What to Expect at the Niagara Falls’ Survival Expo

image001Niagara Falls is a world-class destination for scores of reasons, and while the waterfalls and the wine arguably remain the biggest draws to the place, the area hosts fascinating events all year round that create plenty of other reasons why a visit to Niagara is almost always in order. One such event that’s coming up in the beginning of August is the Survival Expo, a showcase of vendors, speakers, organizations, and more that specialize in everything from disaster preparedness and homesteading to the off-grid lifestyle.

Whether you truly want to be prepared in case human civilization re-enters the Dark Ages, or you simply want to know how to live a more basic and elemental life, the Survival Expo is both entertaining and educational. Here is some of the information you’ll need to attend, as well as a few of the highlights of what you can expect to find at this year’s Expo.

About the Survival Expo

The Survival Expo was started by a group of people who share a desire to learn and practice a more basic and prepared way of living. As the largest Survival Expo in all of Canada, the Niagara Falls’ Expo is a way for people who are already engaged in survival-centered living to share their knowledge, expertise, products, skills, and more with other people who want to learn. This year’s Survival Expo will take place over the weekend of August 8 and 9 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre, and it will feature over 100 exhibitors, dozens of seminars, and thousands of attendees. The Expo is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $10 per day, or you can pay $18 for a two-day pass.

The Seminars

image003The seminars offered at this year’s Survival Expo cover a wide range of topics for anyone interested in being prepared for either a four-day backpacking trip in the Canadian wilderness or a doomsday scenario in which the vast amount of resources we all depend on day-to-day suddenly disappear or go on the fritz. Seminars cover a wide range of topics that deal with everything from home defense to foraging. Some of the seminars being offered include:

  • Survival Medicine. Learn everything about emergency first aid from wound care to suturing in this seminar.
  • Edible Wild Food. If the grocery stores no longer stocked food or you found yourself lost in the woods, this seminar will show you what you can forage for food.
  • Urban Beekeeping. If you want fresh, local honey in the city, this seminar will show you how to keep bees in an urban environment.
  • Self-Defense. If your physical self is ever threatened, this seminar will show you how to properly and smartly respond.
  • The Art of Urban Survival. Since most people live in urban areas, any disaster or true national emergency might necessitate surviving in an urban area. Learn how to do so with this seminar.

Head to Niagara Falls for the vacation of a lifetime, and learn survival skills at the same time by spending some time at the Survival Expo.

4 Routes That Prove Niagara Is Perfect for a Road Trip

image001Almost everyone with a driver’s license has experienced the thrill of freedom that can accompany sliding behind the wheel of a car, especially as a young person with few responsibilities and a delicious case of wanderlust. While few of us take to the open road with the reckless abandon we did in our more carefree, youthful days, there are still plenty of opportunities to emulate the perfect long form road trip by hitting the road in and around the Niagara Peninsula.

Blessed with picturesque farms, a beautiful countryside, thousands of acres of vineyards, and watery shores, Niagara is actually one of the best places in North America to go for a drive. If you’re planning a stay in Niagara, here are four routes to take for a drive.

1. The Niagara Parkway

Part of the Greater Niagara Circle Route, the Niagara Parkway is that lovely bit of road Winston Churchill once described as providing, “the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world.” Cruise alongside the rushing Niagara River all the way from charming Niagara-on-the-lake up to Fort Erie and see luscious gardens, green parks, historical sites, wineries and vineyards, shorelines, and the mighty and thundering Niagara Falls. Pack a blanket and a picnic lunch or stop to eat at roadside stands or local restaurants along the way.

2. The Welland Canals Parkway Interim Route

image003This drive will take you from Port Colborne to Thorold. Along the way, you’ll pass through Welland and see the Welland Canal, a marvel of Canadian engineering that lets large freighters go over the mountain, so to speak, via a series of canal locks at points that include Port Colborne, St. Catharines, and Thorold. Be sure to stop and spend some time at the Welland Canals Centre in St. Catharines, where you can learn more about the canal system thanks to a number of illuminating exhibits and a well-placed observation deck.

