Looking to plan the ultimate tour of the Niagara on the Lake wineries in Ontario?
Our comprehensive guide includes details on the wine regions unique history and terroir. We also offer suggestions on the best restaurants, hotels and tours.
Our Niagara on the Lake wineries itinerary includes descriptions for over 30 local vineyards near Niagara Falls. Be sure to research your trip in advance to book tours and tastings.
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History of Niagara on the Lake Wineries
If you’re looking to learn about the history of the Niagara on the Lake wineries there’s no better person to sit down with for a chat than Chateau des Charmes’ Paul Bosc Sr.
Chateau des Charmes is recognized for being Canada’s first commercial vinifera vineyard, with first plantings taking place in 1978.
Paul Bosc Sr. recalls that Brights had Chardonnay planted and some growers in Grimsby had Gamay Noir. What set Chateau des Charmes apart is that they were the first vineyard to plant exclusively (50 acres) of vinifera with no hybrids. Mr. Bosc believes that it was around 1968 that people in Niagara started to experiment with vinifera.
Bosc explained, “Niagara on the Lake has always been a farming community, growing hybrid grapes and tender fruit. The transition from hybrids to vinifera signified the beginning of Niagara becoming a world class wine growing region and agri-tourism followed.”
So how did the pioneering Chateau des Charmes winery in Niagara on the Lake experiment with these new European grape varietals?
The Four Mile Creek Road vineyard was originally filled with peach trees and Seyval Blanc, a hybrid grape. When the Bosc’s took over the vineyard, they had to do a lot of drainage, levelling and amelioration of the soil before they could plant the vineyard in 1978.
The first grapes planted were Chardonnay, Aligoté, Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir and Riesling. Then, once they saw that these varietals were growing well, they planted Auxerrois. At this point the winemaker wasn’t convinced that Bordeaux varietals would work so he waited another five years before experimenting with Cabernet Sauvignon.
Today, Niagara on the Lake plays home to many of Canada’s most celebrated wineries. The region produces world-class wines thanks to winemakers who have settled here from France, Germany, Italy and beyond!
Visiting Niagara on the Lake Wineries
The Niagara on the Lake wineries are the closest vineyards to Niagara Falls.
Located on the Niagara Escarpment, the Niagara on the Lake wineries sit perched on the southern shores of Lake Ontario. The scenic wineries spread out between the Niagara River and St. Catherines.
If you’re in Toronto and looking for nearby vineyards to visit, Niagara on the Lake offers Ontario’s best wineries. While many wine lovers visit the region on a day trip, we suggest spending a few days to explore all that Niagara has to offer.
Accommodation options in Niagara on the Lake include luxury boutique hotels with spas and handful of chic bed and breakfasts.
Looking to enjoy a weekend getaway to sip through Niagara on the Lake’s best wineries? We suggest spending 2-3 nights in Niagara on the Lake wine country. A weekend will give you enough time to enjoy the village’s historic main street, gourmet restaurants, and award-winning wineries.
Check out our recommendations for Niagara on the Lake’s best accommodations including hotels, inns and bed & breakfasts.
We’ve included helpful links to the best hotel booking sites so you can compare prices and availability.
- Pillar & Post: Pillar & Post is a charming country inn offering guests luxurious suites, fine dining restaurant, gorgeous gardens and Niagara on the Lake’s largest spa.
- 124 on Queen Hotel: this resort-style hotel sits perched over Niagara on the Lake’s main street. It offers unique villa suites as well as a boutique spa and award-winning restaurant.
- Somerset Bed and Breakfast: is the only accommodation in Niagara on the Lake located on Lake Ontario. The properties 3 luxurious suites enjoy views of nearby Fort Niagara. Ranked as the best B&B in Niagara for a romantic getaway.
- The Charles Hotel: is our favourite boutique hotel in Niagara on the Lake. The historic property offers antique adorned suites, fine dining restaurant and a popular verandah that sits perched over North America’s oldest golf course.
There are plenty of great ways to explore the Niagara on the Lake wineries. Local hotels and tourism offices offer handy Niagara on the Lake winery maps so you can easily plot out your tasting route.
For those looking to get some exercise, it’s easy to hike or bike between the Niagara on the Lake wineries. Many of the Niagara wineries offer racks so you can easily lock up your bike while taking the time to enjoy a tour and tasting. If you’re staying over night, check with your hotel as many offer guests complimentary bike rentals. There are also several bike rental companies in Niagara on the Lake and guided winery cycling tours.
Keen to book one of the best Niagara on the Lake wine tours? Leave the trip planning to local experts and enjoy an unforgettable adventure in Ontario wine country!
- Niagara Falls Day Tour: this Niagara Falls day tour features a cruise, lunch and “journey behind the falls.”
- Niagara Falls Helicopter Tour: enjoy an unforgettable flight over Niagara Falls by helicopter.
- Niagara on the Lake Winery Tour: enjoy a private tasting tour of Niagara wine region featuring tastings and lunch in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake.
- Niagara on the Lake Wine Tour and Icewine Lounge: this 6 hour tour visits a local chocolate factory, award-winning wineries and special stop to Peller Estates 10 Below Icewine Lounge.
- Niagara Wine, Cider and Brewery Tour: this 5 hour tour showcases Niagara’s best liquids in style. Travel in a Mercedes Benz to sample local wine, cider and craft beer.
- Niagara on the Lake Foodie Tour: this 3 hour small group tour showcases Niagara’s multicultural culinary flare.
- Vine and Dine Bicycle Wine Tour: this 5 hour Niagara wine tour by bike stop at 4 award winning wineries at a relaxed pace. Enjoy a break half way for a gourmet lunch.
- Private Wine and Chocolate Tour: this private tour accommodates up to 6 people and stops at 9 Niagara on the Lake wineries and a chocolate factory.
- Niagara on the Lake English Cab Tour: this 6 hour Niagara on the Lake wine tour is offered in an authentic black British taxi. Perfect option for a romantic couple, this private tour includes wine tastings and fine dining dinner.
- Indoor Baby Goat Yoga and Cider Tasting: for a truly quirky experience, Small Talk Vineyards offers goat yoga followed by a cider tasting.
- 20 Valley Wine Tour in Beamsville: visit the best wineries in Beamsville on this 6 hour tour.
Niagara on the Lake is a year round destination for wine lovers visiting Ontario. The high season in Niagara runs from June to October with the summer months of July and August getting the most visitation.
We suggest coordinating your visit with one of the popular Niagara wine festivals that run throughout the year. Niagara Wine Festivals encourage visitors to sample from a selection of participating wineries and often feature live music, food pairings and exclusive galas.
The year launches with the Niagara Icewine Festival in January. Spring Sparkles Festival offers wine lovers an ideal getaway in the month of March. Niagara Homegrown Festival celebrates wine in warm weather every June. Niagara Grape & Wine Festival offers an homage to the annual grape harvest in September.
If you’re planning a tour of the Niagara on the Lake wineries, you’re likely keen to enjoy a tasty meal or two. Many of the Niagara on the Lake wineries have restaurants, perfect for those who want to tuck into a feast after a tour and tasting.
- Ravine Vineyard Restaurant: pair Ravine Vineyard’s stellar wines with house made charcuterie and fine dining dishes within a rustic farmhouse vibe. This is one of the most popular local spots to enjoy brunch in Niagara on the Lake.
- Trius Winery Restaurant: Chef Frank Dodd works with local farmers to produce refined country cuisine served in a chic dining room.
- Kitchen 76: Two Sisters Vineyards features an onsite restaurant serving rustic Italian dishes by Chef Christine Mast. In the summer months the covered outdoor patio gets packed.
- The Winery Restaurant at Peller Estates: Chef Parsons farm-to-table cuisine is served in a romantic dining room overlooking the vineyard.
- The Farmhouse Cafe: Caroline Cellars offers a cute brunch and lunch cafe open between 11:30am and 5pm.
- Oliv Tasting Room & Restaurant: extra virgin olive oil lovers swoon for the tasting room and restaurant at Strewn Winery.
