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  • Writer's pictureJen 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

Founded by Ewald Reif in 1977, the winery is famous for its ice wine and cabernets. Its wines have won many awards over the years. They organize daily events with tastings in their historic coach house.

Marynissen Estates Winery

The region’s soul and climate is highlighted in the flavor of Marynissen’s single varietal 2015 Cabernet Franc. The winery is home to the oldest commercial planting of the Cabernet Sauvignon variety in Canada.

Trius Winery

Known for their magnificent sparkling wines, Trius won a gold medal at the British Sparkling Wine World Championships in 2015, for their NV Trius Bruit. Enjoy a lavish meal in their beautiful dining room.

Inniskiliin Wines

This is one of the oldest and largest wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake and their ice wine, made from Riesling grapes, is famous. The estate has some beautifully restored historical buildings, including their Brae Burn Barn tasting room, and the Founder’s Hall, an exclusive dining forum.

Peller Estates Winery & Restaurant

In their icy tasting room, appropriately called ‘10 Below’, you can taste some of their finest wines, otherwise enjoy their patio or dine on some tasty local food. The Andrew Peller Signature Series Ice Cuvee is one of their most awarded wines.

I have limited my choice to five, but don’t limit your search to only these. The more you explore across the region, the more you will understand why wine experts around the world are thrilled with the wines coming from the Niagara Region.

What is your favourite Niagara wine? Let me know in the comments below.

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