After spending months living in Toronto, I had the opportunity to spend an abundance of time exploring the beautiful province of Ontario. Coming from the West, I was used to hiking through the Rocky Mountains, wandering through the forest, and cruising down countryside dirt roads. I was a bit surprised by the rushed lifestyle in the busy streets of Toronto, that I escaped out into the rural surroundings as much as possible. This allowed me to truly experience the wonderful culture that Ontario represents and soak in the vast Great Lakes, cascading waterfalls, historic National Parks, and charming friendly towns.
My top place to visit again and again was Niagara-on-the-Lake. I like to think of this quaint little area as the Banff Town of the East. You can spend a whole day stopping by all the cute boutiques and cafes as well as hiking countless surrounding trails. I soon realized this area was famous for wineries and vineyards speckled throughout the entire region.
The best thing about the region is that you can visit the vineyards all year round! The summer months are the most popular as you can do a variety of bicycle wine tours. It’s a great way to pass a relaxing day, soaking in the summer, taking in the vineyard views, and tasting some of the finest wines along the way!
In the winter months, the region produces a very special wine called Ice Wine (also known as liquid gold 😉) which is made when the grapes freeze at -10 degrees Celsius. The grapes are then pressed and create a sweeter, thicker version of wine! The Niagara region holds a festival each year for this specific wine which happens mid-January! Being a wine lover, I had to check out as many places as I could and have compiled a list of a few of my favourites!
Between the Lines Winery
I visited the Between the Lines Winery on my last trip to the Niagara region, right before Christmas. I was welcomed to their ‘Cup & Cookie’ event where I got to try some freshly made mulled wine, red wines, and ice wines (and nibble on a couple cookies)! The rustic décor is very welcoming, and the staff was very friendly and informative. I got to hear the story of how two German brothers came to Niagara full of passion and motivation to show the world what this region has to offer!
My favourite part of this winery: The friendly atmosphere and the best mulled wine I have ever tasted!
Book your tour for Between the Lines here!
I visited Trius Winery during the end of summer for a tour and tasting. Our guide took us to a lovely private setup with a view of the pond and vineyard. We had a wine lesson on how to properly see quality, smell, and taste the wine.
My favourite part of this winery: Beautiful view during tasting & amazing sparkling wine!
Book your tour for Trius Wines here!
Peller Estates is one of the more known wineries within the region, but it definitely deserves a spot on the list! This is a great place to spend a few hours on a tour as well as at the restaurant. Tours can be held in the vineyard or right at the bar where you can learn about growing, pairing, and serving.
They also have a winter ‘igloo’ lounge, constructed from over 13,000 kilos of ice and kept at -10 degrees Celsius – for a sampling of their famous Ice Wine!
My favourite part of this winery: 10Below Icewine Lounge
Book your tour for Peller Estates here!
Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery & Distillery
I also stopped by here during the winter months as they have a great outdoor setup which offers ice skating, outdoor tours, and a heated outdoor restaurant! The Wayne Gretzky Estates is the regions only winery and distillery where you can sample delicious wines and whiskey all in the same place.
My favourite part of this winery: Outdoor skating & wine/whiskey tour
Book your tour for Wayne Gretzky Estates here!
Jackson – Triggs Niagara Estate
Jackson – Triggs is one of the oldest wineries, has won many national competitions and has two locations, one in Niagara-on-the-Lake and one in the Okanagan Valley. They offer a variety of summer and winter tours which also include food pairings!
My favourite part of this winery: Outdoor events/concerts at the amphitheater
Book your tour for Jackson-Triggs here!
Thinking of exploring Toronto as well? Check out my guide to Toronto here!