For Justin’s birthday, we wanted to do something special! Justin had never been to Niagara-on-the-Lake for a wine tour before, so we decided to make a little overnight vacation of it by staying overnight, sampling lots of wine, and going to a fine dining restaurant. Niagara is well known for its many wineries due to the unique climate of the Niagara region, surrounded by the Niagara escarpment and the Great Lakes. Let me tell you, if you’re a wine lover, there are so many fantastic wines to discover in this region of all varieties!
We woke up fairly early and drove down to Niagara-on-the-Lake, a little over an hour away from our place. We stayed at the Shaw Club Hotel, an upscale hotel in the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was located right in the center of town, so it was easy to walk everywhere from the hotel! The wine tour was arranged through the hotel, and the company that provided us with the tour was Niagara Vintage Wine Tours. You can book a tour separately through this company if you aren’t staying at this particular hotel. We were picked up from the hotel at 11:30am since we booked an afternoon wine tour. The amazing thing? We actually were able to check in to our hotel room this early! Normally, check-in time isn’t until around 3:00pm, but since they knew we would be coming early and the hotel wasn’t fully booked up, we were able to put our luggage in our room extra early.
In Niagara, people can visit the various wineries without being on a tour, but we definitely didn’t want to drink and drive. Booking a wine tour was the perfect decision for us because not only did Niagara Vintage Wine Tours pick us up and drop you off at our hotel, but they transported us from winery to winery. We were able to sit back and take in all of the scenery, sample all of the fine wines, and not have to plan anything at all! We were taken to three different wineries on our tour. The first one we visited was Pondview Winery. We tried various white, red, and ice wines at each winery. At this one, our favourite was the Cabernet Franc Rosé, so we purchased a bottle.
As it was Justin’s birthday, they treated him to an ice wine shot in a dark chocolate cup! Of course, I had to try one as well. Mmmmm. So decadent! The ice wine was so sweet and paired wonderfully with the rich dark chocolate. And, it was really fun to eat the “glass”!
Our tour group was nice and small – just the two of us plus two other couples from Kentucky and Ohio. They were really sweet people and throughout the afternoon, we took pictures for each other, so that’s why there are so many photos of Justin and I together! After trying the wines, our tour guide took us outdoors to the actual grape vines. We visited at a time of the year where they were harvesting the grapes, so it was really cool to see the giant machines that they press the grapes through to get rid of all the large twigs and debris.
The next winery that was visited was Pillitteri Winery. This was a bit of a larger operation than the previous one, but still a family business. They have won many, many awards and they are on display in the main entrance. We were taken for a tour around the winery, including down to the barrel room. There was a huge cement table in this room where the Pillitteri family can get together, as well as tons of barrels where the wine is stored. From there, we went back upstairs to a tasting room and tried several wines. We decided to buy a fancy sweet red ice wine (Cabernet Sauvignon). We’re still saving this one for the next special occasion, maybe when we have some friends or family over.
The last winery that we visited was called Between the Lines. This was a newer winery and a smaller operation than the last one, so the tasting was a little less formal than the others with a smaller tasting room. The wine was equally as wonderful as the others! Our tour guide with Niagara Vintage Wine Tours poured the wine for us and told us all about it. We really enjoyed many of the wines here, especially the ice wines. We bought a Blush wine and a White Ice Wine. Might I add, our tour guide was super knowledgeable and also answered any questions about wine that we had! I would highly recommend touring around with Niagara Vintage Wine Tours.
Our trip to the wineries was really enjoyable, and we were both definitely tipsy by the end of it! The tour company took us back to our hotel, where we decided it would be a good idea to get some lunch. Stay tuned for the rest of our trip report from Niagara-on-the-Lake!