- Whisky Bar Patio at Gretzky Estates: opened during summer and winter, guests can enjoy craft cocktails, poutine, pretzels and gourmet hot dogs.
Best Niagara on the Lake Wineries
Looking to visit the best Niagara on the Lake wineries? Depending on what you’re looking for, the wineries in Niagara offer a broad offering for visiting oenophiles. You’ll find happiness on a wine tour in Niagara on the Lake, exploring everything from tiny boutique vineyards to eye-popping barrel cellars.
Many of the Niagara on the Lake wineries offer fine dining restaurants, pretty patios, unique retail stores, tutored tastings and informative behind-the-scenes tours.
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1025 York Road in St. Davids, 905-262-4219
Chateau des Charmes is a French chateau-styled winery in Niagara on the Lake owned by the Bosc family.
Paul Bosc Sr. and his family planted Canada’s first commercial vinifera vineyard in 1978. It wasn’t until May 1994 when the winery’s now iconic chateau opened its doors.
Architects designed the Chateau des Charmes winery as an homage to the grand old Canadian Pacific Railway Hotels such as Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa and Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu in Charlevoix.
The Niagara on the Lake winery’s name was inspired by the Villa des Charmes, where the Bosc family spent their summers in Algeria.
Amélie Boury is Chateau des Charmes’s celebrated winemaker, responsible for harvesting the last 10 vintages. Boury shared, “As Gamay Noir is my favourite varietal to work with, I was thrilled to learn that Chateau des Charmes not only grew Gamay but they had their own unique clone – Gamay Noir ‘Droit’. I have enjoyed exploring the potential of this varietal and creating something that reflects the winery, the terroir and my personal winemaking style.”
Chateau des Charmes Tours
- Winegrowing Discovery Tour: this 1 hour tour is $15 per person. Enjoy a guided tour of the winemaking facility, Harvest Room and underground geothermal cellars. Finish with a guided tasting of 4 VQA wines. Available daily at 1pm and 3pm.
- Four at Four: this food and wine pairing experience is $20 per person and includes a Winegrowing 101 Tour. Sip four Chateau des Charmes wines, which are paired with local gourmet snacks such as cheese, charcuterie and chocolate. Available weekdays at 4pm.
1499 Line 3 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-2187
Ranked as one of the most historic Niagara on the Lake wineries, Inniskillin was given the first winery license since 1929 in Ontario on July 3, 1975. It holds the handsome title of being designated the first estate winery in Canada.
Inniskillin Winery was founded by Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser. The name Inniskillin is Irish and is derived from the site of the original winery in Niagara on the Lake whose land was granted to Colonel Cooper following the war of 1812. Cooper named the land after his regiment, the Inniskilling Fusiliers.
Inniskillin Winery was originally housed in a packing shed, then in 1978 the operation moved a few kilometres north to its current location on the Brae Burn Estate. In order to express true Canadian character, Inniskillin was designed to assimilate old and new world wine aesthetics. Local architect Raphaele Belvederecreating, created a sense of architectural harmony by utilizing the natural and historic elements found in its surroundings.
Inniskillin is known for being one of the Niagara on the Lake wineries, which does Icewine best. The winery has won many international awards for their various icewine expressions. On a trip to Tokyo we found a small 50mL bottle of Inniskillin Icewine selling for $50 at a liquor store. This just confirms the Asian markets penchant for Niagara’s finest Icewine!
If you’re visiting the winery in the summer, Inniskillin operates a seasonal Market Grill & Smokehouse. Estate Sous Chef Kayla Mudford’s uniquely Canadian menu includes Ontario beef brisket, pulled pork sandwiches, fresh salad, local artisanal cheeses and a drool-worthy smokehouse poutine. They also offer fresh Atlantic oysters on weekends. Guests can enjoy a glass of wine from the outdoor Wine Bar while enjoying an al fresco lunch on a picnic table.
Inniskillin Winery Tours
- Public Classic Tour: this tour is $20 per person. The informative tour shares the wineries history and visits the vineyards and winery. Finish by enjoying a tutored tasting of two premium VQA table wines and two award winning Icewines.
- Public Icewine Experience: this tour is $30 per person. This focused tour touches on our Founders’ history and their contribution to the Canadian Icewine industry. Following the tour, guests enjoy a structured tasting of three award-winning Icewines.
- Public Culinary Experience: this experience is $35 per person. This unique experience is available from June to September at noon. The experience follows the cycle of wine from grape to glass. Following the tour, guests enjoy a structured wine tasting of two premium VQA table wines, an award winning Icewine and seasonal nibbles.
2145 Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1-866-589-4637
It was a shared and unrelenting passion that brought colleagues and friends Don Triggs and Allan Jackson together in 1989 when they initiated the buyout of Labatt’s wine interest and founded Vincor International, launching a brand of vintage varietal wines.
The duo’s namesake Jackson-Triggs Winery first opened in Niagara on the Lake in July, 2001. The Arterra Wines Canada owned Niagara winery was designed with a barn-like construction in mind that accentuates Southern Ontario’s geographic personality.
The simple, extended horizontal barn-like structure is located parallel to the Niagara Escarpment to maximize exposure to north and south light. Production and hospitality functions are united under a continuous roof supported by full-span wood trusses. The two-story Great Hall creates a common space between the working winery, tasting room and outdoor patio.
Jackson-Triggs Winery’s resident Winemaker Levi de Loryn most enjoys working with varietals that constitute traditional sparkling wines, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Jackson-Triggs is the most famous of the Niagara on the Lake wineries for its unique entertainment program. During the warmer months of the year, the winery’s intimate amphitheatre is a much sought-after venue for contemporary Canadian musicians such as Sarah McLachlan and Jann Arden. An experience not to be missed, a concert ‘nestled in the vineyard, up close and personal’ is the perfect marriage of entertainment, gourmet food and award-winning wines!
Jackson-Triggs Winery Tours
- Public Essentials Tour: this tour is $15 per person. Guests learn about the winery’s architecturally significant building, tour the vineyard, production facility and barrel cellar. Finish with 4 samples of premium VQA wines.
- Jackson-Triggs Proposal Experience: costs $200 per couple. Begin with a private Jackson-Triggs tour and tasting, followed by cheese and charcuterie. Your guide becomes your personal concierge to ensure the successful execution of your proposal. Sip a congratulatory glass of sparkling to celebrate!
1096 Lakeshore Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-935-2866
Konzelmann Estate Winery was first opened in 1998 by Herbert and Gudrun Konzelmann. The property sits perched directly over Lake Ontario, making it the only Niagara on the Lake winery to be located on the waterfront.
Herbert is a fourth generation winemaker and much of the inspiration for the winery estate came from the original Konzelmann winery in Uhlbach, Germany. The grand doors to the entrance of the Konzelmann’s winery is modelled after the original.
The Konzelmann’s decided to pursue winemaking in Niagara after a hunting trip to British Columbia. While visiting, Herbert was amazed by all the wine regions in the province, and heard rumours of an industry in Niagara. Herbert ended up visiting the area and filled a suitcase with soil, which he took back to Germany to have analyzed. The results amazed him! Not only was it the perfect climate for grapes but it also had a nutrient rich soil to grow grapevines. A short time later he packed up all his winemaking equipment from operations in Germany in 10 x 40 ft containers to travel by sea to their new home in Niagara on the Lake.
With Konzelmann Estate Winery’s unique waterfront location, it enjoys seasonal temperatures that are milder due to the lake effect. The steady breeze from Lake Ontario offer the grapevines a consistent cycle of air, naturally preventing mold and mildew from occurring on the grapes.
The winery offers charcuterie platters year round, and an outdoor patio in the summer that serves Peachwine Sangria’s and wine by the glass. If it’s your first visit we suggest sampling Herbert’s favourites, Gewurztraminer and Icewine.
Konzelmann Estate Winery Tours
- Public VIP Tour: this 45 minute tour is $10 per person. This guided group tour offers a visit to the winery, vineyards and finishes with a structured tasting of a few popular Konzelmann wines.
