Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Road Trip - Last stop, Wine Time!

I just realized I forgot to tell you all about our marathon winery day to cap off our summer vacation. My apologies! Niagara-on-the-Lake is about a 20 minute, scenic drive from the Falls. It's a quaint little town that's home to the Shaw Theatre Festival, umpteen B&B's and about a thousand wineries. None of these wineries export to the States (at least not that I've found) so we were ready to go load up! I think you can purchase online but where's the fun in that?

Reif Estate Winery

Our first stop and one of the very first wineries you come to on River Parkway from the Falls is the Reif Estate Winery. We had been here before but this was the first time we toured. $5/person got you a tour and 3 tastings, but you got a $5 discount on any bottles you purchase. We purchased a 2009 Cabernet Merlot blend here. It was delicious, even though I don't like Merlot.

Peller Estates

Peller Estates has some of the most gorgeous grounds of all the wineries. I've toured here before so this time we just tasted. Unfortunately once again, they were sold out of their extremely popular Baco Noir. I was pretty bummed about that. $7 for 3 tastings but then you got that off the price of a bottle as well. Service here was kind of impersonal but I remember the tour being very good. This time we purchased a 2010 Gamay Noir for a little something different.

Pillitteri Estates

This was our favorite stop! Pillitteri Estates Winery had been on our last trip but this time we also toured. Their tours were free and we were the only ones so we got to ask all kinds of questions and our tour guide was really knowledgeable. Another bonus here: free tastings! We liked everything we tried but they are most famous for their Riesling Gewurztraminer Fusion. Incidentally, besides ice wine, that is the one VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) bottle I've seen in the States. We purchased a 2010 Cabernet Franc that was amazing. I could have bought a lot more here.

Sunnybrook Farm Winery

When touring through Ontario's wine country, I suggest you try to visit a mix between larger estate wineries and smaller, personal niche wineries. Sunnybrook Farm Winery is one of the small ones. They are known for their array of fruit wines, all made with fruit and no grapes. Peach, cherry, apple, etc. No tours here but we tasted a few. $1/taste. They tasted like juice, but good juice. They had a wonderfully effervescent hard cider that we purchased as a gift and I'm kicking myself for not buying some for us.

Strewn Winery
Strewn Winery was a new one for us. We only tasted there, no tour, although I think there is a tour available. I can't remeber how much the tastes were but I forked over $4 in Canadian coins to cover it. We purchased a special white release for summer called the Cottage Block. We tasted all whites here and they were all good. I think we also bought a Riesling. We tried to balance our white and red purchases. There's also a cooking school and a restaurant here but the timing wasn't right for us to eat.

 Hillebrand was next. I totally forgot to take a picture here! It was our 6th stop so details got a little fuzzy. We bought a white here but I can't remember which one and I'm too lazy to go look in the wine rack. Sorry! They have a nice look restaurant here that we considered for dinner but didn't feel like leaving our wallets on the table. Yikes!


Here's one of the big guys. We toured Jackson-Triggs Winery last time so we just tasted here. Truthfully, we only stopped here because we had free tasting vouchers. One standout was a Sparkling Merlot. I mentioned above that Merlot is not my favorite but I'll try anything that seems interesting. It was different. The girl serving said that's what everyone says about it. We didn't purchase it and I don't regret that. We bought a Sparkling white instead. I can't remember what the variety was.

Inniskillin is also one of our favorite wineries. We toured last time and had a great tour, especially trying the $100 ice wine as a special treat. This time we didn't tour because we were short on time and while we love it, we only really tasted because we had free vouchers. Ask your concierge (wherever you stay) if they have any tasting vouchers. There is also a wine shop in the Fallsview Casino hotel that has free tasting vouchers. We stopped in there the first night and when I told her we were touring the next day, she handed over the goods. This time, we purchased the 2009 East-West Cabernet Shiraz. This was our 8th and final stop!

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the ever popular ice wine. Ice Wine is made from grapes that are harvested while frozen and pressed in December. It is an extremely sweet dessert wine. We love it but the bottles are PRICEY. It takes 10 times the amount of grapes to make a bottle of ice wine than a normal bottle (fact.) So, definitely try it when it's available but I have a hard time forking over $50 for a 375 mL bottle of wine. We did try it everywhere though. Yum!

And that's it!

Can't get enough wine info? Here's my post from our last trip there back in 2009.

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