Friday, February 10, 2006

Wine touring - the where question

A week or so ago, I penned my thoughts on the advantages and pleasure of going wine tasting.

Now let's look at the where to go.

I'm not going to discuss specific wineries today - but I will touch on the regions and areas that will be of interest.

First I should mention that most wineries have available a reasonably good map of Ontario's basic wine regions - these being:

- The Niagara Peninsula
- Lake Erie North Shore
- Prince Edward County

There are a spattering of wineries in other spots - including a couple in the GTA - but the above are the main areas for touring. Of these, Niagara is by far the largest, most diverse and the most interesting in terms of wine. However, you can't cover the whole of Niagara in a day - it's best to pick one 'section'.

I divide the Niagara into four basic sections for touring. These are - from closest to Toronto to furthest:

The Beamsville area
Vineland and environs
In between country - Jordan and between St. Catherines and the Escarpment

I'd suggest starting with either Beamsville - or at NOTL. If you are interested in some of the larger wineries whose wines you've had through the LCBO, and would like to get a formal tour - head to NOTL. If I had to suggest a plan, you might consider:

- Hillebrand (for an well organized tasting and tour)
- Lailey's (for higher-end wines)
- Caroline Cellars (for a small, family winery with great value wines and not an ounce of pretense)
- + one or two wineries that strike your fancy.

If you are more curious about the smaller ("boutique") wineries whose wines rarely make it to the LCBO, start around Beamsville. A suggested sample itenerary here would include:

- Angel's Gate
- Eastdell
- De Sousa
+ Daniel Lenko if you get the chance

In general, don't try to cram in too many wineries. It's tempting - but remember that you're supposed to be relaxing and savouring.


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