North America

Niagara-on-the-Lake is Ontario’s Wine Country

The Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake are an oasis for wine lovers | Photo credit: Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara Falls bound?
On your way, enjoy a Niagara Region vintner’s tour

Ontario wineries have already firmly established themselves as producers of superb vintages.

Southern Ontario is an ideal environment where award-winning wines are produced (Ontario’s wine region shares the same latitude as California’s Mendocino Valley and similar regions in France, Italy and Spain).

During the summer and autumn, you can enjoy both the wines and the countryside as you make your way through Ontario’s Niagara Region. A stop in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region will provide memorable entertainment, fine dining and, of course, a marvelous experience imbibing of award-winning wines.

Big or Small: Tour them All

Niagara Winery Tours

With mega and micro wineries succeeding in viticulture around the world, a tour and tasting are now an option at almost all the region’s cellars. Narrowing tour options is important because in wine and wine touring it’s the quality not the quantity that counts.

Some visitors may narrow their winery search by opting to visit award-winning wineries. Most Niagara wineries publicize their prizewinners well, but visitors can also check to pick and choose their touring options.

An easy one stop planning solution is to book a group of tours with a tour company. This saves driving and having to locate each winery. Some companies provide only transportation; others provide experts with a solid background in the winery industry.

Crush Wine Tours is a ‘hand-crafted’ wine tour company, providing daily guided van tours to both the Bench wineries of the Niagara Escarpment and the wineries of Niagara-on- the-Lake, Ontario. Tours are typically half day, four hour excursions with morning or afternoon departures. Grape and Wine Tours is another company that can plan the most efficient, timesaving tour for two or more visitors.

When booking any tour, remember to arrange pick up and drop off details and ask if there is a lot of walking or physical activity involved. Once you’ve booked you tour, start researching wine questions – tour guides love to be challenged.

Wineries have long been associated with culinary excellence, but are now also becoming the new venue for the arts in Ontario. Everything from jazz to Shakespeare to colourful paintings get an airing among the ripening grapes.

Ontario wineries are creating vineyard arts communities and the success of these au naturel amphitheatres is no surprise — any playwright or composer would be proud to have their work performed in the stunning sun and greenery that is the local industry’s calling card. You can check in advance whether any or several area vineyards are featuring any special events. Tastings are still the most intimate way to explore a winery, but these special arts are a midsummer night’s fancy comes to life.

Still, the show is really the soundtrack to the wine, which is the real reason to celebrate this distinctive region. Ontario wines keep rising to the top of the international connoisseurs’ palate, and whether you are appreciative of the art of wine making, or simply want to learn, you will be pleased that you spent some time learning this unique culture.

Top Ten Touring Tips

  1. Designate a driver who will not drink alcohol, or take an organized tour.
  2. Don’t rush…limit your visit to two or three wineries each day.
  3. Don’t feel obligated to drink every ounce that’s poured.
  4. Remember to eat as food helps to metabolize alcohol.
  5. Avoid chewing gum or wearing strong scents — both affect the taste of the wine.
  6. Bring a cooler so you can purchase new wines you like that are only available at the winery.
  7. Feel free to ask questions of the winemakers and staff who are happy to share their knowledge.
  8. Make notes of wines you taste and enjoy.
  9. Take the time to enjoy other places of interest along the wine route.
  10. Have fun!

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