Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Real Girl Travels - Niagara on the Lake



A Real Girl Travels Adventure:


So another post for Real Man Travels and another great adventure had. This time I actually made it, and I was early to boot!

On Sunday September 22nd at an early morning start time of 8:00am I set out on a highly anticipated adventure to Niagara on the Lake. Along side my best friend we began our 2 hour drive. On the agenda for the day were 4 wineries, and a micro brewery tour and tasting. We were very excited to do this as neither of us had ever been to Niagara on the Lake or to a wine tasting. We were definitely not disappointed.


First stop was Stratus. (@Stratuswines ) As we pulled into the parking lot of our first winery we fell in love with the architecture. The building is made of sustainable materials presented in a uniquely modern and raw way. Aside from the fantastic wines at Stratus, the building and the way the winery is run is very fascinating. No small detail was overlooked. From the recycled materials used in the construction of the building, to the pump-less wine flow technology, to the geothermal heating/cooling, this facility certainly earned its' 2005 LEED certification. (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)


While at Stratus we took part in Swirls, Sips, and Hops, where we did a tour of the winery at Stratus, followed by a tasting. After that we walked next door to Oast House Brewery (@OastHouseBeer ) where we had a tour of their red barn facility and a nice sampling of their different beers available. This tour was a fantastic way to take in 2 different tours at once with two distinctly different atmospheres. From Stratus I purchased a bottle of their Stratus 2009 Red (which was on our tasting) and from Oast House, I bought a bottle of their Saison and Biere de Garde.


From Stratus we drove about 2 minutes down the road to Joseph's Estate Wines. (@NiagaraWine ) A family owned and operated winery that opened in 1996 officially. The family feel is definitely present at this facility. It was such a warm and welcoming experience. Our tour guide Joe made you feel like you were a part of the family. With a tour of the vineyard and wine making operations, we ended it with a great tasting. We both left with a bottle of their fantastic ice wine.


Keeping with the family run wineries we made our way to Konzelmans Estate Winery. (@KonzelmannWines) This winery is full of history with the 6th generation of the Konzelmann legacy currently running the business. When we first arrived, it was a very busy place! The tasting room and boutique is where are tour began and we were escorted through the grounds for a full tour of the vineyard and facility. The vineyard boasts a gorgeous view of Lake Ontario with a rolling Toronto city landscape in the distance. Reminds you that this little piece of paradise really isn't so far from home. Following our tour we were treated to a tasting and a lesson in "The 5 S's of Wine Tasting". This lesson is featured in the video at the end of this post. We both purchased 2 bottles from Konzelmann's, one white Pinot Blanc, and one red Pinot Noir. 



After Konzelmann's we went to our hotel to check in. We stayed at The Harbour House Hotel. (@NiagarasFinest ) This boutique hotel is absolutely stunning. Easy to get to, with ample parking, the hotel is situation right by the water with a fantastic view of the harbour. In the lobby you're treated to a complimentary wine tasting, their service was prompt and check in was smooth. There are elevators, how ever Chantelle and I used the stairs more. Our room was adorable with 2 single beds, a fantastic bathroom complete with a walk in shower, jacuzzi tub, and a rubber duck. The beds were incredibly comfortable and the hotel was pleasantly peaceful at night. 



The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle to anywhere in town, complete with drop off and pick up, which was fantastic. We took the shuttle to our next tour and tasting at Strewn Winery. (@NiagaraWine ) Here we had a tour of the facility followed by a tasting. Located at Strewn is a fantastic restaurant called Terroir La Cachette (@TerroirCachette ) They use locally grown and raised products which really gives you a true taste of Niagara on the Lake. Our server, Steven, was so knowledgeable about the area, the food we were eating and the wine we were drinking, he really enhanced our entire dining experience. From beginning to end, our tour and tasting at Strewn, followed by our fabulous dinner at Terroir La Cachette, was incredible. 


We finished our night off at a local pub called The Olde Angel Inn. Established in 1789 and rebuilt in 1816 after the War of 1812, The Olde Angel Inn is a great place to go for a local pint and a ghost story or two. We both had a pint of the Angel Inn Lager.

Our Monday morning began with a tour and tasting at Coyote's Run. (@coyotesrun ) This winery boasts some distinct soils that are unique to the area. They grow grapes from both the Red Paw soil and the Black Paw soil. It's amazing the difference in taste that the soils can produce in the grapes. Our tour was conducted by one of the onsite wine makers so we were treated to trying an unreleased Cabernet Sauvignon directly from the barrel. It was delicious! 

Following Coyote's Run we finished off our wonderful winery weekend at Ravine Vineyard (@RavineVineyard ) It was at Ravine that we had one of the most unique vineyard tours; geo-tracking. Along with a guide from Ravine, we set out on a geo-tracking adventure through the entire vineyard. Using a GPS app on my iPhone we were able to locate all of the boxes and learned a little bit about the vineyard with each box we uncovered. It was a definitely a fun way of seeing and learning about the vineyard. Following our geo-tracking adventure we had lunch at the restaurant onsite. This restaurant uses vegetables from the organic garden which is right on site, as well as their own farm raised pigs, and they even bake their own bread. The meal was delicious and had just as satisfying a view of the entire vineyard and surrounding area. 



Also Check out this Awesome Niagara on the Lake Video 


While we managed to take in 6 wineries and 1 brewery there is so much more to do in beautiful Niagara on the Lake. Here are some upcoming events:

• In November, the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake host "Taste the Season," a touring pass event which features a seasonally-inspired VQA wine and food pairing at each of the 27 member wineries.

• In January, we celebrate Icewine with the Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival, which includes tutored tastings with some of Canada’s leading Icewinemakers, live jazz, Icewine-inspired culinary creations, and an Icewine cocktail competition, as well as a lot of fantastic winery events. We could even get you out picking some Icewine grapes.

• In February, there's "Days of Wine and Chocolate," a touring pass event which features VQA wines matched with chocolate-infused dishes at each of the wineries.

• In May the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake welcome spring with "Wine and Herb," a touring pass event which features different herb-themed food pairing matched to a premium VQA wine selected to highlight the flavour and aroma of the herb at each of the 27 wineries.

Planning a guys weekend? Here are some other great activities that would be great:


● Hitting the greens and enjoying Canada’s largest concentration of golf facilities in one region, including the Niagara-on-the-Lake Golf Club, which is North America’s oldest course. Niagara is also home to the Niagara Golf Trail, which includes six great area courses open for public play that are known for their beautiful views, challenging courses and fabulous club houses.



 Packages from transportation partners with great options for the guys, including a Land, Sea and Air package that offers guests the opportunity to ride the Niagara River’s Class 5 rapids in a Jet boat, have an unforgettable Land Rover off-roading adventure and soar over Niagara’s vineyards in a helicopter.

 Fantastic dining options including Barrel Cellar dinners, dinners hosted by the Winemaker, casual food truck fare and more.
There is also a little thing called the Winemakers' Selection Tasting Pass, which allows pass holders  to enjoy one tasting of a Winemaker's Selection wine at each of the 27 Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake any day of the year. Touring passes, which are $27 per person, plus applicable taxes, can be purchased online at www.wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com/winemakers-selections-tasting-pass or by calling Tourism Niagara-on-the-Lake at 905.468.1950. You can also buy your passes at any of the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
If you're interested in more information please visit www.wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com

More links to check out:
http://wineriesofniagaraonthelake.com/

About the Author

Chris Williams is the founder and creator of Real Man Travels. Connect with Chris on Twitter.

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