See five Niagara wineries to visit, picked by Lonely Planet in their new book Wine Trails.
Five Niagara wineries to visit
- Wine Trails: Niagara travel guide
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Inniskillin is a foundational estate for modern Niagara; when it received its winery licence in 1975, it was the first to have done so in decades, and it helped kick off the new growth we’re witnessing today. Inniskillin was central in helping identify Niagara with sweet ice wine – and is still most famous for its ice wines of Riesling, Vidal and Cabernet Franc. However, it produces a very wide range of still wines, white and red, in multiple tiers of quality. It is obviously a larger producer with multiple interests, but a visit and tasting here is essential to understanding Niagara’s past and present. Located just a few minutes off the Niagara River, up Line 3 Rd, enter the estate’s stately white gates for a warm welcome; the grounds include a wine bar and a casual seasonal grill.
www.inniskillin.com; tel +1 905-468-2187; 1499 Line 3 Niagara Pkwy, Niagara-on-the-Lake; 10am-6pm summer, to 5pm winter
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02 FROGPOND FARM
Opened in 2001, Frogpond Farm is proud of being ‘Ontario’s first organically certified winery’; since 2006, the facilities have been fully powered by ‘green’ electricity derived from wind and water. As such, it represents one of the many viable directions for the future of Niagara winemaking. Currently, its wines are fairly evenly divided between white and red, including two hybrid wines, from Vidal and Chambourcin. The dry, Alsatian-style Rieslings are of special note.
www.frogpondfarm.ca; tel +1 905-468-1079; 1385 Larkin Rd, Niagaraon-the-Lake; 11am-6pm summer, to 5pm winter
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03 RAVINE VINEYARD ESTATE WINERY
Just a few blocks south of Frogpond Farm, this is a new estate (2008) located on an old farm (1867). Fifth-generation owner Norma Jane Harber and her husband Blair work with winemaker Martin Warner to produce a fairly wide range of well-known international varietals – Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The Cabernet Franc, however, is probably their finest wine – and one of Ontario’s best – thanks to the warmth of their sites. Make sure to taste their two bottlings in the cask room.
Here, you can participate in a range of themed visits, suited to your interests, such as a Historical Tour or a Winemaking Tour, or a private tasting. There is also an excellent farm-to-table restaurant, which might be the real star of the whole project.
www.ravinevineyard.com; tel +1 905-262-8463; 1366 York Rd, St Davids; themed tours multiple times daily
04 PEARL MORISSETTE
Partner Mel Pearl and winemaker François Morissette represent one of the few, and finest, estates to ask ‘which grape varietal expresses the best wine for Niagara?’ and act on it. To discover the answer, they’ve spared little effort or expense. Burgundy-trained François works with over 12 hectares (30 acres) of Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling from two separate vineyards (and appellations) of variable age. The cellar is one of the coolest in Canada: filled with a host of different ageing vessels, it speaks of a restless search for the finest wine. Pearl Morissette’s high quality, however, is mostly due to the vines’ impeccable management – if you visit between spring and autumn, ask for a vineyard tour – and don’t forget to ask about the swimming pool. Pearl Morissette is located just east of Tawse Vineyard, up Highway 81.
www.pearlmorissette.com; tel +1 905-562-4376; 3953 Jordan Rd, Jordan; Sat & Sun by appointment
05 TAWSE WINERY
Tawse is one of Niagara’s most recognised estates (garnering multiple awards), and one of the largest. Ten varietals are planted in six vineyards over a whopping 80 hectares (200 acres), and are bottled in a wide stylistic range: sparkling, white, rosé, red and dessert. The vineyard practices include a combination of organic and biodynamic methods. The property itself is both grandiose and intimate: a wide driveway leads past manicured lawns, a smart fountain and tree-lined meadows to an impeccably equipped tasting room with a wrap-around bar (where it’s easy to mingle with other travellers), and a Euro-style barrel cellar. While here, don’t forget to check out the aromatic, tropical Quarry Road Gewürztraminer and the plush Estate Gamay Noir.
www.tawsewinery.ca; tel +1 905-562-9500; 3955 Cherry Ave, Vineland; 10am-5pm Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm Sat & Sun
Reproduced with permission from Wine Trails, 1st edn. © 2015 Lonely Planet.