My Tour of Niagara Wineries

Wine Cellar at Henry of Pelham
By Contributor

Chris is an entrepreneur and the co-founder of Staying Native.  He enjoys riding his bike (pedal kind) and relishes opportunities to share cycling adventures with friends.  On top of that, Chris is generally up for any adventure that provides him with stories to share.  He looks forward to sharing some of those adventures with his sons as they get a little older.

Wednesday, Jun 5, 2013

A perfect  day touring through wine country.  Do you picture yourself in Bordeaux, Napa... Niagara?  Yes, Niagara. Whether you get there by car, bus, bike or segway, you´ll be glad that you did.

One day, Four Wineries...

A short drive to the southwest of Toronto  is the tight knit community of Niagara winemakers, composed of just over 70 wineries in an area of approximately 20,000 acres. I enjoy wine, but I am the farthest thing from a connoisseur. With four wineries on the itinerary - Henry of Pelham, Creekside Estate, Rosewood Estate and Peninsula Ridge Estates, there was going to be a lot to take in, and not just from a consumption perspective.   

Henry of Pelham 


History and family are integral parts of this winery.  The 3 brothers who own and run Henry of Pelham are direct descendants of Nicolas Smith, who came to the Niagara region in 1785. His son, Henry, opened the first inn on the estate property  around 1842. The very same land (though not as large as the estate once was) is now the site of the Henry of Pelham winery.  You can see a reflection of the deep family ties in their latest line called 'Sibling Rivalry'.

Creekside Estate Winery


At Creekside Estate Winery, we were welcomed by  Matt Loney and Rob Power.  Their banter started almost immediately.  It seems that the goals and needs of winemaking don't always align with those of sales and marketing.  Who knew?  Matt and Rob weren't shy about sharing some of their stories and anecdotes, to the entertainment of all.  At Creekside Estate  their slogan is 'Serious wine from an irreverent bunch' and I have to say I agree on both counts!

Rosewood Estates Winery

Niagara_Ontario_Rosewood_Estates_Winery_Bee.jpg The first thing we heard when we stopped at Rosewood Estates Winery was 'Rosewood Rocks!' - a direct quote from Sonia Vitali.  This winery is different than most, in that in addition to making wine, it is also a honey farm.  At Rosewood one can find wine, honey, candles made from bees wax and, wait for it... mead (also known as honey wine).  In keeping with the unique nature of the winery, Rosewood gives all employees a 'bee' name.  Sonia's name is 'Enerbee' and believe me, it is a rather accurate reflection of her personality. 

Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery


At Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery, we were treated to wine,  cheese  and a magnificent view of Lake Ontario,  the vineyards and Carolinian forest.  Coupled with the animated and engaging storytelling from owner Norm Beal (including the story about the blueprints for their victorian house), and we had the perfect ending to our tour of Niagara Wineries.

Wineries - Once you´ve seen one, you´ve seen them all. Right?

Nothing could be further from the truth.  The wineries themselves are quite like the wines they produce.  Each has its own unique character - no two are the same.

After spending the day with four Niagara wineries, here are my overall impressions. 

  • There is incredible diversity in the wines, and wine making approaches in Niagara. 
  • The vintners are not afraid to experiment (probably owing to the relative youth of many of the wineries) which leads to some very interesting and appealing products. 
  • The area is small, with approximately 20,000 acres available for growing grapes.  
  • The vintners respect each other, and actively work with the broader community. 
  • There is strong commitment to sharing knowledge, supporting each other, the region and the community through local food initiatives and charitable organizations. 
  • All of this is weaved into the fabric of each winery furthering enhancing the experience for any visitor wanting to 'Do it like a local' with in Niagara wine country.
  • The passionate connoisseur will find knowledgeable staff happily willing to share or engage in debates on various topics, and the casual consumer will find an opportunity to broaden their knowledge not only of wine, but of the area, history, and even local politics if they so choose! 
  • A common theme throughout was that wine is meant to be accessible and that the 'best' wine is the one that most appeals to you, the individual.

  I raise my glass to that. Cheers!


All opinions and pictures are those of the author. Staying Native  participated in this tour as part of TBEX Toronto 2013. We would like to thank our gracious hosts - Ontario Tourism, Niagara Airbus and the wineries; Henry of Pelham, Creekside Estates, Rosewood Estates and Peninsula Ridge Estates.  

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