When our Canadian friends Greg and Carol realized we were serious about coming up to Ontario for the Mariposa Folk Festival, they suggested we spend a few days in the Niagara Falls area on the way home. Not only would we see the falls, but this area is home to several wineries. Right up my alley!
Niagara Falls is about a two and a half hour drive from Orillia, so we planned on having lunch at the falls. We ate at Table Rock House Restaurant – pricey but the view alone is worth it! I was blown away at how beautiful and majestic the falls really are! Do yourself a big favor and be sure to see the falls from the Canada side, not the U.S. side 🙂
Our friends Greg and Carol suggested that we stay in Niagara on the Lake, which is about a half an hour drive from Niagara Falls. It was a great suggestion! We passed several wineries on the way, and decided to stop in at the winery owned by “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky.
I am usually underwhelmed by wineries owned by celebrities – so I was pleasantly surprised by Gretzky Estate Wines! Yes, there are a lot of hockey pictures paying homage to the owner, but very tastefully done. We were able to do a tasting right away, and were escorted to their tasting area and seated at a table. Our wine server was very knowledgeable about their wines, and they were really good! If wine is not your thing, they have beers and spirits. We especially liked their sauvignon blanc and purchased a bottle to take with us to the hotel.
Niagara on the Lake is a well preserved colonial-style village, with an Old Town that reminded me a lot of St. Charles, Missouri – lots of boutiques, restaurants, pubs, bakeries, coffee shops, etc. We stayed at the Oban Inn – I had initially found it after researching several places, and our friend Greg also recommended it. The inn is situated on Lake Ontario and within walking distance of the restaurants and shops of the Old Town. Our room was great, with a fireplace and a view of Lake Ontario.
We ate dinner across the street from the Oban Inn at the Niagara on the Lake Golf Club Restaurant. Great food and views of Lake Ontario 🙂
The next day was designated as our “wine day”. Woo hoo! There are lots of wineries in this area, and we were only going to go to three of them. I did some research prior to our trip, and if you plan on going to this area checking out these blogs: The Best 25+ Niagara Wineries That’ll Have You at Merlot and Niagara on the Lake Wineries Guide. Since we were visiting the wineries on a Tuesday I did not make reservations ahead of time – though if I was visiting on a weekend I would recommend making a reservation. Also, some of the wineries are not open on Mondays and Tuesdays, so do your homework before you go!
Our first stop was at Chateau des Charmes. I was seriously wowed by the beauty of this winery! It looked like a French Castle in the Canadian countryside. We each did a tasting, and were very impressed with their Riesling. I’m normally not a fan of Riesling wines, but theirs was very good! Their other white wines were also tasty! The red wines tasted to me a little thin, but that may just be my experience and taste buds. They were not bad, but I preferred their white wines.
Our second stop was Peller Estates. Instead of doing a wine tasting, we chose to have lunch at their restaurant. Another gorgeous wine estate … and another good white wine! I see a pattern emerging 😉
By the way, the weather was stellar while we were there!
The last winery we visited was Reif Estate. They really made us feel welcome there, and again I enjoyed the white wines!
But what did we do on the way back to the inn? Stop at the Wayne Gretzky Estates for a bottle of their sauvignon blanc!
I looked on a map later and saw that the New York Finger Lakes Wine Country is basically located at the same latitude as the Ontario Wine Region – future wine trip!
We ate dinner that night at The Old Angel Inn. We had a nice walk downtown and ate some delicious food.
The next day we headed back to the U.S. and home after 10 wonderful nights in Canada. My three takeaways from this trip:
- Canada really isn’t that far – you can easily drive or fly there and not feel jet-lagged.
- The exchange rate for the U.S. dollar in Canada is very favorable – $1 US = $1.35 CAD
- And I feel like this is the most important – the people are great! I mean really great!!
Goodbye Canada – for now anyway!