Earlier this month, my boyfriend and I ventured up to the North to attend the Niagara Ice Wine Festival. During our Sunday excursion we stopped at eight different wineries (five new ones) and I continue to fall more in love with the region (and the best part, it's less than an hour drive!).
Here are some of my highlights from the day:
My absolute favorite stop when we get up there is Vineland Estates Winery, located at
Two other wineries we went back to for the second time were Tawse Winery and Flat Rock Cellars. Tawse has fantastic wines and I was excited to try the latest Riesling. The tasting specialists (for lack of a better term) and Tawse were friendly and fun, and we enjoyed the chit chat with them. They are surrounded by pretty scenery and I love the large glass room divider that shows off where the wine is made, behind the tasting room.
Flat Rock is one of the most fun places to hang out and enjoy the scenery. Their tasting room has huge windows that overlook their vineyard and on a clear day (which it was when we were there) you can see Toronto in the distance. They sell huge homemade marshmallows and have a big fire pit outside to roast them. We had to get them, and they were delicious. They have a good selection of wines and I'd suggest trying their "Twisted" wines mixing together a few different wines to make up this line.
As for the new places we tried we ventured out to Angel's Gate Winery, Organized Crime Winery, Crown Bench Estates Winery, Creekside Estate Winery and Stone Church Vineyards. I wasn't much of a fan of the last three. Crown Bench Estates is pegged the "most innovative" winery branching out and making flavored ice wines including hot ice (combining five different hot peppers), vanilla ice, and ambrosia chocolate ice, among others. We tried a few but weren't impressed with any. On the plus side, Crown Bench Estates sells these awesome ice wine glasses that I had to have, $7 each. Stone Church was our last stop of the day and I wasn't a huge fan of any wine, but they have pretty awesome spreads and dips for sale - try the caramelized onion and maple. As for Creekside, I just wasn't a fan of anything there.
Angel's Gate and Organized Crime were fun additions to our tour! While the tasting experience at Organized Crime wasn't my favorite; the tasting room is tiny and I mean TINY, and the owner's dog was in the room next door scratching on the door, they had my pick for favorite wine I tried of the day - their Reisling. Angel's Gate was our first stop of the day, and the winery is super cute. They had a pretty great patio and would be perfect for a summer night, overlooking gorgeous scenery.
The Niagara Ice Wine Festival offers a pass that includes food pairings at some of the wineries along with your tastings for $30. While it's a good deal, we've never purchased it. We typically purchase a bottle or two at most wineries we go to, and if you do that, in most cases, the winery will waive the tasting fees. During this trip we didn't end up paying for one tasting, but we did come home with 8 bottles of wine and a gorgeous set of ice wine glasses!
This weekend is the last weekend of the Ice Wine Festival, but if you can't make it up there soon, plan a day trip with your significant other or close friends, and explore all the great wineries just over the border! Red wine drinkers, don't worry, there's plenty of awesome red wines available for tasting too!