As a local resident of Niagara, it is of upmost convenience that I am a wine lover; in the Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada there are approximately 100 wineries! As a luxury travel blogger I always want to know the best locations to suit my niche and since I live here and know what I love, why not share it with the world? We actually have a couple of areas that are very close together for the majority of our wineries; for today’s blog I am going to focus on the Niagara-on-the-Lake area specifically.
First off, I should give you a bit of information on our area; we are known all over the world for the iconic Niagara Falls of course and people always recognize exactly the location when you mention the famous and of course spectacular waterfalls in my hometown. But did you also know that we are one of the world’s best wine makers? Unfortunately we are not well known in the international wine market as our wines do not get shipped past Canadian borders for the most part. However, if you get the chance; you should definitely come and try our award winning wines.
So what is the reason we make such fabulous wines? I am glad you asked; this area is bordered by Lake Ontario and the Niagara River, our climate is moderated and temperatures are generally warmer so that grapes ripen very well. An earlier Spring means our grapes have a longer growing season, resulting in ripeness at harvest and better depth of flavour in our wines. Warm days and cool nights result in wines that have a balance of ripe fruit and acidity, making them excellent companions to food.
Now I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wine that we are most famous for, and that is our world famous Icewine. Have you ever thought about doing a winter cold weather vacation and are a winery lover? Winter in Niagara is Icewine Festival time and a unique experience for sure; so many events are hosted surrounding our Icewine celebrations for an entire month, I promise you will not be bored. Do you know what Icewine is? Icewine is a sweet wine, usually served with dessert, that is made from frozen grapes; it is very expensive because of the process. The grapes must be picked at the exact right temperature conditions; when the temperature reaches -8 Celsius, (about 20 Fahrenheit), the grapes are hand picked or shaken from the vines. It is not uncommon for this to take place in the middle of the night! The grapes are then pressed when they are still cold, and it takes a lot of grapes to produce even one bottle, which is why a bottle comes with a hefty price tag.
So now that you know all about our wine region and are dying to visit I will share with you my picks for the most luxurious and elegant wineries located in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
1. Two Sisters Vineyards Niagara
My first pick is Two Sisters Vineyards Niagara, from the moment you turn into the driveway you will feel like you are somewhere special; lined with beautiful trees and the glimpse of the elegant building at the end just gives you the feeling that you are somewhere special. This winery features award winning wines, luxurious decor, a wonderful Italian cuisine restaurant and a patio in behind with magnificent views.o in behind with magnificent views.
2. Peller Estates Winery
My next pick is Peller Estates, and it is one of my very favourite wineries; it is elegant and luxurious and you will not be sorry you visited this gem! The winner of Ontario Winery of the Year in 2018, it is easy to see why when you visit. This property has two restaurants, one is an elegant farm-to-table wine country cuisine paired with award winning Peller Estates wines, a magnificent view and outdoor patio seating available. The other is a casual but upscale Grill, outdoor seating as well with those same stunning views of their incredible vineyard. A very unique experience that you will not want to miss is the igloo-like lounge, the 10Below Icewine Lounge to sample the icewine in an appropriate setting.
3. Chateau des Charmes
Chateau des Charmes is a winery of firsts for the Niagara Region, it was the first to experiment with European vitis vinifera grapes and the first in Canada to open a commercial vineyard to visitors. It is vast and elegant and you may feel like you have been transported to France when you step inside. This one is a must visit to experience its wonderful wine and luxurious presence.
4. Riverbend Inn and Vineyard
Imagine being able to sleep right at the Vineyard? Well that is what you get with this amazing property; a spectacular Georgian mansion surrounded by 17 acres of vineyards, manicured lawns and gardens, it is a sight to behold and elegance is everywhere you look. The most unique feature is that the property is indeed a beautiful Inn, and how convenient is that for your home base to explore our wine country? Beautiful accommodations, a top notch restaurant and an Antique bar where you can sip Riverbend wine is a win win in my humble opinion.
5. Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery
Another one of my personal favourites, Ravine Winery is a cozy but elegant Estate situated on a fifth generation family farm and is know for its organic vineyards, award-winning culinary experiences, and one of my favourite features; a wood burning pizza oven surrounded by an outdoor bar looking over the gorgeous vineyards. They have a little grocery store right on site that you can easily purchase some wonderful cheese and of course a bottle of wine and enjoy it right in the vineyard. They also have a restaurant and bar with cozy farmhouse decor and amazing cuisine, make sure you put this one on the list!
6. Wayne Gretzky Estates
Did you know Wayne Gretzky knows wine and whiskey as well as hockey? Easily the most popular winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake this Estate has something for everyone. On one side is the Winery boasting photos of Wayne during his hockey career and on the other is the cozy whiskey distillery and bar. Out behind the winery is a beautiful pond which doubles as a skating rink in the winter, along with lots of outdoor seating including a giant fire pit and muskoka chairs. If you are hungry there is a little outdoor restaurant serving grill style food and it is actually very delicious. Oh wait I forgot to mention, they have even added craft beer into the mix, so be sure to check out the beer garden while you are there.
7. Jackson Triggs Estate Winery
Jackson Triggs is a beautiful and one of the most technologically advanced winemaking facilities in Canada and its modern architecture will impress you I am sure. A unique feature to this winery is the amphitheatre, hosting seasonal concert performances of the some of the best Canadian musical talent. This winery also hosts occassional cellar dinner experiences as well, and who would not want to have dinner in a wine cellar!
8. Konzelmann Estate Winery
Konzelmann is a beautiful winery with the feature of being the only winery in Niagara located directly on the lake, it is located on the shores of Lake Ontario and the views from their viewing tower is definitely not to be missed. Make sure you visit this gem and if you are a peach lover be sure to try the peach wine, you won’t be sorry that you did!
9. Trius Winery and Restaurant
Another property of the Peller family, Trius is Iconic in that this winery burst onto the international wine scene in 1991 when the Trius Red became the first Canadian wine vintage to be recognized as the Best Red Wine in the World and continues to raise the bar ever since. This property also hosts an incredible restaurant with wine pairings and fabulous cuisine and in season you can even have a seat in the Wine Garden featuring the beautiful Vineyard Views.
10. Inniskillin Wines
The final winery on my list is Inniskillin, it is Canada’s original Estate Winery, and has been committed to producing premium wines from the best quality grapes for over 40 years. The first winery to receive a winery license after prohibition and was instrumental in developing Canada’s VQA system. At this Winery you will enjoy an idyllic view of the Niagara Escarpment while sipping on your wine and make sure you try the Icewine at this location; it is known to be one of the very best.
So that sums up my picks; I hope that you were able to use some of my experience as a local to pick your future itinerary and perhaps I have inspired you to plan a future trip to visit our beautiful wine country yourself!