3. The Niagara Wine Route

While you should certainly spend plenty of time stopping to take wine tours, enjoy tastings, and, otherwise, soaking up the riches of Niagara’s wine country, spending an afternoon driving along the Niagara Wine Route will serve to get you even more in the mood. This network of roads runs east to west from Niagara-on-the-Lake all the way to the Niagara Escarpment, and it allows you to twist and turn your way through the very heart of wine country.

4. The Lake Erie South Shore Circle Route

For lovers of coastline, the Lake Erie South Shore Circle Route travels along the southern part of the Niagara Peninsula through area lakeside communities Wainfleet, Port Colborne, and Fort Erie. Parks, marinas, beaches, and the golden glint of the sun on the water — especially in late afternoon, this drive is idyllic.

Come to Niagara, and hit the road. From the Lake Erie shoreline to the wine country’s never ending charm, one of the best ways to see and experience Niagara is from behind the wheel. So, book a trip to Niagara, rent a car or bring your own, and drive your way through the region. You’ll achieve such a sense of wonder that you’ll lose all sense of time.

An Oenophile’s Guide to the Best Niagara Wineries

image001There are wine lovers, and then, there are wine lovers. For some of us, a glass of wine is the perfect accompaniment to an evening meal or a great way to relax with friends after a long day of work. For others, however, wine is much too serious a business to be relegated to a mere accompaniment to any aspect of life. Instead, wine is one of the highlights of living itself and should, at all times, be treated as such.

If you’re a oenophile for whom wine is an all-consuming passion, then a trip to Niagara’s wine country should be scheduled post-haste. Beautiful vineyards, enlightening tours, and some of the world’s most treasured wines await you. Here are three of the finest wineries in the Niagara Peninsula for the oenophile whose only desire is to experience the very best.

1. Inniskillin

Almost everyone agrees that it was Inniskillin that made the world stop and take notice of Canadian wines — in particular ice wines — but the winery does a number of other varietals remarkably well, too, and the visitor experience they provide is top-notch. The bulk of what you’ll experience at Inniskillin takes place in their Brae Burn Barn, a beautiful, rustic, completely remodeled 1920’s barn. They have a tour center, a wine boutique, a kitchen where they routinely host demonstrations, and a tasting bar. While you’re there, be sure to sample their ice wine, but don’t be shy about the rest of their offerings. Inniskillin really does make some excellent wine.

2. Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery

image003An organic 34-acre vineyard grows all the grapes utilized by this estate winery, and the results are always noteworthy. A family winery situated in the St. David’s Bench, Ravine enjoys being a part of a sub-appellation that’s the warmest in the Niagara Peninsula.

In addition to this small, but significant terroir advantage, Ravine’s soil is light and drains well, and because it’s positioned at the Bench’s highest elevation, its wines enjoy a quality unique — not just to St. David’s Bench — but to Ravine. They also have an amazing organic garden on-site from which they prepare their restaurant’s excellent food. Eat a meal at Ravine, and be sure to order something that pairs well with one of their tremendous wines, in particular, a cabernet franc or unfiltered chardonnay.

3. Stratus Winery

For a more contemporary winemaking and wine tasting experience, Stratus Winery is worth a trip. Practicing low-yield, pumpless viticulture, this sustainable and LEED-certified winery is a model of 21st century winemaking. The tasting room is elegant and modern, and the tour — available by appointment only — is revealing. Just getting a chance to ogle their 1,000-barrel, above-ground, “cellar” is worth the trip. Stratus specializes in assemblage wines, so be sure to order a flight after your tour. You can also schedule a private tasting that pairs Stratus wines with cheeses from local dairy, Fifth Town Dairy.

If you love wine in a way that prioritizes it above most other experiences and offerings in the world, you’ll love Niagara’s wine country. Be sure to hit these three exceptional vineyards to get a first taste of why Niagara Peninsula wine is heralded around the world.