- Junk Food Tour and Tasting: this 45 minute experience is $20 per person. Guests enjoy a truly unique wine tour in Niagara featuring a visit to the winery followed by wines paired with popular junk foods.
- Estate Cellar Experience: this 90 minute tour is $35 per person. Guests join a wine consultant to tour the winery and vineyards before enjoying a tasting seminar of Reserve wines and Icewine accompanied by cheese and artisan crackers.
15940 Niagara Parkway in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-8188
Lailey Winery has been involved in the winemaking process in Niagara on the Lake for over 40 years. With roots as grape growers since 1973, they began honing their craft of winemaking through hard work and lots of love.
Guests arrive to Lailey Winery by driving along a pretty tree-lined driveway. Skip inside the Niagara winery and you’ll find a casual wine tasting bar. The Lailey vineyards feature some of the oldest plantings of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Ontario. Lailey was the first winery to use Canadian Oak barrels for their wine, with the Canadian oak aged Chardonnay being one of the signature sips at the tasting bar.
Lailey Winery Tours
- Discovery Tasting: this 45 minute tour costs $12 per person. Guests walk through the vineyard and learn about Icewine production before enjoying a tasting of 3 wines.
- Signature Tour & Tasting: this 1 hour tour costs $25 per person. The winery’s signature experience includes a winery tour followed by a tasting of 5 wines, which are paired with a charcuterie and cheese board.
14778 Niagara Parkway in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-262-6852
The Ice House Winery is dubbed “Niagara’s only Icewine specialist,” as it’s the only winery in Niagara on the Lake that exclusively produces Icewine.
Owners Jamie Macfarlane and Karen King opened The Ice House Winery in 2005. Jamie Macfarlane is the winery’s resident winemaker, who first began his training in Cote D’Or, France. He’s now been producing Icewine for over 30 years and has won countless awards for his Niagara wines.
Karen shared, “Jamie believes Vidal is the King of Icewine and his Northern Ice Premium Vidal Icewine has won 3 Grand Gold Awards and numerous Gold medals from Monde Selection, the oldest and most prestigious award a wine can receive. Jamie’s Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Reisling, Gwertztraminer Icewine have also won Gold Medals from Monde Selection. Jamie loves Vidal for Icewine and we call The Ice House Winery, the House of Vidal.”
So where did the Niagara winery get its name from? Karen explained, “The Ice House name was inspired by a painting Jamie’s mother had of an Ice House the family had in Carmenville, Newfoundland. The painting now hangs on a wall at The Ice House Winery.”
The Ice House Winery is located in a cozy 19th century peach-packing barn. Skip inside and you’ll find an intimate tasting bar, retail shop and choir of icewine fermentation tanks.
Macfarlane’s crisp “toasting style” of Icewine has made The Ice House famous for its innovative food pairings and N’Ice Slushies.
290 John Street East in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1-888-673-5537
Peller Estates first opened its doors in 2001. It took designers and architects 6 years to construct the now iconic Niagara on the Lake winery.
Peller Estates reflects the dreams and vision of Andrew Peller and is a testament to all he achieved in his lifetime. Andrew Peller first arrived in Canada from Hungary in 1927. Having owned a series of successful businesses, he came to Niagara to pursue his dream. He envisioned a day when Canadians, like Europeans, would come to appreciate premium quality wines and enjoy sharing them with family and friends.
Katie Dickieson has been the winemaker at Peller Estates Winery since 2012, ““I want the wine to tell you a story about where it came from. What kind of soil did it grow in, was the weather hot or wet, and was it picked early or late? It should be complex; you should get hints about what you will taste when you smell it and then the flavours should be layered and interesting. And of course, it has to taste great,” said Dickieson.
Peller Estates offers one of the most elegant fine dining restaurants at any of the wineries in Niagara on the Lake. Executive Chef Jason Parsons’ FeastON designated kitchen sources 98% of its ingredients from Canadian suppliers, and at least 50% from Ontario. During the warm summer months the restaurant’s outdoor patio packs with oenophiles. They gather here to fork through lobster tossed noodles and sip cool and crisp glasses of Niagara VQA wine.
Peller Estates Winery Tours
- Greatest Winery Tour: cost of this tour is $35 per person. The Greatest Winery Tour begins with a glass of sparkling wine on the Peller Estates patio followed by a visit to the vineyard. Guests continue to an underground barrel cellar for a wine tasting. Continuing through the cellar guests discover Niagara’s only igloo-like lounge, borrowing a parka to step inside the 10Below Icewine Lounge. Constructed out of a mammoth 13, 607 kilos of ice and kept at a frosty 10º below zero (the ideal temperature for harvesting Icewine grapes), you’ll sample Peller’s award-winning Icewine.
- The Big Cheese Theory: costs $45 per person. This fun interactive experience offers a hands-on tasting where guests have an opportunity to smoke, infuse and brûlée cheese. The group then experiments with custom creations paired with a flight of Peller wines.
- The Ultimate Food and Wine Experience: costs $49 per person. Guests enjoy a premium food and wine pairing, curated by Chef Jason Parsons.
1696 Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-3147
Pillitteri Estates Winery in Niagara on the Lake first opened in June, 1993. The land previously played home to Gary’s Fruit Market, where winery owners Gary, Lena and their children sold fresh fresh at the roadside.
Pillitteri’s Jeff Letvenuk offers details on the winery’s design, “The tasting room expanded upon the original fruit market on the site. From the outside it still maintains the appearance of a modern fruit market however on the inside it has been heavily stylized to tell the story of the Pillitteri family.”
Letvenuk adds, “Each room tells part of this story from the unique Awards Gallery at the main entrance to the tasting bars lined with cork walls. The winery tour facility and barrel cellar is also uniquely styled to tell the story of wine as there is a 14 foot metal grape sculpture hanging in the vestibule, a mezzanine overlooking the production facility and a large iron gate protecting the historic Icewine library. The barrel cellar itself is a modern take on traditional Roman architecture with pillars and archways to each cellar bay. The focal point is the largest one piece concrete table in North America.”
Pillitteri Estates Winery is best known for producing rich, full-bodied reds, fragrant and lively whites, and luscious Icewines. If it’s your first visit to Pillitteri, Letvenuk says, “You cannot visit Pillitteri without trying our Vidal Reserve Icewine. It is one of the most recognized wines from Canada in the larger wine world. Pillitteri is known around the world as one of the best Icewine producers and this wine is our most consistent and highest quality award winning Icewine.”
Public walk in tours are available daily at noon, 2pm and 3pm. Price is $5. Group tours, private tours and Icewine tours are available with advanced reservation.
1366 York Road in St. Davids, 905-262-8463
Ravine Vineyard is located on a fifth generation family farm near the historic village of St. Davids. The Lowrey-Harber vineyard is home to an award winning organic winery, restaurant and grocery store.
The family has been farming on the property since 1867, originally growing ripe cherries, pears, peaches and plums. In 2004, 34 acres of the upper farm were re-planted as vineyards, including 3 Bordeaux reads, as well as chardonnay and riesling. Construction began in 2007, and the winery opened to the public on July 30, 2009.
As guests drive onto the Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery property, they are greeted by the historical Woodruff House, which is home to a retail shop, tasting parlour, and cozy grocery. The iconic building is credited as one of Canada’s Top 50 most architecturally significant ancestral homes, and a perfect example of the Georgian Loyalist-style.
To the right of the Woodruff House is the historic packing shed, which has been transformed into a farm to table fine dining restaurant by Chef Matt Payne. To the left you’ll find the wine production facility, which was built primarily underground for ideal wine-making temperatures.
Winemaker Lydia Tomek produces some of Niagara on the Lake’s finest wines thanks to Ravine Vineyards unique location and terroir. On the St. David’s Bench soils are lighter, its airflow and water drainage more consistent and its perch on the escarpment is at its highest elevation.
