Concert-goers can also purchase a four-course dinner and Jackson-Triggs Reserve VQA pairing at the exclusive Barrel Cellar Dinner before the show for $112 per person, not including the performance ticket.
-Loredana Del Bello, Assistant News Editor