Believe it or not, Ontario, Canada can rightly be called wine country as the Niagara Falls area is quickly becoming a favorite among oenophiles who want to experience their wine replete with majestic views and fantastic Canadian hospitality. With 25 wineries located a short 15- to 20-minute drive of the Falls, wine lovers will find no shortage of tastings and touring options.
Don’t bother heading across the pond or venturing to the United States’ western coast. Whether you love Icewines or gewürztraminers, merlots or red zinfandels, Canada’s Niagara Falls region has excellent wine. Here’s a closer look at some of the more notable wineries in this agriculturally lush area.
Inniskillin was the first winery licensed in Canada when Prohibition had finally run its course. Committed to sound agricultural practices that enhance and sustain the land and the practice of winemaking, each of its wines is VQA certified, so you can be assured of the integrity and authenticity of each bottle and appellation produced. In addition to making some of Canada’s best wines, visiting Inniskillin is also a special treat. Not only are its grounds and buildings beautiful, but the tours blend tastings, history and food, making a unique and unforgettable experience.
One of the Niagara region’s newest wineries, Southbrook is also one of its most environmentally sound. Their main hospitality building is LEED Gold-certified, and Southbrook’s owners and founders have solid and committed roots in farming. Their vineyards span 150 acres with 100-percent organically produced grapes, and all their wine meets VQA standards. They were named InterVin’s 2012 Winery of the Year and produce excellent Bordeaux-style blends, cabernet sauvignons and chardonnays.
Peller Estates Winery
A VQA-designated winery, Peller Estates is award-winning and family-owned and -operated. The first Peller arrived from Hungary in 1927 in western Canada and went to work on his dream of producing fantastic Canadian wine. The family business and vineyards moved east in 1969, and today, Peller Estates is known for its tremendous commitment to excellent wine. They were recently named the Best Canadian Winery of the Year at London’s International Wine and Spirit Competition, and their award-winning wines include icewine, chardonnay and riesling. Their wines come in three series: signature, private reserve and heritage.
Pillitteri Estates Winery
Another family-owned and -operated vineyard, the Pillitteri family has been in the wine business since 1993. A 100-acre vineyard, they produce what is arguably the finest VQA icewine in Canada. The winery also boasts an impressive wine cellar — 1,350 metric tons of concrete were used in its construction. The centerpiece of the barrel cellar is a massive concrete table that is 500 inches long and surrounded by 23 wall-mounted steel chairs that tell the story of the Pillitteri family through engravings and dates. All the barrel aging of the fine Pillitteri wines takes place in the cellar in French and American Oak barrels.
Home to the Niagara region’s only cooking school, the Strewn Winery gives guests a unique touring opportunity that focuses on understanding the traditions of stringency associated with VQA wines. The winery also boasts an onsite restaurant, Terroir La Cachette, which offers a regularly rotating menu of fresh and locally sourced items, and you can be sure that their wine-pairing recommendations are spot-on.
Chateau des Charmes
Founded in 1978, this winery is run by a fifth-generation French winegrower. With a strong focus on sustainable farming practices across its four vineyards, Chateau des Charmes is a benchmark winery among Canadian wines. They have 30 vintages and produce 18 wines — all of them notable. They were also the first winery in the area to build a center with visitors and tastings in mind, which means they are old hands at offering first-rate tour experiences for guests.
No matter what kind of wine you enjoy, Canada’s wine country has something for you. These wineries capture both imagination and titillate senses. The next time you consider heading out on a wine lover’s excursion, put Niagara Falls on your list. From the commitment to sustainable agriculture to the accompanying world-renowned breathtaking views, vacationing in and enjoying Canada’s wine country is any oenophile’s dream vacation.
About the Author: Jess Bailey is a contributing writer and experienced oenophile who has frequented Canada’s wine country and knows that Niagara Falls Hotel Deals is your source for Niagara Falls Hotels.