You may recognize Niagara for the falls, slot machines and honeymoon hotels, but Canada’s Niagara Peninsula also houses one of North America’s most dynamic and charming wine countries. From sparkling to icewine, Chardonnay to Cabernet Franc, here are six places to sip.
The Niagara-on-the-Lake appellation is cooler than is ideal for Bordeaux varieties. But LEED-certified Stratus Vineyards makes some of the best, especially Cabernet Franc. Visit the bright, modern tasting room for a flight, pairing or a side-by-side comparison with beers from nearby Niagara Oast House Brewers.
Centered around an open-flame grill and décor by emerging Canadian artists, Backhouse provides a rustic-yet-refined dining experience led by Chef Ryan Crawford’s farm-to-table ethos. Order the Tawse Estate Vineyards Chardonnay, a wine that illuminates its terroir, to pair with the “cool-climate cuisine.”
Owner and Sommelier James Treadwell offers local, seasonal fare along with an extensive list of Niagara wines. The selection is remarkable, with particular attention given to small producers and sustainable growing efforts. Try Flat Rock’s Riddled, a sparkler demonstrating the excitement that surrounds the Peninsula’s burgeoning category.
Hidden Bench Estate Winery
Hidden Bench has captured the terroir of its organic vineyards in the Beamsville Bench VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance, Canada’s regulated appellation system) since it was founded back in 2003. You can now experience the single-vineyard bottlings at its inviting barn-like tasting room. Just make sure not to leave without tasting the Locust Lane Pinot Noir.
Cave Springs Cellars
Cave Springs Cellars crafts several of Canada’s finest Rieslings in dry, late-harvest and icewine forms. The CSV Riesling proves particularly ageworthy. Based in the idyllic small town of Jordan, the winery stands across the street from the Inn on the Twenty, its sister boutique hotel known for its fantastic restaurant.
Peller Estates Winery & Restaurant
At the winery’s 10Below Icewine Lounge, throw on a parka and sip Canada’s signature sweet wine in a room that’s the same temperature at which the wine’s grapes are harvested. Head to its restaurant next door and see how Chef Jason Parsons incorporates icewine into lobster linguini, chicken liver parfait and more.