Yesterday, my parents, Gabriel, and I took our bicycles down to Niagara-on-the-Lake to create our own bicycle winery tour! My dad came up with the idea in the summer, when we frequently biked around Niagara-on-the-Lake. We thought it would be amazing to cycle around in the autumn, when it was crisp and cool, and all the leaves were changing colour. Mother Nature did not disappoint, as yesterday we were surrounded with trees and fields ablaze with orange, red, and yellow.
Our first stop was Ravine Vineyard, a rustic winery dating back to 1867. I loved the charming old Scandinavian farmhouse that had recently been restored, as well as the Gewurtztraminer wine that tasted of peaches and lychee fruit. Ravine is also where Anna Olson, a host on the Food Network, runs her small bakery and restaurant.
With our palates buzzing from the light fruity wines at Ravine, we cycled over to The Ice House, home of the world-renowned Niagara Northern Ice ice wine. I had expected ice wine to taste like a fruity, syrupy sweet concoction that would make my teeth ache, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it was bubbly and refreshing. We were greeted with complimentary ice wine slushies, which were seriously the most delicious slushy I've ever tasted, and then asked to try the same ice wine by the glass. While I favored the slushy version, I also really loved the liquid version too! The Ice House was unique in that it was a former peach factory, and was set amidst rows and rows of peach orchards, all of which were a burnt-orange colour that looked like they were glowing.
|Near the Ice House|
|Barrels at the Ice House|
|Our bikes outside of the Ice House|
Our next stop was Frogpond Farm Winery, a quaint organic winery. As we were pulling up, it looked like nothing more than a historic red-brick farmhouse. The sound of roosters was deafening, and the fallen leaves crunched under our bike tires. Frogpond Farm Winery doesn't use insecticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers in the production of their grapes. While I opted out of a tasting at this particular winery, I was told that their Cab Franc is spectacular. Their rooster farm (not sure how this fits in with the whole winery thing...but hey! it was fun to see) and pumpkin displays are also worth mentioning.
|Entrance to Frogpond Farm|
|Frogpond Farm Winery|
|Brand new barrels waiting to be filled at Marynissen Estates|
Our fifth and final stop was Inniskillin, perhaps one of the most well-know wineries in Niagara, along with Peller, Chateau des Charmes, and Henry of Pelham. We pulled up to Inniskillin just as fat raindrops began falling from the ominous sky. Inside the winery we found tons of other wine-tourists, all escaping from the rain and sampling Inniskillin's offerings. This winery is, by far, the most commercial and professional winery we visited. Although it was definitely stunning and grand, I think I prefer the quaint independently-owned vineyards like Ravine and Marynissen.
|Autumn Colours at Inniskillin|
Living so close to Niagara-on-the-Lake, I'm glad I finally visited the wineries that they offer. A few weeks ago, when Christian was visiting, we toured the Vineland wineries of Niagara. Equally stunning, I am amazed at how different each winery is, and how much personality they infuse into their wine-making, packaging, and tours. Overall, my favourite stop was Ravine. I just can't get over how beautiful the 17th century farmhouse is, with its white and blue decor set against rustic pre-renovation woodwork. The best part of the day? Spending time with Gabriel and my parents, and enjoying how gorgeous our area of the world is this time of year.
|Last look at Inniskillin|