So what bottle is Ravine Vineyards’ Head Winemakers current favourite? “I’m really loving the 2018 Chardonnay. It was one of the first wines I had the chance to blend and work on when I joined the Ravine Vineyard team. What’s in the bottle definitely expresses my style; there is a softness in the enticing first sip, the mid palate is richer and rounder with riper fruit tones and butter toffee, and then the wine finishes clean and bright with refreshing notes of candied lemon. This is a fun wine to play around with at the dinner table and one with versatility when it comes to pairing with various foods,” says Lydia Tomek.
Ravine Vineyards Tours
- 5 Generations Experience: This experience will guide you around the family farm and into one of Niagara’s oldest buildings for a tasting of 4 Ravine wines. $20 per person.
- Lowrey Farm Favourites: Learn the best techniques to pair wine and food so that you will feel more confident with your dinner and wine choices. Guests enjoy 4 food pairings with wine at $30 per person.
- Calling All Canines: Romp around the farm with your 4-legged friend and knowledge guide. Tour includes 4 wine tastings, 1.4km walk with water and a treat for your pooch. Five dollars from every ticket is donated to the Welland & District SPCA. $25 per person.
15608 Niagara Parkway in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-9463
Reif Estate Winery was founded in 1977 by Ewald Reif when he started growing some of the first premium grapes in Canada.
Later, in 1982, he opened Reif Estate Winery in Niagara on the Lake. In 1987 Ewald’s nephew Klaus moved from Germany to Niagara to join him as winemaker. The Reif family boasts 13 generations of winemakers in their native Germany.
The original Reif Estate Winery was housed in the 1870’s Coachhouse of the Riverscourt Estate. The main house is now a B&B, The Grand Victorian Mansion. The popular bed and breakfast in Niagara on the Lake offers 6 well-appointed rooms. Light fare is offered seasonally from the outdoor kitchen in the winery’s Sensory Garden .
The new Reif Estate Winery was designed to reflect the heritage of the original Coachhouse. Inside, winemakers Klaus Reif and Roberto DiDomenico, who have been making wine together for over 30 years, share a love for Cabernet Sauvignon. “We are most proud of wines from our First Growth Collection that are only produced in the best vintages with fruit from our oldest vineyard blocks. The Cabernet Sauvignon is always a stand out with rich tannins and a complexity that showcases the terroir of the vineyard,” said Klaus Reif.
The Reif Estate Winery features an elegant Tasting Bar, which is open daily throughout the year, and speciality tastings at their Sensory Bar. Wine tours are offering during the warmer months of the year 3 times a day and during weekends in the winter.
1242 Irvine Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-935-3535
Small Talk Vineyards first opened in 1990 under the name Stonechurch Vineyards.
Owner Hank Hunse’s parents were the original owners of the farm and they passed down the property to their son 13 years ago. Since taking over the Niagara on the Lake winery, Hank fully rebranded the winery and launched a craft cider line called Shiny Apple Cider.
Visit Small Talk Vineyards and you’ll find a building that was initially a barn used during the families old farming days. Julie Enns, the wineries Retail Manager shared, “We try and make it feel like you’re coming over to a friends house when you enter our building. Guests are encouraged to relax on the couches by the fireplace, or enjoy our patio in the warmer months.”
So where does the Niagara on the Lake winery’s name come from? Enns explained, “Hank’s inspiration for Small Talk Vineyards came from how we all drink wine; any night of the week with good friends over ‘small talk.’ Our bottle labels represent this small talk – the front label share things we typically say, while the back label is what we’re actually thinking.” Without a doubt, Niagara’s cheekiest winery!
Hungry wine fans visiting Small Talk Vineyards can enjoy Mama’s Chilean Empanadas, which are sold onsite beginning in May from Friday to Sunday.
2059 Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-1806
Stratus Vineyards first opened its doors in 2005 and is owned by David Feldberg. Stratus Vineyards is famous for being the first fully LEED certified winery in the world.
The land was originally purchased from a former grape grower in 2000. This particular parcel of land has been farmed for several hundred years and was part of the formative agricultural activity of Niagara on the Lake. The Historical Society has suggested that on or nearby the Stratus Estate, there was a Tollgate.
Skip inside the Niagara on the Lake winery and you’ll find a chic retail shop and sun-soaked tasting room. The spacious backyard patio features comfy bench seating and outdoor fireplaces.
The name “stratus,” refers to the cloud formation, which depicts strata or layers, which is representative of the layers of soil variation within the farm. It also alludes to the layers of complexity within the signature wines, Stratus White and Stratus Red.
Stratus Vineyards’ winemaker Jean-Laurent Groux is the founding Director at Stratus and is passionate about the ‘art of assemblage’ with flagship wines, Stratus White and Stratus Red. Born in the Loire Valley, he also has an inherent affection for Cabernet Franc.
Groux shared, “I allow the vineyard to lead my winemaking style and embrace the diversity of the varietals within the of the 43 vineyard blocs to create wines of texture, depth and complexity.”
Stratus Vineyards hosts special events throughout the year featuring guest chefs and has a picturesque Vineyard Terrace with a DJ spinning on Sundays for cool, contemporary relaxation and wine enjoyment.
1339 Lakeshore Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-1229
Strewn Winery was originally opened in 1997 by Joe Will and Jane Langdon, who also operate the Wine Country Cooking School.
The 10-acre property in Niagara on the Lake was originally home to the Niagara Canning Company, which dates back to 1940. In its heyday the business employed over 200 people during the harvest season.
Jane Langdon described the Niagara on the Lake winery’s design inspirations, “About two-thirds of the 50,000 square foot original building was taken down in the Fall of 1996. We attempted to keep a feel for the roots of the building during the rebuild, using the original concrete blocks and matched the original metal roof. The design is agricultural-industrial. The original part of the building became the winery production area and is much the same as it would have been during the early years.”
Joe Will spent a year working on a winery in British Columbia before enrolling in a graduate program in Australia. He later completed a vintage in the Barossa Valley before returning to Canada. Since 2011, Strewn Winery’s winemaker, Marc Bradshaw, has been crafting aromatic Sauvignon Blanc and Bordeaux reds, especially Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Of all the Niagara on the Lake wineries, Strewn is special for having its own cooking school. Wine Country Cooking School offers hands-on classes for recreational cooks with menus that are delicious, healthy and seasonal. The winery is also home to OLiV, a tapas restaurant by Chef Alex Mahamuni.
769 Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-684-4994
The Hare Wine Co is owned by John Hare, who opened the Niagara vineyard in October, 2016. The Hare family has been in the European wine industry since the early 1900’s. The family still owns and operates 80 acres of vineyards in Kochovo, Bulgaria.
The Hare Wine Co’s 10 acre farm is mapped inside the Four Mile Creek sub-appellation, which is noted for its many creeks that provide natural drainage ideal for premium grape growing.
The architecture of the winery building is reflective of the owner’s travels through Europe. Upon arrival guests pass through tall iron gates and into a grand, outdoor courtyard, featuring vast brick arches, columns and twinkling fairy lights overhead.
The architect utilized rustic and reclaimed materials such as 100 year old bricks, reclaimed barn board flooring repurposed into shelving, and a tasting room and retail boutique designed to resemble a turn-of-the-century factory with high ceilings and industrial elements.
The Hare’s winemaker Alex Kolundzic, has been responsible for the wine program since 2013. Alex shared, “The Hare wines showcase a distinct and unique sense of place as shown through the use of classic cool climate varietals. While crafting VQA Cabernet Franc and Riesling, I prefer to stay true to the characteristics of these Niagara specialties.”
All year round guests can order a wine, cheese and charcuterie pairing for two priced at $30. From June to October The Hare Winery patio serves stone-oven pizza, seasonal snacks and unique wine cocktails.
1249 Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1-800-582-8412
Trius Winery was originally known as Hillebrand Winery, a pioneer in Niagara on the Lake’s winemaking industry.
The winery first opened in 1979 and spent more than 30 years crafting VQA wines from premium grapes grown in four appellations of Niagara on the Lake. It was rebranded as Trius Winery in 2012.
