wine 1Pondview Estate Winery

Get off the beaten path to the quiet country roads of Niagara where you will find hidden gems nestled amid lush green vineyards, where you can relax with a crisp VQA wine.

The alluring romance of the winery is a unique experience. Far from the bustle of a busy urban life and removed from your traditional tourist hubs, a wine country vacation - even if only for a day trip - is truly a quaint escape to a place where the people are friendly and the wine is exquisite.

“To visit wine country is to surround yourself with charm and beauty,” says Marcel Morgenstern, a sommelier from Pondview Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. “From the wine to the people to the vistas, there is so much to enjoy. But making these memories doesn’t happen by accident. Taking care of the little details before you hit the tasting bars will make your trip that much better.”

Between Ontario’s four viticulture areas —Niagara-on-the-Lake, Beamsville Bench, Prince Edward County and Lake Erie North Shore — there is a different experience awaiting you every time you hit the road for wine country.

wine 2Pondview Estate Winery

But no matter where you are headed, Marcel offers the following tips to get the most of your escape:

  • Know where you are going: Wine Country Ontario publishes a Wine Route map annually, which is available online. You don’t need a firm schedule and itinerary, but it will help you choose the best route for the wineries you want to visit. Plan to hit three to five in a day. Also plan to do more than just sample wines at least one of your chosen spots — call ahead to book a tour of the facility to see how your favourite wines are made.
  • Seek a local menu: Wine tasting can work up an appetite. Ask winery staff for their recommendations of local eateries that specialize in local foods on chef-prepared menus. Your taste buds will thank you.
  • Be adventurous: Wine samples are a great opportunity to go beyond your comfort zone and try something new. Keep notes and compare the differences in varietals from winery to winery, ask questions about the appellation and terroir to expand your knowledge of wines and what influences their flavours and bouquets.
  • Prepare for your purchases: You don’t want your purchases cooking in your car during the summer months, or freezing in the winter. A cooler or box will give you a place to stow your purchases and keep them from rolling around in your trunk. If you are staying overnight in a local hotel, the cooler will allow you to chill your bottles so you can enjoy some from the comfort of your room.
  • Be aware of the local calendar: Check out local festivals or events that wineries are offering and take advantage of them to add another dimension to your trip.  Also, double check winery hours to ensure they are open when you plan to be in the area.

“No two wine tours are ever the same,” adds Marcel. “Every vintage is different, and every season brings with it something new to discover and experience.”