For most vacationers, one of the best parts about traveling to a new spot is experiencing that place’s food and drink. Kentucky has bourbon. The American South has sweet tea. Maine has lobsters, and Prince Edward Island has oysters and mussels.
In Niagara, the largest pull for the out-of-towner has always been the stunning and eponymous cataracts, but increasingly, the local wine scene is becoming its own reason to visit. And why shouldn’t it be?
The Niagara Peninsula is one of the most celebrated viticultures in the entire world thanks to the many award-winning wines and wineries in the region. With more ice wine in production here than anywhere else on the planet, the area is practically synonymous with the stuff, but grapes of almost every variety are grown here, harvested, and made into stellar wine. If you’re a oenophile looking for a North American vacation that isn’t along the American west coast, here are a handful of reasons to book a stay in Niagara — the perfect place to drink local wine.
It’s Beautiful Here
While it’s common to gaze upon the vines that grew the grapes you’re drinking at almost any winery, the landscape in Niagara is breathtaking. European-style vineyards and family farms make up the bulk of the countryside creating a view that is lovingly and lusciously maintained. When you drink glass of wine at a Niagara winery, the nostalgic beauty of the place is an inherent part of why the experience is so exceptional.
The Tours Are Great
Because the winemakers in Niagara know that selling wine is as much an art form as making it, many of them offer great tours that give an insider’s view of their specific winemaking processes and philosophies. Whether you know a lot about how wine is made or not, the following tours are well worth your time:
- Flat Rock Cellars. Located on the Niagara Escarpment, this tour features stunning views of Lake Ontario, a beautiful, glass-enclosed tasting room, and walks through the vineyards and barrel room.
- Stratus Winery. This modern winery is fully LEED-certified and practices low-yield viticulture — a unique and sustainable approach to farming and winemaking.
- Inniskillin Winery. The winery that first showed the world what Ontario wines, and especially ice wines were made of, a tour of Inniskillin is a must for anyone in the area, especially since much of the tour takes place in a barn from the 1920s.
The Wine Is Exceptional
Perhaps the best reason to visit Niagara to experience the wine. Ice wine is the most lauded, but plenty of wineries make an excellent Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Cabernet sauvignon, Pinot noir, and more.
Since you can’t try everything — the region has over 13,600 acres planted in grapes that will be made into wine — choose a handful of wineries known to produce a good product, including some of the smaller, lesser-known makers with solid reputations, and chauffeur your palate around. Some of the best local wine can be had at:
- Pillitteri Estates Winery
- Hillebrand Estates
- Five Rows Craft Winery
- Pondview Estate
From the way it looks to the way it tastes, Niagara is the perfect place to drink some of the best local wine on the planet.