3 Niagara Spots to Go For Ice Cream This Summer

image001Is there anything more delicious than sweet, cold, ice cream on a hot, summer day? While the temperatures in Niagara may stay more temperate and bearable than they do in other parts of North America, the height of summer is still an ideal time to fix your sights and taste buds on an ice cream parlor so you and everyone with you can settle in and relax with a delicious ice cream cone.

Get your ice cream fix this summer when you vacation in Niagara at one of these three excellent ice cream shops.

1. Cool Licks Ice Cream Parlour

Located in Welland, Cool Licks Ice Cream Parlour makes homemade ice cream and sauces for an ice cream experience that never disappoints. Both scooped ice cream and soft serve are available, and locals routinely rave about their sundaes. Unique flavors are common, such as Key Lime Pie, Grape, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Lemon Meringue. In addition, they specialize in ice cream cakes and offer gluten-free cones.

2. Avondale Dairy Bar

image003Many people would claim that a trip to Niagara is incomplete without a stop at Avondale Dairy Bar, and after you taste their ice cream, you might well agree. The Dairy Bar has been open and serving ice cream to locals and visitors for almost 60 years, and the place hasn’t changed that much in that time either. It maintains an old, 1950s feel that’s instantly nostalgic and charming. Open seven days a week from 10 a.m. until 11 p.m., if your ice cream hankering comes late, they can likely still assist you with satisfying it.

All their ice cream is made fresh each day on-site in small, hand-crafted batches. They boast numerous flavors, as well as a daily sundae bar menu, 10 different types of banana splits, as many as 30 different milk shake flavors, and real ice cream sodas. Try their Graham Cracker Crunch and Cake Batter ice creams, and if the weather is fair, be sure to sit outside and enjoy the bucolic scenery — the Avondale Dairy Bar backs up to a working dairy farm.

3. Italian Ice Cream

A family business that has been in operation since 1978, Italian Ice Cream has a lot more to offer than just ice cream, including sandwiches, fat-free fruit ices, espresso, cakes, and so much more, but it’s their authentic gelato that makes visiting their store so special and a must. They offer 24 flavors of gelato at any given time, but over the years, they have made around 100 different flavors, and everything they make is of superior quality. They have water-based gelato — should anyone in your party be lactose intolerant — as well as milk-based gelato. They also make a host of gelato-centered desserts such as gelato cakes, ice cream crepes, tartufo, and cassata, a Neapolitan ice cream that contains fruit and nuts. For an authentic Italian dessert in the heart of Niagara, Italian Ice Cream is better than superb.

How to Celebrate Canada Day Like a Canadian

image001Also known as “Dominion Day,” Canada Day is one of the most important holidays on the Canadian national calendar, and if you’re planning a trip to Niagara Falls on or around July 1st, you’ll want to know what the hubbub is about, so you can properly appreciate it and participate. From fireworks to food, here is a closer look at how Canadians celebrate their independence.

First: Some History

It was on July 1, 1867 that the Constitution Act, 1867—then known as the British North America Act—freed Canada from British rule and established the country’s independence. The very next year, the Governor General requested that all Canadians join together to celebrate that independence on July 1st, but it wasn’t until 1879 that a federal law was enacted to make the day a legally recognized holiday. For years, Canada Day languished as a national holiday due to the fact that most Canadians still saw themselves as British. As a result, any July 1st celebrating took place mostly in and around Parliament Hill. Over the years, however, national pride began to grow, and Canadians all over the country started to participate. Today, Canada Day is a holiday almost everyone joins in celebrating.

Outdoor Family Fun

Because Canada Day is celebrated during the warmest time of year, many Canadians take the opportunity to head outside to enjoy family and friends. Cookouts in the backyard are incredibly common, but many Canadians also like to head to the park, beach, or pool to relax for the day. The Canadian Air Force puts on air shows as a part of the day’s celebration, and if you ever find yourself near one, you should definitely attend. If you get invited to a Canada Day event at someone’s house, bring something to throw on the grill, and expect to eat some distinctly Canadian food like beaver tails or poutine.