Hillebrand Winery was famous for being the first in Niagara to make Icewine, and they have produced Icewine every single vintage since inception. In 1991, Trius Red won the trophy for the best red wine in the world at the International Wine and Spirits Competition in London, UK.
Today, Trius Winery is home to the largest underground sparkling cellar in Canada. Winemaker Craig McDonald has been responsible for the Trius Winery program since 2010 and has a particular penchant for sparkling wines.
“I think I’m inspired by the fact that as a wine region we have so much untapped potential. Ontario wines keep getting better every year, despite the arduous conditions and challenges we constantly face. There is no sameness to our seasons and we’re constantly adjusting our approach from grape growing right through the winery to blending,” said McDonald.
Trius Winery, like its sister concept Peller Estates Winery, also offers one of Niagara on the Lake’s best fine dining restaurants. Executive Chef Frank Dodd prepares locally-inspired Niagara Wine Country cuisine in a romantic, sun-soaked dining room.
Trius Winery Tours
- The Trius Tour: this tour costs $39 per person. The winery’s signature tour combines world-class wines with tasty treats and awesome art installations. Dubbed “Niagara’s most Instagram-able experience,” guests can chill with a glass of rose on a hot pink vineyard perch, descend into the depths of Canada’s largest underground sparkling cellar or snap a selfie in a Bubble Tub.
- Black Glass Challenge: this experience costs $20 per person. At The Loft, the winery’s signature tasting room, guests begin with a glass of Trius Brut to cleanse the palate. The challenge is to blind taste three mystery wines, disguised in opaque black glasses. Guests use their senses to uncover what varietal they are tasting. Three small food items are paired with the selection of mystery wines.
240 John Street East in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-0592
Niagara on the Lake’s Two Sisters Vineyards first opened its doors in 2014. The stunning estate was inspired by Italian Renaissance design, specifically 16th century architect Andrea Palladio.
Two Sisters Vineyards is 100% family owned and operated, with the Marotta daughters Angela and Melissa, operating all aspects of the Niagara on the Lake winery.
“Our father came to Canada as a young artisanal stonemason with a love for winemaking. Dedication and hard work, centred on family values, allowed our parents to develop deep roots yet still holding on to the traditions from Italy. Years later and with seven children between us, our family was able to fulfill our life-long dream in Niagara-on-the-Lake,” says Melissa Marotta-Paolicelli.
Two Sisters Vineyards includes an onsite restaurant, Kitchen 76, featuring rustic Italian dishes by Chef Christine Mast. In the summer months the covered outdoor patio gets packed with enthusiastic oenophiles.
Skip over to the Two Sisters Vineyards tasting room and sip through some of Niagara on the Lake’s most exclusive wine bottles. Two Sisters Vineyards Winemaker Adam Pearce explains, “Our winery is unique in that we have a very close proximity to the river and the lake for all of our red vines. We don’t source any red fruit as it’s all estate. We bottle all reds with the Niagara River VQA designation.”
Pearce adds, “If you could try only one bottle it would be our Eleventh Post, it’s the most approachable, consistent and best reflection of each individual vintage. That being said the most special bottle we have is our Blanc de Franc traditional method sparkling, unique to Ontario as we are the only winery making a Traditional Method Cabernet Franc.”
Two Sisters Vineyards Tours
- Explore the Grape: an hour long introductory tour offering guests a visit to the vineyard and barrel room. Cost is $34 per person and includes tasting of 4 wines.
- The Experience Tour: a 90 minute experience focussed on red wine and the art of barreling. Taste wines directly from the barrel to learn how wines evolve over time. Cost is $80 and features several wine tastings and a food pairing.
- The Twilight Tour: this 90 minute evening experience features a vineyard stroll and picnic. Guests learn about vine management and grape varieties. The $65 tour ends at the Two Sisters Vineyards pond with a wine tasting and picnic food pairing.
1219 Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1-844-643-7799
Canada’s namesake hockey celebrity opened his self-titled winery in Niagara on the Lake in 2017.
Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery was designed by award-winning architect Gren Weis. The 23,000 square foot facility includes a winery, distillery, tasting areas, retail and hospitality spaces, and barrel cellar.
The design is a modern barn-like structure with immense glass walls to allow for uninterrupted views between the interior spaces and the landscape beyond. The building’s materials also plays homage to the surrounding agriculture lands using light metal roof, stained wood siding and a mixture of concrete and stone interventions.
Most Canadians have a story to tell or a memory of The Great One that they hold dear. Throughout the estate, guests have the opportunity to see cherished family pictures from Wayne Gretzky’s childhood growing up in southern Ontario from the family’s private collection, as well as historic hockey moments that define The Great One.
Wayne Gretzky Estates winemaker Craig MacDonald also manages the wine program at nearby Trius Winery. The winery’s must-try wines include single varietal reds, red blends and Rieslings.
Of all the Niagara on the Lake wineries, Wayne Gretzky Estates is by far the most popular for visiting tourists. Thanks to the owners fame as well as the winery’s excellent tourism experience. Guests can enjoy wines here of course but we love the concepts unique craft distillery, which offers its own tasting bar for whisky fans.
The backyard also features two fun gathering spaces: a Whisky Bar Patio and Beer Garden. Guests can enjoy casual fare created by executive Chef Frank Dodd (also from Trius Winery), hand-crafted cocktails by resident mixologist, Zac, and Gretzky wine and beer by the glass daily. In the winter months the backyard famously transforms into a skating rink, where kids skate and parents sip wine and wave.
Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery Tours
- The Wine, Whisky & Beer Tour: this tour costs $35 per person. This 45 minute signature tour offers guests the opportunity to visit the winery, brewery, distillery and barrel cellar while sipping samples along the way.
- Sensory Lab: this tour costs $39 per person. Enjoy a 45 minute guided wine tasting experience with a focus on honing your sensory skills. The seminar includes wine, whisky and culinary treats.
- The Whisky Bartender: this tour costs $39 per person. This 45 minute interactive experience is hosted by Wayne Gretzky Estates’ best bartenders. You’ll learn insider tips on how to create the best whisky cocktail and sharpen your bartending skills by preparing garnishes and syrups.
1181 Lakeshore Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-646-5133
Nomad at Hinterbrook Winery is unassuming, subtle and upon walking in the front doors feels very minimal in look, much like that of a modern art gallery. Through a minimalist approach they are creating wines that are clean and unadulterated expressions of Niagara’s terroir.
Owners George Liu and Violet Yeh bought the winery in 2014. The winery originally opened in 2010 and previously was a peach and chicken farm until 1998.
In business now for 7 years, the winery prides itself on being off the grid in that they are eco-friendly using geo thermal heating, cooling, solar panels, and reused rainwater.
What’s most interesting about this Niagara on the Lake winery is its innovative labels – they’re blank. They want you to crate your own message, memory or moment by drawing something on the label. Clever in that a nomad is a bit of a wanderer, on a journey.
1425 Lakeshore Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-1122
Originally founded in 1993, Richard Liu and Roslyn Lo took over Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery in 2013. The Niagara on the Lake fruit winery specializes in producing high quality wines made from Ontario tree and berry fruits.
In 2020, Sunnybrook Winery rebrand to Ironwood Cider House, a 5-year project in the making. Lovers of Sunnybrook Winery’s famous blueberry chocolate and cranberry wines will still be able to purchase them onsite. Though the jaw-dropping expansion to the former farmhouse indicates Ironwood Cider will certainly be one of the most popular new additions to Niagara on the Lake’s beverage scene.
Liu explained, “Ontario craft cider uses local apples that otherwise would be thrown away or unharvested. Ironwood is a local tree varietal that is known for its hardiness. We emphasize courage as a symbol to that attribute – things are hard in general, but through perseverance and dedication, everything is achievable in life!”
Carter Snow joined the team in 2018 and is now the brands official cider maker. During our visit we sampled Ironwood’s signature hard cider alongside a fruity peach and strawberry.
