Length of stay: 1 day
Visited: October 2016
Niagara is referred to the honeymoon capital of the world. It is perhaps best known for it’s waterfall that shares the same name as its city – Niagara Falls. Although technically Niagara Falls refers to three waterfalls: Bridal Veil Falls, American Falls, and (the most famous of the three) Horseshoe Falls. Collectively they form one of the largest waterfall networks on the planet.
But Niagara is also known for being one of the largest grape growing regions across Canada. The Niagara Peninsula is nestled between the Niagara Escarpment and Lake Ontario making for ideal conditions for wine making. The climate is moderated year round – the escarpment shelters the vineyards in the winter while the lake cools the vineyards in the summer. The Niagara wine region also lies at the same latitude as other famous wine regions such as Bordeaux France. Together these conditions create some delicious delicious wine.
On our day-visit to the Niagara region we first stopped at Peller Estates – which is part Andrew Peller Limited, one of the largest producers of wine in Canada. They offer a variety of tastings and tours, but we decided to sign up for their “Greatest Winery Tour” because as the name suggests, it sounded like the greatest. The tour involved strolling through the estate vineyard while sampling wine as our guide explained the history of winemaking in the Peller family.
We then made our way inside to the Barrel Cellar where we sampled a glass of red wine paired with some dark chocolate and listened while our guide went over the barrelling process.
To finish off our tour we donned winter jackets and mittens (which were graciously supplied by Peller Estates) and stepped inside the 10 Below Lounge – a celler made entirely of ice. As its name suggests, the temperature inside the cellar are held constant at -10ºC to harvest their supply of icewine. We sampled a glass of their vidal ice wine as our guide shared some fun facts about the ice bar and how ice wine is made. This tour was definitely worth the $15 per person. We finished the tour up at the gift shop where we ended up purchasing a bottle of the vidal icewine we sampled as well as a bottle of their Riesling.
From there we drove down to Inniskillin, a winery well known for its award winning ice wine. For this winery we just participated in a tasting rather than a tour. And our tasting consisted entirely of ice wines. We sampled a vidal ice wine, and oak aged vidal ice wine, and a sparkling vidal ice wine. Since we were pretty much the only people up at the ice wine tasting bar the samples were quite generous. Afterwards we needed to wander around the estate for a bit to walk off all the icewine we sampled.
No stop to Niagara is complete without visiting Niagara Falls. Well, that’s not entirely true. Sure, it’s one impressive waterfall (or rather waterfalls), but good luck finding parking. Especially parking where you don’t have to fork over $18. And if you do manage to find parking good luck navigating through the swarms of people. We did manage to find free parking. Or at least we thought it was free. We walked around for as long as we could tolerate the crowds until turning back.