Chances are the Niagara Escarpment is the first place that comes to mind when you think of Ontario wine. There are currently over 50 wineries spanning the region, each with its own unique atmosphere. producing everything from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot to Icewine and Rosé.

One of the best ways to celebrate the season’s bounty is during Taste the Season, which takes place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in November. A one day pass to the Niagara on the Lake event lets you enjoy four holiday-inspired food and wine experiences from over 20 partner wineries. COVID-19 precautions and proof of vaccination are required at all locations.

Here are the top Niagara wineries you should add to your list.

Wayne Gretzky Estates

Wine, whisky and beer enthusiasts must visit Wayne Gretzky Estates in Niagara on the Lake. While the estate’s distillery is home to state of the art distilling equipment, the winery features a beautiful barrel fermenting and aging cellar, and tasting room. And — of course — Wayne Gretzky Estates would not be complete without the Great One’s backyard rink, so bring your skates to enjoy a couple of laps around the ice.

Wines to try:

2018, Whisky Oak Aged Red — A gorgeous Cabernet-Merlot blend, this bold wine is aged in French and American oak, and then finished with their Red Cask whisky oak. It offers flavours of dark berries, vanilla and a subtle smokiness with a smooth and round mouthfeel.

2018, Vidal Icewine — This award-winning icewine is a classic bouquet of peach, tangerine, starfruit and floral honey. It’s the perfect combination of rich and luscious yet sweet and acidic.

Palatine Hills Estate Winery

Palatine Hills Estate Winery is known for its modern wines, produced from the very lands where soldiers of the historic War of 1812 once fought. Although grapes have grown in the vineyard for over 30 years, Palatine Hills came into existence as a winery in 2003, and immediately saw success when their Icewine received Wine of the Year honours at the Ontario Wine Awards. The winery sprawls over a large, lush area, and embraces being off the beaten path, allowing you to kick back and relax with a nice glass of wine in hand.

Wines to try:

2018, 1812 Red — With flavours of black cherry and rich, ripe plums, this Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon blend is all about staying true to dry-house style. Pair it with a burger off the grill, pasta or a hearty stew, and you won’t be disappointed.

2016, Gewurztraminer Icewine — A little spicy, this icewine boasts aromas of grapefruit, apricot and honey. Drizzle it directly onto apple pie or ice cream, or have it chilled on its own — there’s no right or wrong answer.

Konzelmann Estate Winery

With its lakefront views, exterior that looks like it came straight from ancient Europe and laidback atmosphere, Konzelmann Estate Winery is nothing short of beautiful. Situated on the shores of Lake Ontario, the winery focuses on cool-climate wine varieties, such as Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Merlot. To top it off, Konzelmann prides itself on providing visitors with an informative and educational wine experience, so you’ll leave here knowing things you may not have known before.

Wines to try:

2019, Peachwine — This white wine was created right from the Konzelmann Estate Winery’s neighbour’s fresh, local peaches. It’s light, and filled with lovely aromas and a refreshing crisp finish.

2019, Merlot — A classic medium-body wine, this award-winning Merlot is rich in aromas of black currant, cherry and milk chocolate. It pairs well with smoked salmon and pasta dishes, or on its own.

Riverview Cellars Estate Winery

Originally an orchard nestled along the Niagara River, Riverview Cellars Estate Winery began converting into a vineyard in the early 90s, officially opening to the public in 2000. The family owned and operated estate grows and produces award-winning wines, with a focus on Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Pinot Grigio and Cabernet Sauvignon. Whether you prefer a dry red or a fresh white, Riverview Winery offers a nice selection of wines for every palate. Alongside, you’ll be taken through a thorough explanation of the entire wine-making process.

Wines to try:

2018, Bianco Riesling-Gewürztraminer — Irresistible and downright delicious. Leading with perfumed floral, ripe citrus and apricot, this Riesling and Gewurztraminer blend pairs well with grilled salmon in a creamy dill sauce.

2019, Pinot Grigio - Notes of honeysuckle, apple and tropical citrus make this award-winning Pinot Grigio youthful, light-weight and fresh. Riverview Winery recommends pairing it with tuna sashimi or a hearty mushroom risotto.

Peller Estates Winery

There’s a reason why this stunning estate is so popular amongst Ontario wine connoisseurs. For over 50 years, Peller Estates has been crafting quality wines inspired by food, making them pair perfectly with everything from pizza to foie gras. The winery boasts Niagara’s only igloo-like lounge, where you can relax in a Peller Estates parka and sample the Icewine they call their liquid gold at ‑10C. With a wine portfolio that features the Andrew Peller Signature Series, Private Reserve and Family Series, Peller Estates consistently offers a superb wine-tasting experience both at the winery as well as in the comfort of your own home.

Wines to try:

2019, Peller Family Reserve Winemaker’s Red — Accented with spice and violet, this medium-bodied and fruit-forward red blend offers a bouquet of dark plum, black cherry, vanilla and sweet oak. 

2018, Peller Estates Private Reserve Cabernet Franc — A recent award winner at the 2021 National Wine Awards, this Cabernet Franc is filled with flavours of juicy black cherry and plum, followed by spice and blackberry notes.

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