Published June 8, 2012
My girlfriend and I just returned from a wine tour in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It was a fantastic weekend that you should definitely try, even if you’re not a wine snob. There’s nothing not cool about biking through the countryside, half buzzed, on your way to another bar.
There are companies that will organize such a weekend for you but planning it yourself is easy and gives you much more flexibility. With thirty-six wineries to visit, there’s so much to do!
You need to determine how you will get yourself to Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL) and how you will transport yourself when you’re there. Essentially, is this a bike tour or not? For us it was.
The region is highly bikable and you can rent bikes in town. IYou could also bring your own bikes from Toronto using Go Transit’s Bike Trains. If you’re driving to NOTL and you are not interested in cycling, I suggest having a wine tour company transport you around.
Break up the region into three sections and tackle one each day: the Lakeshore (east-west), Niagara River (north-south), and the central area. It’s possible to do more than one per day if driving and honestly, you should try to visit a ridiculous number of wineries. You can’t really go wrong but these were some of my favourites:
This winery doesn’t boast a fantastic estate but you have to visit and try their fantastic fruit wines. You won’t find a single grape at Sunnybrook. Instead you will sample wines made from golden plum, black currant, and chocolate.
Biking to the Ice House will take you half an hour but it’s the perfect finish on a hot day. They make an ice wine slushy that is amazing.
Frog Pond is not indicated on the map above perhaps because it was the smallest winery we visited. They make organic wine that I really enjoyed but the cherry on top was the farm animals. My girlfriend and I spent half an hour watching the baby lambs, not two weeks old.
Wine tastings vary in cost and arrangement. Some wineries offer $1 a sample, others offer three samples (known as a Flight) for $5, and higher end wineries offer three for $10. The middle option is the most common. That $5 can easily add up so if money is particular tight, feel free to share a single tasting with your partner. If you’re spending a night in Niagara-on-the-Lake, opt for a B&B over a typical hotel because they’re very likely to give you coupons for free tastings.
Put It All Together
- Rent a B&B.
- Pick a region for each day you’re going to be there.
- Print the map.
- Bring your bike.
- Hope for sun.
- Drink wine.
Have a good weekend!