Parades are a highlight of many towns’ and cities’ Canada Day celebrations, including Niagara Falls. Many Canada Day parades express national pride in unique ways that can include everything from marching bands and Mounties to Canada-themed floats. If there are bands, expect “O Canada” to be played at least once, and if you don’t already know them, try to learn the lyrics ahead of time, so you won’t stick out among the locals crowded around you. Keep in mind that, should you ever find yourself in a French-speaking part of the country, you’ll need to know it in French.


image003As with many national celebrations held around the world, the climactic event that caps off a day of revelry is a patriotic fireworks display. Almost every decent-sized town will have some sort of fireworks show, and some Canadians will shoot off their own throughout the day and evening, but the larger cities—and Niagara Falls, of course—boast the best displays. Wherever you are, grab a blanket, and stake out a good viewing spot ahead of time.

Canada Day is a unique way to experience Canadian culture, whether you’re a Canuck through and through or you’re just visiting. However you join in celebrating, be sure to dress in red and white—the colors of the Canadian flag.

Get Behind the Scenes at Peller Estates Kitchen Table Dinner

image003The Niagara Peninsula’s penchant for creating excellent wines and the growing popularity of those wines throughout the world has encouraged many of the area’s wineries to invest in excellent restaurants on-site that can serve both as a complement to their wines and as a way for guests to experience even more thoroughly the fecundity and richness of the region’s bounty, and Peller Estates’ award-winning restaurant, the Peller Estates Winery Restaurant, is one of the finest on-site dining experiences in all of Canada thanks to the remarkable work of Chef Jason Parsons and his inestimable team.

This summer the winery and restaurant are hosting a unique event that will get fans up close and personal with the kitchen and the wine pairing expertise that make dining at Peller Estates so exeptional. If you’re looking for a unique winery experience that will leave your palette as satisfied as your eyes, nose, and mind, plan a trip to Niagara that coincides with the Peller Estates Kitchen Table Dinner.

About Peller Estates Wine

Peller Estates Winery is one of the oldest wineries in the Niagara region. A family winery with roots that reach all the way back to 1927, Peller Estates Winery started with Andrew Peller, a Canadian immigrant from Hungary who longed to bring the love of premium wine he had grown accustomed to in Europe to his new home in Canada. After much winemaking effort without much reward in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, Andrew and his son, Joe, were finally able to buy a winemaking license and winery in Ontario in 1969. Today, Peller Estates Winery is run by Andrew’s grandson, John. From icewine and Riesling to excellent Chardonnays, Peller Estates has won international acclaim, including being named Best Canadian Winery of the Year at the London International Wine and Spirit Competition.

Chef Jason Parsons

While it’s true that the wine gets top billing at Peller Estates Winery, the restaurant is just as highly regarded due to the expertise of Jason Parsons. A regular guest on the popular television show, Cityline, Chef Jason Parsons has over 20 years of culinary experience at some of the finest restaurants in the world. Since coming to Peller Estates Winery Restaurant he has worked closely with Winemaker Katie Dickieson to create an ever-changing menu that draws its inspiration from Peller Estates wines for a dining experience that always pairs magically with the winery’s many excellent wines. The restaurant has won numerous accolades under Chef parsons’ guidance, including 3 starts in Toronto Life, the CAA 4-diamond rating, Le Clefs d’Or Golden Plate Award, and Zagat‘s highest rating of “Extraordinary.”