925 Line 2 Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-0777
Lou Puglisi first launched Pondview Estate Winery in 2010. His family had been growing grapes commercially on the property since 1974, supplying a handful of wineries in the area.
After Lou was awarded the title of Grape King in 2009, he decided he wanted to turn some of the grapes he was selling into his own wine.
Visit Pondview Estate Winery in Niagara on the Lake and you’ll find a farm chic interior. The winery also features a patio, perfect for lounging with a glass of wine and charcuterie board. Visitors can peak into the production facility while doing group tastings amongst the tanks and barrels.
The Niagara winery gets is name from the large pond situated amongst the vines. Pondview Estate Winery’s Director of Sales Marcel Morgenstern explained, “Our onsite vineyards are the Bella Terra vineyards and are what Lou’s parents called the ‘beautiful land’ that became their new home when they moved here from their native Sicily, Italy. Lou grew up on this farm and decided to call our top line of wines Bella Terra to remember the early days of this growing business and to keep a connection to his parents native Italy.”
Fred DiProfio has been the winemaker at Pondview Estate from the beginning. Chardonnay from the oldest vines on the property (now 32 years old) is what put Pondview on the map after winning a medal at Chardonnay du Monde in its first vintage. Fred also loves making lighter style of wines, including a refreshing Cabernet Franc Rose, but the big Bordeaux reds is where the passion lies.
Hungry visitors can enjoy cheese and charcuterie boards all year long, while in the summer the winery runs a food truck from Friday to Sunday.
Pondview Estate Winery Tours
- Tour and Tasting: this 30 minute private tour is $16 per person. Enjoy a tour of the winery and a sampling of 3 of Pondview’s classic wines: one red, white and Icewine.
- VIP Premium Tasting: this 30 minute tour is $22 per person. Experience the wineries premium Bella Terra wines paired with a selection of artisan meats and cheese.
- Classic Cheese & Wine Pairings: this 30 minute tour is $16 per person. Learn how cheese and wine compliment each other while sampling the wineries finest wines and local fromage.
581 Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-641-2548
Southbrook Vineyard is a certified organic and biodynamic winery in Niagara on the Lake. Owner Bill Redelmeier first launched the Ontario wine brand in Richmond Hill in 1991. Later, in 2008 it was moved to its popular location in Niagara on the Lake.
Drive up to the Niagara winery and you’ll find a distinctive 200 metre long wall, an ode the the buildings slick and contemporary design. Southbrook Organic Vineyard’s hospitality pavilion became the first winery building to receive gold level LEED status when it opened in 2008.
Skip inside Southbrook Organic Vineyards and you’ll find natural light, while floor to ceiling double-glazing controls temperature transfer. Indoor water usage is controlled by automatic and low-flow fixtures. Outside a bioswale with native wetlands plants help break down pollution from stormwater draining off the road and parking lot. In 2017, Soutbrook installed 432 solar panels as part of a net metering project, which helped cut the winery’s power consumption by 80%.
Southbrook’s Winemaking and Viticulture Director Ann Sperling has been working at Southbrook Organic Vineyards for 15 years. Sperling shared, “Our vineyard produces excellent Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot. Other varietals of interest produced by our key grower, Heather Laundry include Gamay and Pinot Noir.”
During the warm summer months guests can enjoy a glass of wine and freshly made pizza on the al fresco Southbrook Pizza Patio. The space seats 20 guests under a covered patio roof and features picnic tables and comfy Muskoka chairs.
991 Four Mile Creek Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-262-0289
Gregory and Yannick Wertsch first opened Between the Lines Winery in November, 2010.
The duo are grape growers turned vintners, “Our parents purchased the vineyard in 1998. After some renovations and new plantings we began selling our grapes to other estate wineries in Niagara on the Lake,” says Wertsch.
Greg and Yannick asked their parents if they could rent their existing barn, which was originally used for peach and plum packing. The brothers, along with their parents and friends, renovated the old barn into a tasting, lab and production area. The winery now has two barns on its site.
The Niagara on the Lake winery’s name comes from its location, “between lines 5 and 6 along Four Mile Creek Road in Niagara.”
Yannick Wertsch has been acting as the chief winemaker at Between the Lines winery since he was 21 years old, in 2009. Yannick has a penchant for producing Riesling, Pinot Noir and Lemberger varietals.
Between the Lines’ claim to fame is being the industry’s first VQA winery to sell premium wine in a can in Canada.
Between the Lines Winery Tours
- Grape to Glass Tour: On a guided tour explore the vineyard and learn about the process of picking the right grapes. Experience finishes with a tutored wine tasting. $10 per person.
- Decadent Sparkling, Icewine and Chocolate Tasting: This luxurious tasting focuses on Niagara’s celebrated Icewine. Guests start with Outset Sparkling Wine made with a drop of Icewine and served with herb toasted nuts. Vidal Icewine is then paired with creamy white chocolate. Finish with Cabernet Franc Icewine served alongside sea-salt sprinkled dark chocolates. $15 per person.
- Cheese and Charcuterie Tasting: Kick back on the winery’s porch or barrel cellar to enjoy a delicious food and wine feast. Guests enjoy a private dining experience featuring 8 wine tastings alongside a gourmet cheese and charcuterie board. $40 per person.
1811 Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-1259
Joseph’s Estates Wines first opened in Niagara on the Lake in September, 1996. The property was originally a peach orchard when Joseph Pohorly bought the farm. Joseph Pohorly’s roots in Niagara’s wine industry run deep. He was previously the founder of Newark Winery, then Hillebrand, which has now been rebranded as Trius.
Visit Niagara’s historic winery and you’ll find a simple grey brick building on Niagara Stone Road, across from the beloved Harvest Barn (buy a pie, or two!) The interior of Joseph’s Estates features a retail store and central wine bar where expert oenophiles pour some of Niagara’s most celebrated wines.
Must-try wines at Joseph’s Estates include their Vidal Icewine, old vine Pinot Grigio and the winery’s new and enthusiastic focus on skin-fermented whites, orange wine!
1067 Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-685-5673
The Lakeview Wine Co is the retail and online division of Diamond Estates Wines and Spirits, Ontario’s third largest producer of VQA wines.
Operated since 1991, Lakeview Wine Co celebrated the opening of its retail store and tasting centre in May, 2017. The official name change occurred on the 25th anniversary of Lakeview Cellars in October 2016, coinciding with the ground-breaking ceremony of the new facility in Niagara on the Lake.
Visit Lakeview Wine Co and you’ll find a building that appears as a simple wedge shape, featuring a distinctive exterior of Japanese Shou Sugi Ban charred cedar.
Lakeview’s resident winemakers Scott McGregor and Jessica Wallace produce a wide range of wines including reds, whites, roses, sparkling wines, icewines and kosher wines.
From May to October, Lakeview Wine Co offers charcuterie boards with a glass of wine in the properties al fresco picnic area.
The Lakeview Wine Co Tours
- Cellar Floor Experience: this 1 hour tour is $15 per person. Guests enjoy an insider’s look into the winemaking process featuring a tour of the vineyard and production facility. Finish with a structured tasting of 4 wines amongst barrels and tanks. Offered daily at 10:30am, 12pm, 2pm and 5pm.
- Structured Cheese & Wine Pairing: this experience lasts 30-45 minutes and costs $20 per person. Enjoy a guided wine tasting paired with delicious cheeses. Offered daily at 1pm.
- Wine Cocktail Mixology: this 1 hour experience costs $20 per person. Lakeview wine experts demonstrate how to make three cocktails and assist guests in making their own drink. Available daily at 5pm.
1208 Concession 1 Rd in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-7270
Marynissen Estates Winery was founded in 1990 in Niagara by John and Adrianna Marynissen. The vineyard is home to the oldest commercial planting of Cabernet Sauvignon in Canada. John was a pioneering force for viticulture in Niagara, becoming one of the first in the region to being successfully growing vitis vinifera.
