With so many amazing grapes, creative assemblages, and remarkable vintages, the Niagara wine Peninsula has carved an impressive niche for itself in the culture of North American wine criticism. With a myriad of cabernet franc, chardonnay, pinot noir, and even syrah options on hand — and with almost 100 wineries dotting the area — it’s no wonder that the Niagara Peninsula is Canada’s largest wine-production area. A fertile stretch that separates Lake Ontario from Lake Erie and that cuts roughly from the Canadian border at the Niagara River and Niagara Falls up to Hamilton, the Niagara peninsula humbly considers itself to be a relatively new wine region.
According to the New York Times, the first new winery license was issued since the end of Prohibition in 1974 and by 2012, nearly 17,000 acres of vineyards had been planted in Ontario — 86 percent of which were on the peninsula. It’s no wonder; the region finds itself at the same latitude as Northern Italy and thanks to two lakes That help to moderate the climate, the growing conditions are similar to those of Burgundy, France.
Not only does the microclimate offer up outstanding cabernet franc, riesling, chardonnay, gamay and pinot noir grapes, but the peninsula also features a number of welcoming tasting rooms. Visitors to the region will also find top-tier restaurants, country inns, and even hiking trails. Like Sonoma without the expense, many growers, especially the newest, also boast low environmental impact through recycling, architectural design and geothermal engineering.
In the small hamlet of Jordan, for example, there is a country inn and a restaurant belonging to Cave Spring Cellars who offer many assemblages — their specialty is Riesling — that vary from crisp and dry to austere and tart to more full-bodied and complex. The downtown area of this part of the peninsula is Niagara-on-the-Lake, a charming town with shops, restaurants and bed and breakfast inns surrounded by vineyards.
Increasingly, you can add sparkling wines to the profile of the region. As for the famous ice wines, the grapes left on vines late in Ontario do not develop fungal growth like botrytis, but instead simply freeze, resulting in the concentrated sweetness of the natural ice wine.
Wine tour packages will allow you to travel with the best certified Niagara wine guides to discover incredible underground wineries, visit magnificent wine shops, sample rare award-winning wines and immerse yourself in expansive vineyards in historic caves and romantic, sprawling family estates that are the cornerstones of the Canadian Wine Industry.
Once you leave the peninsula, you may be wondering how to get your hands on so many rare blends now that you’re back home in the GTA. One option is to explore the breadth and convenience of online wine retailers who not only offer some of the best assemblages and vintages, but also offer home delivery. Ontario favourite Wine Online for example, offers a wonderful selection of Niagara wines from the dry, tangy, and spicy Château des Charmes 2015 vintage to the rich, exotic 2014 Chardonnay from the afore-mentioned Cave Spring Cellars. With every bottle available through home delivery or by Penguin Pick Up, it’s easier than ever to maintain the peninsula experience at home.
Whether you’re visiting for the day or the weekend, the Niagara Peninsula offers a nearly endless array of wonderful grapes and assemblages, and thanks to dedicated online retailers, you can bring the taste of the Niagara vineyards home.