The Pellar Estates Kitchen Table Dinnerimage001

So what is the Pellar Estates Kitchen Table Dinner? Geared toward the “culinary voyeur,” this backstage pass gives the oenophile and foodie a front row, VIP seat to watch Chef Parson and his culinary team in action. Kitchen Table Dinner participants will begin their evening in the restaurant’s kitchen with canapés and a glass of Peller Estates’ award-winning sparkling wine, while a knowledgeable host from the culinary team unravels the mysteries of pairing excellent food with excellent wine. From there, the evening moves to a seven course, sit-down dinner made up of seasonal, locally sourced food that has been exquisitely paired with Peller Estates wines. The series will embark on June 6th and run through August 1st for a wine and food experience as intimate as any being offered in Niagara.

Tailgate Like a Canadian at the 2015 TD Tailgate Party

image001Canadians, like most people, love any excuse to throw a party, and in the Niagara region, that reason more often than not centers around wine. Because the Niagara region is home to so many vineyards and wineries—almost 14,000 acres are planted in grapes—it probably comes as no surprise that one of the biggest parties of the season takes place in celebration of the new season’s vintages. For anyone looking to visit the Niagara region, celebrate solstice, and experience the pleasure of a new batch of wine paired with excellent food, the TD Tailgate Party should not be missed.

Held each year at a Niagara wine country vineyard, the 2015 TD Tailgate Party will bring together over 40 wineries, 10 local chefs making local food, live music, and oenophiles from all over for a festive gathering that, for many in the region, marks the highlight of the year. Held on June 20th from 6pm to 10pm at a Niagara-on-the-Lake vineyard, the Tailgate Party ticket gets you an all-inclusive pass to the event, the wine, the music, the food, and the shuttle service to and from the vineyard on (the day before) the longest day of the year. Here is just a sampling of what you’ll find in food and wine that night.

The Wine

It’s nearly impossible to name the 40+ wineries involved with this year’s Tailgate Party, let alone the vintages and wines they’ll be making available to guests. That being said, you can look forward to enjoying the best the region offers, including wine from the following wineries:

  • Flat Rock Cellars. This winery specializes in low yield, progressive viticulture that utilizes handpicked and hand-sorted grapes, as well as gravity-flow winemaking.
  • Stoney Ridge Estate Winery. This Niagara Escarpment winery boasts exceptional icewines and award-winning Chardonnays.
  • Rockway Vineyards. This family winery and vineyard makes premium craft wines in the Twenty Mile Bench and is the only Ontario winery that also boasts a championship golf course.
  • Vineland Estates Winery. For three decades, this award-winning winery has been producing some of the region’s finest Riesling and Cabernet Franc wines.

The Food

Not to be outdone by the exceptional wine being offered, the 10 chefs participating in the TD Tailgate Party are cooking up a feast for the eyes, nose, mouth, and stomach. Niagara is home to some of the finest cuisine in all of Canada, and much of it will be on display at the Tailgate Party. Here are some of the chefs whose food you can look forward to:

  • Nathan Young, In the Smoke Cookery and Catering. Chef Nathan Young’s passion for barbecue and smoked meats will be on full display at the Tailgate Party, where he will showcase local markets, growers, farmers, and meat, as well as a more rustic approach to food preparation.
  • Beth McIntee, Sweetie Pie’s Kitchens. Chef McIntee grew up in the Niagara region and has been at the helm of her Sweetie Pie’s Bakery since she opened it in 2010. She uses local fruit to create unique baked goods and preserves.
  • Justin Downes, The Restaurant at Vineland Estates Winery. Through the use of local purveyors and farmers, Chef Downes creates adventurous dishes that showcase the best in Niagara cuisine.

Come to Niagara for the party of the year, and experience the best in wine, food, and entertainment at the 2015 TD Tailgate Party.

