You Want Wine?

You want wine, wine tours, wine tastings, wine festivals? Do you want a little wine with your wine? Come to Niagara then, we have more than 100 wineries here from Grimsby through Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls, most of them open for tours and other events.

Canadian golfer and Masters tournament winner Mike Weir has a winery here. So does Dan Aykroyd, the Ghostbuster. The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, is here too. Wine production and grape growing isn’t just big business in Niagara, it is one of the most tourist-friendly industries as well.

Wine has been made in Ontario for a few hundred years, and not even Prohibition stopped it (wineries were allowed to stay open for the export market). Things really took off in 1975 when Inniskillin Wines in Niagara-on-the-Lake was granted Ontario’s first new winery licence in nearly 50 years.

“Took off” isn’t a strong enough description, actually. “Exploded” is more accurate and today many people from all across North America come to Niagara specifically for the wine experience. More than just a simple trip to the company store, wine tourism these days can involve vineyard tours, restaurants,  tastings, picnics, on-site festivals, concerts and live theatre.

Niagara is particularly suited for growing cool-climate grape varieties such as Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Gamay Noir, and more than 30 varieties in total are grown here. Fortunately for us (and for visiting tourists), Niagara is the world leader in producing icewine because its climate is suited for producing it in every vintage, according to the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Fund.

To help you plan a visit to a winery or three in Niagara, trying Googling “best Niagara wines to visit” and you’ll see numerous options. Expect to be at each property for a couple of hours at least and be sure to bring some sun protection with you. These tours are family-friendly.

One thing: Leave your biases at home to get the full enjoyment. Sampling is easy at the wine stores, so let your imagination wander. Don’t limit yourself to your tried and true list.

The Niagara Wine Route was created a few years ago to showcase all of the wineries the region has to offer. It takes you all across Niagara’s wine territory, mostly on scenic country roads so the route is good for car trips or for cyclists who are up for a little sunshine and distance.

The Skylon Tower has paired the finest wines in Niagara to each meal featured in our Ontario Wine list menu of Sparkling, White and Niagara Reds.

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