Driving past the open fields of green, beautiful vineyards with windows rolled down catching the perfectly crisp and cool breeze while the sun kisses my face; me and my husbands favourite playlist crooning in the background with blissful palates after sampling some amazing wine and food…
It does not get any better than this.
This past long Civic Holiday weekend, my husband and I had one of the best times we’ve had in a while courtesy of Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
We spent 2 days touring and tasting at some fantastic Wineries at Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Our first stop was at Inniskillin.
A respected pioneer and very popular winery at NOTL, Inniskillin offers picturesque views, public & private tours, wine-tasting (of course) and their Market Grill offering an array of tasty dishes made on the premises with only local and fresh ingredients including their very own Inniskillin wine!
We learned so much during our tour and I fell smitten with their underground cellar. Such a great place to host intimate events.
Wineries always make for the perfect romantic spot. There’s just something about wine, isn’t there?
We learned a great deal during our private tour and indulged in some delicious and fresh Market Grill grub complete with wine-tasting hidden in the vineyards underneath a staple Inniskillin red umbrella.
It was the perfect setting for an al fresco lunch.
One thing that I was taught during our tour was about VQA. Prior to this I had no clue what that VQA sticker on my wine bottles meant.
VQA stands for Vintners Quality Alliance. VQA Ontario is an independent authority that establishes and monitors the province’s “appellation of origin” system. All countries that produce wine have similar systems, which define their best grape-growing regions and set standards for their wines. In this province, that’s the VQA’s job.
When you see VQA Ontario on a bottle, it means the wine is made from 100% Ontario-grown grapes, which have been approved through a strict quality-assurance program.
Now you know!
The 2nd winery we visited was Stratus Vineyards.
Mixing contemporary chic with classic, the architecture alone of Stratus will have you think you were walking into a trendy wine museum.
I absolutely loved the outside patio overlooking the vineyards — so swank and serene.
After an informative tour, we were guided into a room with floor to ceiling windows with the gorgeous vineyards in the backdrop for wine-tasting.
Following our visit to Stratus, we headed into the quaint and charming town of Niagara-on-the-Lake and checked into the beautiful and historic Prince of Wales Hotel located right in the heart of it all.
It’s the perfect location!
Prince of Wales Hotel:http://www.vintage-hotels.com/princeofwales/
Stepping into the hotel you will be amazed by the classic lavishness adorned with beautiful art and decor pieces.
Not only was the hotel stunning, but the rooms provided the comfort we needed after a long day of wine-tasting. Classic and Comforting.
We later had dinner right inside the hotel at Escabèche, located on their main floor.
Dashing ambiance and a very delectable menu is what makes this four-diamond restaurant memorable.
And also our live entertainment that came in the form of our comedic waiter, Brad.
All restaurants should have a “Brad”. He was not only quick and courteous but he made me chuckle many times (which is not easy to do!).
Everything was delicious but I have to say the big winner was the Cream Cheese Leek Crostata with Bacon Jam. Mmm, mmm, good. I am still salivating over it!
Too bad it’s a 2 hour drive from my home otherwise I would be placing an order stat.
We will reunite soon.
After a restful evening, Day 2 started off at Château des Charmes.
Château des Charmes:http://www.fromtheboscfamily.com/chateau-des-charmes
Driving into Château des Charmes, I was instantly infatuated with the picturesque chateau alone.
A lovely winery founded by Peter Bosc and his wife in 1978, it’s evident a lot of love and care go into this winery from just the appearance alone.
After you taste the wine will you also understand why they say making wine is who they are.
“Making wine is not what we do, it’s who we are.” – Bosc Family
It’s no wonder they call this place Chateau des Charmes – Castle Charms. You feel royal in this castle-like dwelling and it’s positively charming.
The tour was fantastic guided by Paul T, who clearly knows a lot about wine! Especially Chateau des Charmes wine.
Wine-tasting was held on the 2nd level of the Chateau with the vineyards peeking through the windows.
Following the wine-tasting was a very special treat.
We were led to the side of the Chateau outdoors where a white bistro set was nestled underneath the trees with the scenic views of Chateau des Charmes’ vineyards.
We were served a delicious concoction of peaches and vanilla ice cream (Add a Little Ice: Peach Dessert) which is part of the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s “Between Friends Insider’s Program”.
It’s a new program that allows members to receive special offers, discounts, etc.