“Dine Her”: A Niagara Falls Theater Experience Unlike Any Other

Niagara Falls is known for many things around North America and the world, including the massive and awe-inspiring waterfalls that have bewitched millions over the years, the award-winning and widely respected wineries that serve up everything from ice wine and Riesling to Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, that massive indoor water park, a bevy of high-quality museums, and now: zombie comedy diner theatre?

image001No, that’s not a typo. Not to be confused with dinner theater, the diner theatre dreamt up by fringe theater aficianados RealSpace Theatre pushes the boundaries of a more traditional theatre experience through environmental integration that breaks down the separation that normally exists between audience, performers, and performance in a way that brings story, actors, and audience into an intimacy rarely experienced. It’s part and parcel of what the people behind RealSpace have been doing for over five years, and Niagara Falls is just now getting its first taste.

RealSpace Theatre’s first theatre and environment integration experiment took place at the 2010 Toronto Fringe Festival with a play called The Getaway that involved an honest-to-goodness real-life speeding van as the location of the play. Since that memorable debut, RealSpace Theatre has presented a handful of customized and unique theatre experiences that make use of non-traditional venues, and their current show Dine Her, has to take place in a local diner—not a theatre venue dressed and lit to look and feel like a diner, but an honest-to-goodness, real-life diner.

Dine Her is a zombie comedy that’s already played to well-fed, sold-out audiences at diners in both Toronto and Kitchener/Waterloo. At the end of May 2015, it started up its next run on Niagara Falls’ own Bridge Street at Dad’s Diner, a beloved Niagara Falls institution that has long been serving up breakfast and lunch without high prices or fanfare. Since RealSpace Theatre chose Dad’s Diner as the location for its run of Niagara Fall’s experience of Dine Her, however, that lack of fanfare has shifted considerably.

For four weeks, from May 27th through June 27th, Dad’s Diner is being transformed into a one-of-a-kind theatre venue that will astonish, terrify, and feed its nightly audience while they seek to discover whether or not true love can actually conquer all. The audience will sit in the midst of the story, not just observing the terror and humor, but, at times, being literally surrounded by it. It’s an immersive theatre experience that’s as cutting edge as it is entertaining, and it includes a zombie-themed meal to boot.

For theatre that’s definitely not like anything you’ve ever encountered before, head to Niagara Falls anytime between now and June 27, and take in the zombie comedy, Dine Her, at Dad’s Diner. The show runs every day until closing night, including Sundays, and seating is at 7pm. Tickets are just $60, and they include dinner and the show. Due to the subject matter, the show is only suitable for adults. You can purchase tickets here.

Best Niagara Falls Apps For Both Sides of the Border

image001More and more of us turn to our smartphones and tablets before we conduct any sort of business or pleasure in the real world. Whether we’re checking the weather, chatting with loved ones far away, or staying abreast of current events, if there’s a specific need for information or communication, chances are relatively good that someone has developed an app for it.

The world in and around Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York is no different. As a major tourist destination, the area has spawned its share of apps over the years. While not all of them merit mention, there are a handful that just might make your time in the Honeymoon Capital of the World even better. Enhance your vacation to Niagara Falls with these great Niagara Falls apps.

Niagara Falls by MobileFringe

This free app will assist you in planning your vacation long before you set foot in Niagara Falls. Area attractions, restaurants, accommodations, landmarks, and shopping outlets are just a finger swipe away, and the listings are detailed enough — hours of operation, photos, and more are included — to help you make itinerary decisions.

Use the built-in restroom- and ATM-search tool when you’re in the area, and the interactive map of Niagara Falls itself will help ensure you never find yourself turned around. You can even connect with your Facebook and Twitter profiles via this app, so everyone in your network will know exactly what you’re up to — if you want to tell them, of course. The only downside to this app is that it only works on Apple products running iOS 5.0 and later.

Niagara Parks Golf Courses

If anyone in your party likes to hit the links, this app will streamline all golfing efforts. Its most fundamental capabilities are to act simply as a scorecard and GPS, but it also has detailed and comprehensive information about golf courses in the Niagara area. You can book tee times, look up tournament leaderboards, and also, use the app to take virtual tours of all the golf courses, which will help you decide which ones you want to play.

Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino

image003This app functions like your own personal concierge when you’re at the Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino. Find your way from the blackjack tables to the slot machines without any trouble with the app’s casino maps and directories.

