Some Favourite Niagara Wines
Following up on my recent post about Thanksgiving traditions, I want to share with you some of my favourite wineries in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area. If you have not been to this part of Ontario then you are missing out. It is a short 90-minute drive from Toronto and has some great wineries to explore.
I blogged a while back about a growing interest in scotch and whiskies and I would put wine in that same category. While I may not be as knowledgeable as others, wine is another alcohol that I could not stand growing up but my tastebuds have matured allowing me to enjoy different wines. Here are some of my favourite wineries and wines to try.
Just to give you an idea of how good the quality is in Niagara, according to the Grape Growers of Ontario:
Niagara is located between 41-degrees and 44-degrees north latitude. Niagara is on the same latitudinal band as Provence and Langeudoc-Roussillon in France, the Chianti Classico region in Italy and the Rioja region in Spain. In North America, the same latitudinal band runs through Oregon State’s wine region, California’s Mendocino Valley at its southernmost border, and Washington State’s Yakima Valley at its northernmost border.
Monthly temperatures in Niagara are similar to those in Bordeaux and Burgundy in France. The moderating effects of Lakes Ontario and Erie, and the protective influence of the Niagara Escarpment, creates an area of moderate temperatures during spring and summer growing seasons. Its rich and fertile soils and unique microclimate are suitable for growing Vitis vinifera grapes, making Niagara a prime grape-growing region. Niagara has 13,600 acres under vine. The grape growing area stretches from Niagara-on-the-Lake in the east to Grimsby in the west.
When I was last in Niagara-on-the-Lake in 2018 or 2019, we visited Ravine Vineyard for the first time and came away incredibly impressed. The best time to go would be on a summer weekday where you can sit outside and enjoy the sprawling scenery because it is beautiful there. However, if you cannot get out during the week, or in the summer, the fall is another great time to go.
If you could only come away with one wine, I would suggest their Small Batch Riesling. This is a very light wine that is versatile and can be paired with almost any food or snack. My wife and I enjoyed this with a charcuterie board of cheeses and meats. The winery recommends other items, and it is always good to follow their instructions, but we found this pairing worked well.
If you want to feel like you are visiting an Italian villa, say hello to Colaneri Estates! When you drive up to the main building, you are taken aback by how large the building is and how much it looks like something that has been brought over from Italy. When you go inside, you see why it is worth a visit.
When you are in the tasting room, it overlooks the production floor so you have a bird’s eye view on how the wine is made. If you can believe it, the production floor only takes up a portion of the entire building with room to expand. While the production space is huge, the tasting area feels a bit more cozy and warm like you are alone with friends.
What is in the bottle is what matters most but one of the things I love about Colaneri is their label art. The drawings are beautiful and, if I remember correctly, it is drawn by one of the family members. Each drawing has its own meaning. If you click on the link above it will take you to the page where they explain what each one means.
I have now visited the winery three or four times and there is one wine I enjoy above all else, their Corposo – Ripasso style. I will admit that my wife is a big influence here. This is also a style she enjoys and introduced me to as we went on winery tours. Like the white wine from Ravine, this is another versatile vino that goes with almost anything. The taste is delicious and it does not linger too long, which is nice for me because I do not like it when you have a lingering after taste.
Full disclosure here, this is where I proposed to my wife and the staff at the winery are amazing, so it has a soft spot in my heart. Even if this did not happen, the wine here is fantastic. This winery sits right on the waterfront in Niagara-on-the-Lake and you can see the Toronto skyline from the grounds. The main building is beautiful with several tasting rooms for tours. Since the proposal, we have been back once but also bought sparkling wine for our wedding toast. It is so good that we shared it with our family and friends.
I am going to get right to it. I love their Sparkling Riesling. This winery has a lot of great wines to try, and their junk food pairing session is something you should try when you visit, but for me it comes back to the sparkling wine. It is easy on the tongue and does not have a strong after taste. It does have some bite initially because of its tartness but it goes well with quite a few foods and snacks. While we had this sparkling wine at our wedding as our toasting wine, we have also enjoyed this wine with desserts and charcuterie boards as well. I would not say it is as versatile as the other wines above but if you have chocolate or seafood, you cannot go wrong.
Have you visited Niagara-on-the-Lake and any of the wineries? Do you have a favourite? Tell me all about your experience in the comments below.