Over the past thirty years, Ontario’s wine and grape industry has expanded greatly and currently produced over 65% of all Canadian wine. The Niagara Peninsula – one of Ontario’s four officially recognized Vintners Quality Alliance areas – has developed into a major food & wine destination. This is due to both the high-quality wine and the vast number of European-style winery facilities offering full tours, tasty samples, and stunning ground. The jewel of the region is Niagara-on-the-Lake, where a historic and quaint downtown combines a charming getaway with access to over 20 wineries and their unique experiences.
In addition to a wide range of traditional wine, Canada’s cooler climate has given rise to its regional specialty – Ice Wine. This dessert-style wine is produced by harvesting frozen grapes to be cold-pressed, resulting in a concentrated, sweet wine. Due to the difficulty in timing and relatively small yield, Ice Wine can be rare and often expensive, but is worth drinking while in its home region of Niagara!
Many of the wineries are also home to award-winning restaurants. Some may require a taxi to/from so that you can enjoy pairing wine with the meal, but dinner allows the winery to provide a full, unforgettable culinary experience.
The hardest part about visiting Niagara is choosing your stopovers. Luckily, every winery is a wonderful experience and unique from that of its neighbor – there is no wrong destination! Often times the “best” to visit simply means those that are easy to string together. It is also important to keep an eye on the local, ever changing calendar of events. There may be an adventure or experience that will make a vineyard particularly special to you.
Below is a helpful list of our favorites wineries to visit during a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake:
On the bike trails
Along with the growth of vineyards, the Niagara region has the perfect flat, quiet roads and multi-use paths that have led to a rise in local bicycling. Combining the recreational activity with sampling vineyards has become popular enough that several unofficial routes have developed around Niagara-on-the-Lake. The following are easily combined in one 15-mile loop from town.
Reif Estates Winery
is located just on the Niagara Parkway overlooking the river and is well known in the region for its fine wine. Combine your tasting with a stroll through their Sensory Garden or pair it with a thoughtfully prepared charcuterie or cheese board. Try their crisp white wine!
One of the producer’s two vineyards and is a long-established staple of Niagara vineyards. As one of the first producers of Ice Wine in the region, Inniskillin has perfected the process, resulting in a lovely tasting experience! Don’t miss the Vidal Ice Wine.
This estate combines its award-winning wines with a more intimate tasting experience. Slightly off the beaten path but certainly not forgotten, Marynissen’s lovely gardens, cozy tasting rooms, and delicious wine will make you want to stay longer.
Just off of the quiet Line 2 Road, making for a great mid-ride stop. While the wine itself is worth visiting for, carve out time for lunch at the Farmhouse Café, a great location to refuel during a bike ride. And, they include a wine tasting while you wait for your meal.
Peller Estates Winery & Restaurant
If you are looking for a complete Niagara-on-the-Lake experience, this is the one. Its majestic grounds will awe its visitors as they roll up to the expansive estate, complete with tasting rooms, two restaurants, and tour-friendly facilities. Despite its size and impressive façade, Peller remains cozy and personal for its visitors. This is a top choice for a dinner in addition to a tasting!
This winery is known as much for their casual summer concert series as it is for wine tours! Their amphitheater hosts events most evenings, so be sure to check their website to see what you might stumble upon when visiting!
On the Lake
Konzelmann Estate Winer
Located a little out of town, this is a magnificent lake-front vineyard with views as good as the wine. Take the time to enjoy the friendly, informative and educational experience provided during a tasting or tour!
Nomad at Hinterbrook
Though technically across the street from the lake, Nomad at Hinterbrook is next to Konzelmann and makes for a great two-for-one visit. Slow down during your visit and partake in creating your own wine label to tell a story and take a bottle to go!
On our biking trip you'll stay near the waterfront and esteemed eateries of Niagara-on-the-Lake
There truly isn’t a wrong way to experience Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries. They are numerous and delicious, and each enjoys sharing their love for drinking, producing, and experiencing wine. The most important part is to slow down, ask questions, and experience each stop fully instead of racing around to see them all. Sometimes one or two in a day is more than enough, especially when biking or sightseeing! And, ask locals or people that you meet along the way what their favorites are – it might be a smaller option previously overlooked.