For the past four years, the boyfriend and I have made a trip (or two) to the Niagara region to check out the local wineries and then eventually make a stop at the Falls. Usually we’ve gone in the fall, which is a beautiful time of year there, but this time he had some work in the area so we went this past Saturday.
It was a beautiful late summer day, just perfect for checking out some wineries and touring around. As usual, the boyfriend is my dedicated and awesome designated driver. We’ve taken a guided tour before, but it can be quite expensive and most of the companies take you to places you’ve already been. So, I become entrusted with the tastings, which I’m not complaining about at all. ;)
Our first stop was Forty Creek Distillery, which is a locally made whisky that both of us have enjoyed a few times. It’s actually a favourite of the boyfriend’s, so we finally decided it was time to check it out. We arrived way too early for a tour, so we hung out at the tasting bar and learned about the distillery from the very friendly and helpful guy working the counter. I love when we go to these places and encounter people who seem to really like working there and are passionate about the product. We really learn a lot from these people. I tasted their Barrel Select, Honey Spiced, and a maple whisky liqueur which was amazing. I seriously wanted this stuff to make boozy pancakes… ice cream… deserts… etc. The last whisky I tried was their Confederation Oak reserve, which was incredibly smooth but still filled with lots of flavour. This visit definitely gave me the urge to visit more distilleries in the future!
Next up was a stop at Peninsula Ridge Estates. This winery sits atop a gorgeous piece of land facing rows and rows of grapes and also has a view of downtown Toronto across Lake Ontario. At this winery I tried a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, and Syrah. These wines were quite nice and subtle, with the Unoaked Inox Chardonnay being my favourite. If you like light reds, then the Syrah Reserve would be a good choice – be sure to add some awesome cheeses to really bring out the flavours. Actually, I almost forgot – I tried their Cabernet Franc Ice Wine and it was amazing. Of course, ice wines are an acquired taste, but ever since I tried my first red a few years ago, I just can’t resist.
Up next was Hidden Bench winery, which was on a beautiful, quiet piece of land in Beamsville. Their patio looked so casual and inviting that I wish we had extra time to be able to sit and enjoy a glass, but I was happy to visit their tasting room instead. The gal working there was very friendly and informative, which I love when I enter a winery. Sometimes wine touring can feel intimidating because you wonder if you’ll be judged about how little or how much you know about wine. So, I love when I go to a place and they are not pretentious. Here I tried the Riesling, Chardonnay, Rosé, and Terroir Caché red. The Riesling was dry, crisp, and hardly a hint of sweetness, which I really liked. Also, the Terroir Caché was bold and full of flavour, quite a nice red which will be perfect for comforting fall meals.
Lastly, we made a stop at a relatively new winery called KEW. We stopped on a whim and I have to say that it was my favourite visit of the day. The tasting room is set inside a gorgeous old house that you can’t help but love. They also have a beautiful patio with a great view of the vines. Seriously, the best service of the day goes to this place. The gal helping us was friendly and you could really tell her passion for the wines by the information she provided. I enjoyed our conversations with her very much as I was able to take my time tasting their wines. Here I tried the Blanc de Noir sparkling wine, Marsanne Viognier, and Soldier’s Grant red. I found all three of these to be exceptional and full of flavour, but the Marsanne was a phenomenal surprise to me. Since I’m not well versed in wine talk, I can’t properly describe it, but I can tell you that it was delicious and definitely an all year round type of wine. I really enjoyed my experience at this winery and will probably plan to stop by next year to check out what’s new next season.
After our delightful time wine touring, we headed into Niagara Falls where I was left to pass the time while the boyfriend worked. I spent a few hours by the Falls people watching, seeing my first Elvis impersonator, and just listening to the rumble of the water. I will tell you that listening to the Falls is probably one of my favourite things. Such a powerful sound that you can’t help but feel amazed by nature. Of course… that’s if you can hear them over the huge amounts of people. ;) I kid of course, but there seriously were tons and tons of people there Saturday evening and it became a little overwhelming for this introvert. I also checked out the Fallsview Casino for the first time and boy was that place crowded too! I had a great time hanging out in Niagara, but by the time the boyfriend picked me up I was exhausted. A little too much of the crowds, noise, and drunks for me as the night went on. (Am I getting old?!)
Even with the end of the day exhaustion, it was still nice to get out of Toronto for the day. Wine country was peaceful and relaxing, while the city balanced that out with its craziness. Overall, a really nice way to spend a Saturday and a rest day. I now have a little stash of wine for the fall to enjoy… I might just share it with the boyfriend. :)
How are you spending your last few summer weekends?