Discover the fruits of the Niagara region with a tour of the area’s wineries. You won’t leave without taking home a bottle—or several!
—By Viviane Kertész
Like most wineries in the Niagara Peninsula, Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery offers tours of their cellar, tastings and the possibility to pick up Vintners’ Quality Alliance (VQA) bottles available exclusively on their property. Oenophiles are spoilt for choice at this mod Douglas-fir-and-aluminum agro-building that houses vintages aged in Canadian, French and Hungarian oak barrels.
Situated on the sloping hillside of the famed Beamsville Bench, Thirty Bench Vineyard & Winery earns its street cred through production methods like hand-harvesting.
Known for its blends, the architecturally striking Stratus Vineyards uses only top-tier varietals in what French viticulturist J-L Groux labels simply as “Stratus Red” or “Stratus White.” Quality control ensures the second-tier stuff goes into plonk called “Wildass.”
At Château des Charmes, the Bosc family grafts their soil typing and microclimate expertise to produce award-winning yields. These sixth-generation vintners from France’s Alsace region planted the first successful commercial crop of vitis vinifera in Canada—the European grape species including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Riesling—from which the world’s finest wines are made.
What’s now a nine-hectare home farm at Lailey Vineyard Wines began in the 1950s, when William Lailey propagated some of Niagara’s first French hybrid varieties. A longtime industry leader—Donna Lailey was the only female founding member of the VQA—it boasted, in 2002, the first commercial release of Canadian oak–aged wine countrywide.
The grape-growers at Reif Estate Winery date back half a millennium to a small, German winemaking town. Rooted here in 1977, there’s now a tasting bar and a sensory garden. Saturdays at 3:30 p.m., learn the principles of matching food and wine.
Ontario’s only certified organic winery, Frogpond Farm eschews insecticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers.