• Jen Bedard

Wine, Dine and Unwind - Exploring Niagara Wine Country

Updated: Dec 6, 2019

The Niagara Region is a treasure trove of natural beauty that incorporates both calm and tumultuous water systems with cultivated and wild landscapes. With the Niagara River on the East, forming the border with the US, the region is also bound by Lake Ontario in the North and Lake Erie in the south, giving residents hundreds of options when it comes to choosing things to do.

Even though the region is very cold with lots of snow in the winter months; late spring brings with it warmer weather that lasts until almost the end of September. Autumn can be cold, but offers its own spectacular show of colors and the winter blizzards create a fantastic world of ice and snow.

Tourism might be the region’s most important industry, but the area also has a strong agricultural economy with viticulture being the biggest earner. Those residents who appreciate road trips, the outdoors and a good glass of wine, exploring the wine route, with its fertile soils, offers a world of intensity, variety and distinction.

With over a hundred wineries to explore, most of them were replanted with European grape varieties just over fifty years ago, the region offers similar climatic and environmental conditions to the Burgundy region of France; hence, the vineyards are planted with Riesling, chardonnay, cabernet franc, pinot noir and other popular grape varieties.

Some of the best producers in the area are like a best kept secret, because they sell mostly from their cellars, not seeking to export. Their wines, however, are superb, and their cellars range from the ultra modern to charming Old World. With dozens of beautiful, welcoming tasting rooms to visit across the area, there are some fine restaurants, hiking trails and cultural events that can be incorporated in daily or weekend drives. The area has charming villages to explore and gorgeous country inns to stay in.

The region’s famous ice wine, made from frozen grapes, is deliciously sweet and can be paired with dessert or softer cheeses.

The Niagara Wine Route connects the various wineries with villages and restaurants through the area, offering breathtaking drives along the shores of Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment.

Some popular wineries to visit:

Reif Estate Winery