10 Reasons to Drive to Niagara

By Suresh Doss  |  May 14, 2014

Everyone's taking notice of Niagara wine country these days. With another hotly anticipated season of new award-winning wines about to be released, and a plethora of new dining options, escaping from the city never tasted so good. Here are 10 reasons to escape the dizzying construction in Toronto and head into wine country.

  • Trius Winery at Hillebrand

    One of Niagara's oldest wineries, the 40-plus-year-old Trius is a benchmark for quality wines in the region. No one in Niagara-on-the-Lake does food and wine quite like Trius. The winery hosts a number of events throughout the year where you have the opportunity to eat Frank Dodd's cooking. Two of the most popular are the jazz and blues festivals in July and August. There's also the Trius Red Barrel Cellar Dinners,  the annual Ice Winemaker’s Dinner and the Harvest Table Dining Series. Plan your trips accordingly.

    1249 Niagara Stone Rd.; 1-800-582-8412

  • El Gastronomo Vagabundo

    Ontario has a booming food-truck scene but it all started in Niagara. As one of the country's first gourmet food trucks, El Gastronomo Vagabundo was a regular pop-up on the winery circuit before the truck made its way to the big city. Four years after launch, the truck can still be regularly seen in the region, participating in a variety of events and setting up by the vines.

    Follow the El Gastro truck online at @elgastronomo

  • Five Rows

    From big to small, and then super small. Five Rows winery is tucked away from the main winery strip in NOTL, and you'll have to call ahead to see if the barrel cellar tasting room is open. Fifth-generation farmer Wes Lowrey's grapes are some of the most prized in the region, and end up in many wines in Niagara. He also makes high-quality small batches of wine.

    361 Tanbark Rd., St Davids; 905-262-5113

  • Tide and Vine

    You know the street-food scene is thriving in Niagara when the region has its own seafood cart. Owned and operated by two award-winning oyster shuckers, Katrina Steeves and Mike Langley, Tide and Vine has a rotating seasonal menu that showcases the best in seafood. Think live sea scallops served ceviche-style, or grilled oysters topped with bacon marmalade.

    Follow the Tide and Vine cart online at @tideandvine

  • Château des Charmes

    For over 35 years, Château des Charmes has been producing a versatile portfolio of award-winning wines, and the Bosc family behind the winery has been credited for putting the region on the world wine map. Take your time and experience the guided tour, which will take you from the vineyard to the geothermal cellars and bottling line. Finish off with a tasting of wines, and do not leave without trying the rosé sparkling wine, the Riesling and Gamay Noir.

    1025 York Rd.; 905-262-4219

  • Pie Plate

    This popular cafe on the way into town is the destination for pastries and tarts. There's something about that flaky buttery crust that guarantees you can't stop after one slice. Pies are made fresh and are available whole or by the slice. Rhubarb and peach pies are a must, and grab a few beef and Guinness meat pies on the way out.

    1516 Niagara Stone Rd.; 905-468-9743

  • Breweries

    Niagara's craft beer scene has exploded in the last two years, with two breweries leading the pack. Both Silversmith Brewery and Oast House are committed to producing
    small batches of beer using premium ingredients. Both have also gained a reputation for their ongoing food pop-ups, regularly hosting food-truck parties.

    Silversmith Brewery; 1523 Niagara Stone Rd.; 905-468-8447

    Oast House Brewers; 2017 Niagara Stone Road., 289-868-9627

  • Dillon's Small-Batch Distillers

    It's not all about wine in Niagara - the region is exploding with artisanal beer, cider and spirit producers. Dillon's small-batch spirits are reason enough to visit the sipping room. Three
    spirits take center stage: rye, vodka and gin. The distillery also produces an array of award-winning bitters (perfect gifts for the bartender in your life). They recently released a sweetened
    London-style gin infused with rose hips and rose petals.

    4833 Tufford Rd.; 905-563-3030

  • Ravine Vineyard

    Ravine Vineyard is still a young winery compared to the rest of the producers in the region, but has become a destination for all things food and drink. The bistro overlooks the family vineyards and features an ever-changing carousel of ingredients from local farmers and producers. It's become one of the best places to eat in town, and a steady line-up of evening events have also made it a destination on the weekends.

    1366 York Rd., Saint Davids; 905-262-8463

  • Peller Estates Winery

    From a wide portfolio of wines, to a variety of dining experiences, the Peller Estates Winery experience is the icing on the cake when you journey into NOTL. Start by heading into the large
    tasting room, and working your way through the wine stations. The sparklers are a must; they're some of the best in the region. Also try the wines from the Signature series, which are made from small lots of grapes in very limited quantities. Then move into the dining room and grab a seat by the window overlooking the vineyard. Peller has an unparalleled reputation for putting on luxurious wine dinners so check online to see what's happening before you stop by.

    290 John St. E.; 905-468-4678