The property was purchased in 1953 by the Marynissen’s who had emigrated from the Netherlands. The property was home to an old pig barn and a small Labrusca vineyard. John began growing vinifera grapes in 1976 when he planted Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, and Gamay, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon in 1978. This was unheard of at the time, when the vast majority of people did not believe that European grapevines could not survive the harsh Canadian climate.
Today, Marynissen Estates Winery is led by Mitchell McCurdy. A Brock University gradudate, Mitchell joined Marynissen in the Fall of 2018 after experiencing vintages in both Niagara and British Columbia. Mitchell enjoys working with Riesling and Gewurztraminer, especially arrested fermentations, as well as bold reds Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
McCurdy shared, “Our winery is home to the oldest commercial planting of Cabernet Sauvignon in Canada. These vines are still thriving today showcasing some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon in Niagara. The clay soils work well with the deep roots of our vines to provide a consistently delicious product every year.”
135 Taylor Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-641-2252
Niagara College Teaching Winery first opened to the public in November, 2002. Perhaps one of Niagara on the Lake’s most unique wineries, it’s the only Teaching Winery in Canada.
We suggest visiting beverage fans coordinate their visit to the Niagara College Teaching Winery so they can also pop into the nearby Niagara College Teaching Cidery, Niagara College Teaching Brewery and Niagara College Teaching Distillery.
The winery’s building was designed by local architect Emilio Raimondo. It was crafted to be both welcoming for tourists as well as a great facility for teaching.
Niagara College Teaching Winery’s General Manager Steve Gill explained, “The inspiration to open the winery was to enhance the educational experience of Wine and Viticulture students at Niagara College.”
Gill continued by sharing details about the resident winemaker, Gavin Robertson, “He’s been working with students to make wine and cider for 8 years. Gavin is also a graduate of the wine and viticulture program at Niagara College and now has won numerous awards for the wines that he and the students produce.”
Winemaker Gavin Robertson shared, “We produce vineyard driven wines from a wide array of classic cool climate varietals that express the unique soils and climate patterns of Niagara-on-the-Lake, while training the next generation of winemakers and vineyard managers in all aspects of applied oenology and viticulture. From traditional method sparkling wines to fresh, aromatic whites, from barrel-fermented Chardonnays to structured Meritage blends, from wild-ferment Pinot Noirs to Icewines, our portfolio endeavours to reflect and model the excellence and diversity of the wonderful wines being produced in the Ontario wine industry.” F
Feeling hungry during your visit to Niagara College Teaching Winery? We suggest visiting Benchmark, the Canadian Food and Wine Institute’s on site campus restaurant. The winery also offers a food truck during the busy summer months.
11 Lakeshore Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-646-9617
Palatine Hills Estate Winery is owned by the Neufeld family, who have been farming the land for three generations. The Niagara on the Lake winery officially opened in the summer of 2003, but its first vintage dates back to 1998.
Many artifacts of the War of 1812 have been found on the 110 acre farm. These include officer buttons from uniforms, coins dating back to 1807, a sword handle, large fragments from used cannon balls, musket balls and even a wine spigot. The property has also been under grape production for well over a 100 years, although the oldest vines currently on the property date back to 1989.
Proprietor Charles Neufeld explained, “The winery was first converted from the old farm building where we would fix the tractors and store our farm equipment. As the years went on the space expanded several times to increase production capabilities and capacity. Most recently, the retail environment was renovated to better represent who we are and showcase our personality as a winery and family. Our idea was to create a more rustic and relaxed approach to wine, removing the pretension from the traditional winery experience, while still being able to explore high quality VQA wines.”
Neufeld added, “In 1998, before the winery and when we were just a farm, we were producing Icewine juice for a local winery and had some extra that we decided to keep for ourselves. Eventually we turned it into Icewine and bottled it. In 2003, a bottle made its way into the 2003 Ontario Wine Awards and took home the award for ‘Ontario Wine of the Year.’ It was the final push we needed to make the jump from vineyard to winery.”
We suggest first time visitors to Palatine Hills Estate Winery sip through winemaker John J Neufeld’s sparkling wines, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and dry cider.
Palatine Hills Estate Winery’s interior feels like a cool craft brewery, featuring high top bar chairs, cool loungers and a garage door that opens onto a sunny front patio in the warm summer months.
1829 Concession 4 Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-2271
Ferox Winery is the former Vignoble Rancourt Winery, which opened its doors in 2005.
The peach farm property was first purchased by the Lionel and Lorraine Rancourt. In the 90’s vineyards were planted and a barn was converted into a small boutique retail space.
Ferox Winery in Niagara on the Lake is owned and managed by Fabian and Stephanie Reis. Fabian explained the wineries evolution, “Ferox itself started as a virtual winery out of Reif Estate Winery, with our first vintage in 2015. Ferox is a Latin word for fierce, which was developed by a group of students at the Art Institute of Orange County, California as a class project in marketing and design. The 3 barrels that were made in 2015 were supposed to be just for fun and the quality was so outstanding that we were encouraged to begin a brand.”
Fabian has been producing wines for over a decade, alongside his grandfather Herbert Konzelmann (of Konzelmann Estates Winery fame). Ferox by Fabian Reis now allows the young winemaker to develop his own boutique winery in Niagara on the Lake. His favourite varietals to work with include Sauvignon Blanc and bid red blends.
Fabian added, “Ferox is very different in that we showcase Ontario through unique varietals. For example, our 2018 white blend is predominately Kerner, a white German grape varietal that thrives in a cool climate. We also produce a Dornfelder Icewine which is a Germanic grape varietal with Canadian twist.”
15376 Niagara Parkway in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-262-0636
Sam and Lina Pillitteri opened Riverview Cellars in Niagara on the Lake in September, 2000.
The original farm was established in the 1800s, cultivating various fruit trees. Today, you can still see the canning factory foundation and small train station foundation at the back of the vineyard.
Riverview Cellars’ General Manager Michael Pillitteri explained, “This would have been used in the 1800s before refrigeration. Fruit would be harvested, canned and shipped out quickly. My parents bought this property in 1975. Grew fruits, then converted the orchards to vineyards in the early 1990’s.”
River Cellars’ architecture is based on the barn-roof and farm barn-style aesthetic. Michael adds, “We had an existing fruit market that was built in the early 1900s, and a barn that was added in the early 1980s. Since our building was originally set close to the road, we wanted to keep that footprint, so we renovated and added onto the building for expansion. We added a larger production building in the early 2000’s that was desperately needed to help our business expand.”
So what inspired Michael’s family to open a Niagara on the Lake winery? “We used to grow grapes for my uncle Gary Pillitteri at Pillitteri Estates Winery. He encouraged my father Sam Pillitteri to open his own winery. The name came from the original farm name, “Riverview” has been the name since the early 1800s and so we wanted to keep it intact,” says Michael.
Alyssa Bator has been the winemaker at Riverview Cellars since 2014. Highlights from Bator’s latest vintage include bottles of Cabernet Franc Icewine, Gamay Noir, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.
Riverview Cellars Tours
- Traditional Tour: 30 minute tour of the vineyard and winery including a tasting of 3 table wines. $10 per person.
- Traditional Tour + Cheese and Charcuterie: Enjoy the traditional tour plus a cheese and charcuterie platter including three local cheese and cured artisanal salami.
- Winemaker’s Tour: Offered by appointment during the Spring and Summer on Sundays only or by special request in the Fall and Winter. Enjoy a private 30 minute tour with winemaker Alyssa Bator followed by a tutored tasting of three table wines and Vidal Icewine. Finish with a plate of cheese and gourmet crackers.
1010 Line 2 Road in Virgil, 905-468-8814
Caroline Cellars is a Niagara on the Lake winery managed by the Lakeit family.
The wineries front of house manager Justine Lakeit explained, “We have had the vineyard here on Line 2 since 1976. Rick and Frieda purchased it as newlyweds. It was not always 100% vineyard, we grew vegetables as well as had a small orchard, but over the years converted the entire farm to wine grapes.”