Here’s the link for more information: http://wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com/enter-to-win
Definitely take advantage of this! It’s a great program if you love Wine and Niagara-on-the-Lake as much as we do (and if you haven’t visited yet, I guarantee you you will surely fall in love!).
Following this wonderful visit and treat, we headed over to Trius Winery at Hillebrand for Brunch.
Trius Winery at Hillebrand:http://www.triuswines.com/
We were seated outside on the Trius Restaurant Patio overlooking the Vineyards.
It was perfect, the service was friendly and amazing from the beginning to end and the brunch was satisfying. The portioning was perfect and I just may have found my new dish love — their pan seared scallops with a yummy quinoa mix with shrimp, sweet melon, cucumber and veggies was to die for.
I mean it was drive 2 hours to and from just to have it good.
As part of their brunch menu they also provide complimentary sparkling wine.
I also recommend their Strawberry and Mascarpone Mille Feuille with Pistachios and Strawberry Sorbet for dessert. Scrumptious!
They had a fantastic selection in their menu and I highly recommend dining at Trius the next time you’re in town. You won’t be disappointed!
Considering it was just a brunch, we were nice and full afterwards which worked out perfectly as we had one more winery to visit before our drive back home.
Final Stop was at Pillitteri Estates Winery.
Pillitteri Estates Winery:http://www.pillitteri.com
Popular (and award winners) for their Icewine, I knew I was in for a treat. I love Icewine!
We were greeted and toured by Justin who was exceptional throughout.
He taught us a lot more about wine (and I thought I already learned all I needed to during all my winery visits the past 2 days!).
I was so intrigued with their wine cellar and the meaning behind the chairs that adorn the ceilings throughout it. Pillitteri is clearly a proud and successful family-based business.
Proof is in their abundance of awards you will see sprawled across 2 walls on the main floor.
We even met the man behind the amazing Icewine, Mr. Pillitteri himself during our private wine-tasting.
I was really blown away by their white wine (and this is coming from a red wine gal) and of course their Icewine. I took home a bottle of Gewurztraminer (yes, it took me forever to learn to say it) and 2 bottles of white here because I fell in love!
It’s a mouthful indeed but a mouthful of deliciousness!
Gewurztraminer is now my favourite word.
One of the coolest wine bottles (and also one I enjoyed and took home), was their Pic’d Wine.
Using photos submitted from Pic’d Fans on their Social Media networks (hence the name), they select the best ones and use them on their bottles. How awesome is that?! Too bad they don’t accept selfies. Darn! It’s okay. Having any of my photos on a wine label is good enough!
We had such a marvelous and unforgettable time away visiting the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake and will surely be back again very soon. Thank you Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake for your exceptional accommodations and fantastic itinerary!
If you’re looking for the perfect mini getaway or “stay-cation” with your loved one or even some friends, whether it be a day excursion or a weekend, head over to Niagara-on-the-Lake and experience the pride behind our amazing Ontario Wines.
Recognizing that visiting all 27 wineries during one trip is a tall order, the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake have created the NEW Winemakers’ Selections Tasting Pass. For just $27, the Winemakers’ Selections Tasting Pass is valid for a full year and allows visitors to enjoy one tasting of a Winemaker’s Selection wine at each of the 27 Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake any day of the year.
Sign me up!
In addition, the 27 Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake offer visitors the choice of authentic wine experiences that reflect their unique interests:
>• Foodies can discover why Niagara-on-the-Lake was rated as TripAdvisor’s top Canadian food and wine destination while learning something new at a wine country cooking class, trying tasty Food Truck treats, and getting wine pairing advice straight from the source at a Winemaker’s Dinner.
• Green living enthusiasts can visit LEED designated wineries, sample organic and biodynamic wines, and meet some adorable sheep that have earned a reputation as the cutest weed-eaters on the planet!
• Health conscious actives can enjoy a range of “Wine Country Workout” options from yoga and Zumba in the vineyard to winery cycling tours, hiking trails and more.
• Architecture buffs can visit a collection of wineries that includes the first LEED certified building in Canada, as well as a recipient of the 2009 International Architecture Award, and a beautiful interpretation of a modern barn that has incorporated the concept of terroir into the finishes of all the building materials.
• Music Lovers will enjoy a perfect playlist of live music at a diverse range of vineyard concerts and music festivals.
After experiencing the tastes, sounds and scenery of the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake, you’ll understand why this world-class destination is Canada’s leading wine and culinary destination.
Keep up to date and learn more by visiting Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake at wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com or on Facebook.