Browse restaurant menus before you decide where you want to eat. Look through the types of shops available just in case your favorite souvenir is nestled close by. Stay on top of the shows and performances happening at the resort as well. This free app is especially ideal for first-timers to Seneca, because it can help guide you through the place in a time-efficient manner.

Fashion Outlets Niagara Falls

The Fashion Outlet Mall in Niagara Falls, NY is one of the largest shopping centers in the region. Food, clothing, shoes, accessories, and more make this mall a shopaholic’s delight. With the app, you’ll be able to search the directory from your smartphone to find exactly the types of stores you want, and you can also tag your parking spot to save yourself time roaming the lot when you’re loaded down with bags. Sales are updated in real time, too, so you can also save money with your finger on this app.

From golf to gambling, find what you need and do what you want in Niagara Falls with straightforward ease with these handy, helpful apps.

Celebrate National Chardonnay Day in Niagara

image001National Chardonnay Day is an annual send-up of the world’s most popular and most planted grape varietal. Marked every May on the 21st, National Chardonnay Day is the perfect excuse to book a vacation to Niagara, where you can find award-winning chardonnays from many of our area wineries.

While it originated in Burgundy, France, chardonnay is now grown and produced all over the world. A neutral-tasting grape, chardonnay is heavily influenced by the properties of the oak in which it is commonly barreled and the terroir in which it is grown.

Niagara Peninsula chardonnays have a flavor unique to the region that has made for some truly outstanding wines over the years. Here is a list of some of the best chardonnays in the area that you should imbibe during your National Chardonnay Day celebration.

The Empress by Reif Estate Winery, 2012

An unoaked chardonnay marked by bright citrus, this wine will give you a good sense of what a chardonnay grape grown in Niagara tastes like when it hasn’t spent any time trussed up by oak.

Unoaked chardonnays have been steadily growing in popularity, and while this wine won’t have any of the elements associated with stereotypical, big, oaky chardonnays, there’s something revealing about the microclimate and soil of Niagara in this wine.

Be sure to stop by Reif Estate between May 21 and May 24 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for a complimentary tasting of their sparkling chardonnay — their way of toasting National Chardonnay Day.

Cuvee Catharine by Henry of Pelham, 2009

This sparkling, dry chardonnay is Blanc de Blanc, a bottling distinction reserved for only the finest juices. Hand-picked and entirely estate grown on the Short Hills Bench, it is whole cluster pressed and made according to the traditions of Champagne, which yields a remarkably complex and delicate sparkling wine.

Named after Henry’s wife, Catharine, this chardonnay is one of the least common experiences you can have with the grape. It boasts notes of citrus, sweet spices, baked bread and just a bit of acidity.

The Rusty Shed Chardonnay by Flat Rock Cellars, 2012

image003This Flat Rock Cellars’ chardonnay won a gold medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2014. Oaked and tank fermented, this complex wine comes from old vineyards along the Twenty Mile Bench, and the result is a big, creamy wine with notes of tropical fruit, hearty nuts, and toast, and it’s acidity is wonderfully balanced.

Enjoy it at the winery, and buy a case to take home. The winemaker’s notes indicate the wine will be improved with cellaring, which is remarkable considering how good it already is.

Village Chardonnay Reserve by Le Clos Jordanne, 2006

A winery that exclusively grows cool weather, ultra-premium pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, Le Clos Jordanne is a joint effort undertaken by the visionary leaders at Inniskillin and Jaffelin. Specialty rootstock was imported from France and planted in vineyards chosen for their terroir. The result is exceptional wine that includes this 2006 chardonnay. Notes of tart apple, earthy nuts, and fragrant peach mark this wine. Its finish is exquisite.

Celebrate the world’s favorite grape May 21 in Niagara at any number of the area’s fantastic wineries. Whether you choose the wines listed above or seek out your own, Niagara chardonnay is definitely worth toasting.

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