Caroline Cellars opened in August 2002, offering visitors a casual barn vibe that incorporated Rick’s love of knotty pine. The rustic wood used throughout the space is complimented by a fireplace in the wine boutique surrounded by fieldstones that were sourced from the vineyard.
Rick is the main winemaker at Caroline Cellars. He grew up with German parents who made wine at home, and also had a custom grape juice pressing business.
The families German heritage is reflected in the wineries Riesling, Gewurztraminer and top seller “Farmer’s White” featuring a blend of Riesling, Gewurztraminer and Vidal. Caroline Cellars also offers a small fruit wine portfolio featuring plum, cranberry and blueberry.
In June 2012 Caroline Cellars opened an onsite restaurant concept, which serves lunch daily, year round. Justine describes The Farmhouse Cafe, “Our menu is upscale cozy and casual, with most items being made from scratch, in-house, using local ingredients wherever we can. In season we have our own herb garden, as well as a large garden, where we grow various veggies for the restaurant. We want guests to feel like they’ve sat down to eat in a farmer’s kitchen – where the meals are hearty, home cooked and warm the soul.”
348 Concession 6 Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-682-2100
Colaneri Estate Winery is a family-owned vineyard, which opened to the public in September, 2010.
Chris Colaneri explains, “the vineyard was originally purchased and maintained by the Colaneri family in 1980, 13 years after immigrating from Italy. They grew grapes for 9 years before allowing the land to remain vacant until replanting in 2004.”
The winery was built in 2008 in the shape of the letter C. “First for the Colaneri name and a tribute to their ancestors but also to ensure visitors felt they were being welcomed to the winery, like an embrace. The Italian façade was made to look like walking down a street in Italy,” says Chris.
Colaneri Estate Winery operates with a winery team that is made up of staff and family members that work to produce Appassimento-style wines which are rich and bold in flavour.
From June to September on Saturdays and Sundays the winery operates Piazza Colaneri. Visitors can enjoy wines by the glass and pizza margherita from 11am-5pm.
865 Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0
De Simone Vineyards first opened to the public in Niagara on the Lake in August, 2017.
The Niagara winery is owned by Vincenzo De Simone, who with the help of his team planted the first vines in the summer of 2010. The winery and vineyards are situated on the site of the family fruit orchard, which grows assorted vegetables, plums, cherries, nectarines, apricots and peaches.
De Simone’s ancestors owned and operated a wine boutique and barrel cellar in the mountains of southern Italy, supplying an entire village with wine. Vincenzo spent most of his youth, along with his three siblings helping his parents on the family farm and learned the trade of growing and producing fruit from a very young age.
The family’s farm now features 10 acres of vinifera vines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc, and Riesling. De Simone Vineyards’ wines are made from 100% estate-grown grapes.
Visit De Simone Vineyards and you’ll find a rustic meets chic interior featuring wooden barn doors, oak wine barrels, concrete floors and steel shelving.
De Simone Vineyards produces a variety of whites, reds, roses, sparkling and dessert wines. Vincenzo’s primary focus is on red wine, especially single-varietal Cabernet Franc, which is well-suited to the terroir of the Niagara region. He believes in labour-intensive vineyard techniques including shoot-thinning, leaf-plucking, and cluster-thinning to gain full maturity, higher brix, and riper phenolics.
1385 Larkin Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-1079
Frogpond Farm Winery’s claim to fame is being Ontario’s first organic winery. The boutique winery in Niagara on the Lake is located on a hobby farm and connected to owner Jens Gemmrich’s home.
Gemmrich emigrated to Canada from Stuttgart, purchasing a Niagara orchard in 1996. After clearing apple, pear and peach trees, vines were planted and nurtured organically producing the first vintage in 2001.
Frogpond Farm Organic Winery features 10 acres of vines. You’ll find Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Merlot surrounding the properties pretty backyard pond. Twenty additional acres of organically farmed vines, Gamay Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Vidal and Chambourcin are located nearby on Line Four.
If you’re traveling to Niagara with a young family, Frogpond Farm is one of the best family-friendly wineries. Gemmrich said in the warm summer months visiting children are encouraged to play in the backyard with the farms friendly animals. Parents can watch their children from a backyard picnic table while sipping and swirling Niagara’s first organic wine.
615 Concession 5 Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 289-479-5969
Icellars Estate Winery is a small boutique winery founded in Niagara on the Lake in 2010 by the Icel family. The winery first opened in May 2016 on a former peach orchard.
The winery is located on 60 acres, carefully selected by owners Adnan and Elif for its ideal growing conditions for premium vinifera varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay.
Ednan explained the Icellars Estate Winery viticulture program, “I’ve been a winemaker for 10 years. We focus on big dry red wines especially Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and their blends.”
The winery building was designed and built on the principles of having everything under one roof, creating a simple yet functional space. Small lot wines are processed separately by gravity flow in an environmentally friendly design. The simplicity of the architectural design is echoed by offering only limited production wines for sale in a practical but cozy tasting room.
Icellars Estate Winery’s label design captures icons of ancient life. The stag design is inspired by the wine drinking vessels used by the Hittites of Anatolia. Incorporated into the label is the Hittite sun disk – a symbol of prosperity, fertility and celebration. The Niagara on the Lake winery’s label offers an homage to the families Turkish roots.
963 Queenston Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-684-6453
Queenston Mile Vineyard is the newest Niagara on the Lake winery, opening its doors in November 2019.
Alison Zalepa, Queenston Mile Vineyard’s General Manager explained, “We have owned the land and farmed it for over 20 years, selling fruit to our sister winery and local winery partners. Our goal was to turn the traditional tasting room on it’s head. We are moving away from the traditional tasting room and pivoting to more experiential spaces. This new space is specifically designed to challenge the status quo.”
Queenston Mile Vineyard was designed to provide an immersive and interactive experience. A winery and farm where guests can connect with the natural world and landscape. Zalepa adds, “The flexible hospitality space allows for multiple uses – the barrels, sparkling cages and tasting tables are all portable, allowing for multiple uses over the course of the year.”
So what inspired some of Niagara’s most celebrated grape growers to launch Queenston Mile Vineyard?
“We had been selling premium Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to other wineries and we knew it was time to start making small-batch wines ourselves. We are a group of long-time, dedicated industry pioneers and this gave us a chance to build a winery and brand that we wanted to hang out at,” says Zalepa.
Rob Power is Queenston Mile Vineyard’s resident winemaker. Power has been producing award-winning wines for 19 years, sharing his love for sparkling wine, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Power explained, “It’s taken two decades to fully appreciate what makes our farm so unique. You can’t hurry great wine, though. And for me, it’s the constant searching and experimenting that makes this journey so rewarding. The sparkling wines are my best representation of cool climate Ontario wines from a one-of-a-kind terroir – true grower wines.”
For those feeling peckish during a visit to Queenston Mile Vineyard in Niagara on the Lake, Chef Ross has built a unique wine and food tasting program, which will launch this summer. Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy small-batch wines with expertly paired seasonal bites.
304 Hunter Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-4321
Big Head Wines is a winery in Niagara on the Lake owned by Andrzej and Janina Lipinski.
The company launched as a virtual winery in July 2013, opening later in April 2015 for visitors. The Niagara on the Lake winery’s name comes from the families Polish heritage, the running joke that Polish people have “big heads.”
Jakub Lipinski, Head of Operations at Big Head Wines shared, “Our current building used to be a sour cherry and peach processing area that we re-purposed for our needs. This is a minimalist building only using necessary fixtures for the purpose of making wine, and serving our customers.”
Big Head Wines’ winemaker Andrzej Lipinski enjoys, “wild fermentation, unique grape varieties, and flavour maximizing techniques like appassimento.”
The wineries retail space is in the cellar so guests enjoy a mini tour en route to a tasting. Guests can enjoy a selection of any 4 wines for $10 per flight. Big Head Winery is uniquely known for its seated 90 minute Biggest Tasting, which includes 10 wines served blind, grana padano cheese and crackers. It is conducted by a sommelier team for $25 per person and requires a reservation.
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