Food & Wine
Niagara Wineries: 11 Places Definitely Worth Trying
When you think of Niagara wine, if you think of wine in Niagara Falls at all, you probably think ice wine. Or if you’re a little more wine aware you might also think Rieslings. Red varietals, very well executed, is probably not what would come to mind.
But that is definitely something the winemakers up there are doing – in addition to sweet and off-dry whites and ice wines. Apparently the region has a unique microclimate that creates growing conditions similar to wine regions in Europe.
When planning my trip to Niagara Falls, wine tasting was actually what I was most excited about (other than Cave of the Winds). I love seeking out underrepresented wine regions to see what I’m missing.
The problem is few people are writing about Niagara wines, other than ice wines, so it was difficult to know which places were worth going to. I stumbled upon An Oenophile’s Guide to the Best Niagara Wineries from the Crowne Plaza Niagara Falls of all places, which offered some direction.
And it was at the first recommended Niagara winery – Ravine Vineyard in St David’s Bench – that I got lucky. The person doing my tasting was a somme in Toronto who spent each summer working in Niagara wine country and was able to give me some fantastic recommendations for places making good reds and/or interesting wines! (Especially since I was a big fan of Ravine wines.)
I only had a day, which limited my exploration to a handful in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region, but sharing her other recommendations as well in case you have more time or can find some bottles in your local wine shop. If you don’t have time to go wine tasting but want to take some bottles home, the LCBO stores in Niagara Falls carry a great variety of wines.
Niagara-on-the-Lake Winery Recommendations
Ravine Vineyard — Became a winery as a way of sustaining the 100+ year old family farm. Great whites, fantastic reds, beautiful grounds and amazing farm-to-table restaurant. You could spend all day here and be perfectly content.
Ravine Vineyard just 15 minutes from downtown Niagara Falls
Between the Lines Winery –(my addition even though I didn’t get a chance to visit) When searching for vineyards embracing low yield, high quality their name popped up and they seem serious about wine with a bent towards exploring interesting varietals that others might not be growing.
Big Head Wines — Unique can’t even begin to describe this winery, which is focused on innovation and experimentation. Three tasting options: a la carte, selected wines at the tasting counter, and a sit-down blind wine tasting of 10 wines. Great staff, intriguing wines. A must visit.
Stratus — Established winery with a beautiful tasting room, producing some of the best wines in Niagara. Their reds are off the charts great — I finally found a Tannat I like — and their ice wines are stand outs. You can select 4 wines to taste from their extensive list, so plan to share with your friends to try as many as possible!
Niagara-on-Lake Brewery Recommendations
If you want to switch it up during your time in Niagara-on-the-Lake, the region also boasts several good breweries.
Oast House Brewers — The bright red barn, next door to Stratus, offers a hip (and often crowded) tasting room and a sunny outdoor patio where you can enjoy their affordably priced beer on draft or a Niagara Nag, their version of a Moscow mule.
Silversmith Brewing Company — if you’re not looking closely you can easily miss this ivy covered brewery housed in a former church. Offers indoor and outdoor seating options as well as tasty nibbles to enjoy with your flights.
Niagara Escarpment and Twenty Valley Winery Recommendations
I wasn’t able to visit these on my short trip, but they’re on my list for next time. Here is the somme’s cheat sheet for the region:
Cave Spring Cellars — Features “fashionable reds and aromatic whites” but go for the sparkling!
Good Earth Vineyard & Winery – The wine is good, but apparently the restaurant is fantastic and makes for a perfect lunch spot.
Kew Vineyards Estate Winery –Vines were planted in 1975, making them some of the oldest in the region. Another place where the sparkling wines really stand out.
Leaning Post Wines — A range of red and whites, but the rose is the reason to stop by!
Tawse Winery – Family-owned organic and biodynamic winery, don’t miss the Pinot Noir and Cab Franc which are particularly luscious (I did manage to find a bottle at the local LCBO).
More From This Trip
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Pittsburgh Views & Brews
Hotel Review: Four Points Fallsview Niagara Falls
The Part of Niagara Falls You Actually Want to Spend Time In
Hotel Review: Suite Upgrade at Sheraton on the Falls
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