Simple rules for a great journey through wine country
Book accommodations ahead
It’s a good idea to reserve a place to stay in advance of your trip, especially in the summer. If you’re travelling to the Niagara Peninsula, which has over 40 wineries, consider breaking up your visit with an overnight stay.
Look for special events
There are plenty of events around which you might plan your trip. There are music festivals, live theatre and much more. This site has a complete listing of all Regional events in the calendar section. Also keep an eye out for special winery events which can include food and wine tastings, cooking classes, and educational seminars. Often, space is limited and must be booked ahead of time.
Try a Tour Package
There’s so much going on in wine country, you might want to try a pre-packaged tour to be sure you’re hitting all the hotspots. For
example, The Shaw Festival offers some spectacular wine country getaways. For more information on the dozens of available packages contact the individual wineries, hotels, inns, B&Bs, cooking schools and tour companies listed.
Bring a cooler
You’ll need a good place to store any wines you might buy. Many small wineries do not distribute their wines at the LCBO (due to limited production) so it’s a good idea to buy a few bottles at the winery boutique. A cooler helps keep wines cool on a hot day.
You can realistically expect to visit 4 or 5 wineries in a day.
Designate a driver
You’ll be sampling some excellent wines throughout the day, so be sure to pick a designated driver. You may prefer to contact a tour company and spend the day with an expert guide who will take you to several wineries. In Niagara-on-the-Lake a step-on-step-off service is available and several wineries
provide shuttle buses.
Mix it up
Try to visit both large and small wineries. Cottage wineries offer an intimate experience and insight into the workings of a family estate. You’ll also get to taste premium VQA wines that are only available at the winery.
Don’t wear perfumes or chew gum
You need to be able to smell and taste the wine without interference. Most wineries even provide bread and water to help cleanse your palate between tastings.
Spit it out, we don’t mind
If you’re visiting several wineries feel free to pace yourself and spit or dump out the wine you’re tasting into the buckets provided. Ontario Law limits you to four 1-oz. samples of wine per tasting.
Have a bite!
Try to stop for a quick bite between each winery visit at a winery restaurant or café along the way.
Ask lots of questions
This is the most important piece of advice you’ll get. The winery staff is extremely knowledgeable about their products and wines in general. Ask about ageability and food and wine pairings.
(Courtesy of VQA Wines of Ontario and Wine Country Ontario)