There’s never been a better time to be a wine lover in Ontario. The elegant and fresh flavours of cool climate wines are making huge waves in connoisseur circles worldwide, and Ontario’s unique appellations, distinct terroir and innovative winemakers are putting local wines on the map.
Photo credit: Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery
Rosé Is Here To Stay
Is it too risqué to mention rosé in September? You’ve heard rosé all day; we say rosé year-round. Rosé has become a fixture on patio tables and picnic blankets, but this cheerful blush is shedding its summer-specific reputation and fast becoming a favourite for any season.
Everything’s coming up rosé from Pelee Island Winery’s Pelee Pink to Trius Rosé (along with their rosé selfie installation), Malivoire’s Ladybug, Peninsula Ridge’s Beal Vineyard Cabernet Rosé and the Locust Lane Rosé at Hidden Bench in the Niagara region, to the Legacy Rosé at Adamo Estate Winery in Caledon.
Make it a rosé getaway: A visit to Niagara’s Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, a rustic, fifth generation family-run winery in St. David, is an adventure in winemaking, as well as in culinary excellence, bee keeping, organic gardening, craft canning and more. You can’t go wrong with the winemaker’s menu pairings at the onsite restaurant, including their dry and refreshing rosé which pairs exceptionally well with garden-fresh salads. If you love it as much as we do, pick up a bottle to enjoy in your suite at Woodbourne Inn, a stylish country inn only a five-minute walk from the winery.
Ontario’s Bubbly Rises To The Occasion
Special moments require a special toast, and Ontario’s sparkling wines are popping. Southern Ontario’s limestone-rich soil and diverse climate is a similar terroir to northern France’s Champagne region. Innovative winemakers have capitalized on this, using charmat or tank method ageing (similar to what’s used for Prosecco), they’re producing top-notch bubbly – from Colio Estate Winery and North 42 Degrees in Ontario’s southernmost region along Lake Erie to Niagara’s 13th Street Winery, Cave Spring and Henry of Pelham, and further east in Prince Edward County at Closson Chase, Rosehall Run Vineyards and Huff Estates.
Make it a sparkling getaway: Housed in a former dairy barn just outside Hillier in Prince Edward, Hinterland Wine Company has been perfecting its celebrated sparkling wines since 2007. Sample Whitecap Method Charmat, the perennial bestseller or the recently disgorged Les Etoiles Method Traditional. BYOB to Sand and Pearl Oyster Bar (open until Oct 6), located on County Road 12 towards Sandbanks Provincial Park. A glass of bubbly is the perfect complement to freshly shucked oysters, wild Fogo Island snow crab, Manitoulin Island Smoked Trout or a warm Seafood Chowder on a brisk fall day. A new addition to the artsy and eclectic Drake empire, Drake Motor Inn offers a boutique twist to the classic roadside motel. With digital self check-in, pet-friendly rooms and a 24-hour vending machine with quirky snacks, it’s the perfect launch pad to create your toast-worthy moments.
Fruit & Floral Driven
There is a growing appetite for unique fruit or floral-infused blends that reflect Ontario’s rich variety of local flavours and innovation. Take your love of all things lavender to the next level with Lavender Ice, a lavender-infused dessert wine from Bonnieheath Estate in Norfolk County or sample the bold, fruity favour of blueberry wine from Algoma Highlands Blueberry Farm and Winery near Wawa.
Make it a fruity getaway: Set your GPS to Ontario’s beloved cottage country, specifically to Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery in Bala to experience the perfect balance of tart and sweet in a glass of cranberry wine. We recommend pairing it with dark, milk or white chocolate covered berries. Time your visit to coincide with the annual Bala Cranberry Festival on the weekend after Thanksgiving for activities, entertainment and everything cranberry. Stay nearby at Rawley Resort, an exclusive waterfront escape in Port Severn, where sipping cranberry wine goes well with a glorious fall sunset over Georgian Bay.
Image credit: Southbrook Vineyards
Orange Is The Happiest Colour
Match Ontario’s most colourful season with a glass of liquid sunshine. Named for its rich golden hue, Orange wine is not actually made from oranges, but rather white grapes that are treated like red grapes during the vinification process. Orange wine (or skin fermented whites) is an ancient technique of winemaking, but its comeback is gaining momentum. Among the small batch craft wines from Trail Estate Winery in Hillier, Prince Edward County are a few creative blends of orange wine.
Make it an orange getaway: Head to Southbrook Vineyards, Canada’s first biodynamic winery just outside Niagara-on-the-Lake, for a bottle of Estate Orange Wine. This distinct herbal and earthy flavoured wine pairs well with autumn favourites like bitter greens, squash, charcuterie, cheese and olives. Stay for their gourmet wood-fired pizza served outdoor on the weekends (weather permitting). Make your next stop for pie! Snag homemade goodness from The Pie Plate Café and Bakery, just minutes down the road in Virgil. Follow Niagara Stone Road into historic Niagara-on-the-Lake to the 124 on Queen Hotel and Spa. With a range of deluxe rooms and villas, there’s plenty of comfy nooks next to a warm fire or on a private patio to settle in and enjoy a glass of wine and a succulent slice of pie.
Go Green With Vegan
Traditionally, animal byproducts such as milk, eggs, gelatin and beeswax were used to refine, clarify and bottle wine. But the growing demand for vegan-friendly winemaking processes and ingredients have resulted in alternative methods, like using clay filtering. Many wineries have adopted vegan or eco-forward practices, like off-grid Redtail Vineyards Consecon, in eco-minded Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards in Harrow and Frogpond Farm Organic Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
Make it a vegan getaway: Trendsetter Karlo Estates Winery is the first fully certified vegan winery in the world! Located just north of Wellington among a cluster of other gorgeous Prince Edward Country wineries and vineyards, Karlo is 100% worth a stop to pick up a bottle of its animal-friendly, award-winning Chardonnay or VanAlstine Red. Good Place is Wellington’s natural and health food grocer, juice bar and lunch counter. Select from fresh, vegan soups and grab-n-go wraps and super salads for a leisurely garden picnic at The Edward Bed and Breakfast, just north of Picton. Surrounded by 75 acres of nature, you’ll be treated to a healthy dose of fresh air and wholesome living.
Image credit: Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery
Tall On Taste, Short On Alcohol
On average, most wines contain between 11 and 13% ABV (alcohol by volume), although white wines (including cool climate varietals) may be slightly lighter. Drinking in moderation is always in style and discovering wines low in alcohol without compromising on flavour is a win-win. The voluptuous Riesling at The Good Earth Food & Wine Co in Niagara clocks in at 10.6%, while the crisp Semi-Dry Riesling at Sue-Ann Staff Winery is only 10%.
Make it a tasty getaway: Along the north shore of Lake Erie, Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery in Harrow creates a refreshingly light Riesling Sparkler with just 9.5% alcohol. Reward your palate with fresh, seasonal fruit like raspberries, apples and pears from Lee & Maria’s Market in Kingsville. You can also stock up on artisan cheeses and meats to create your own charcuterie plate. Stay at The Grove Hotel & Brewery in downtown Kingsville. Originally built in 1860, this renovated boutique hotel has been redesigned with just the right blend of hip and historic.
Learn more about Ontario’s established and emerging wine regions and delightful vineyard vacation getaways. Cheers!