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The Wine-Country Experience

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Mississauga, Canada
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The Wine-Country Experience

Hello!

I'm looking for some good tips from people who have done the winery thing in the Niagara region. I'm very excited & I'll be heading there on Monday, July 9th for a full day.

First, I don't know exactly how many wineries to plan for in one day. I'm thinking maybe three to six? Is that a good number to plan on?

I want to begin with a guided tour of one of the larger wineries to get a good grounding in how wine is made. Next I really want to take part in a tutored tasting. I'm thinking of starting with the Hillebrand Estates Winery since I've heard that they offer several educational seminars daily. The essence seminar has been highly recommended to me. Would anyone agree with this or recommend the Hillebrand winery as a starting point?

What time should we start touring at? Someone told me that it's smart to start in the morning for undivided attention and to avoid the crowds, we were thinking of starting when Hillebrand opens. Good plan?

Now I need some help planning out where to go after we do Hillebrand. I want a balance between the big guns and the mom-and-pop operations, the sophisticated estates and the barnyard tasting rooms. And we want to have at least one meal in a winery restaurant.

Todd is very interested in having our meal at Inniskillin. Has anyone eaten there? Tips/recommendations? He also wants to tour Maryinessen at some point that day. Would anyone have a suggestion of a route of wineries to follow that day that would begin at Hillebrand, include Maryinessen & Inniskillin (if recommended) that would end in Niagara on the Lake for dinner.

Also, Todd is the designated driver so he won't be able to sample wines, right? Or are a couple of samples okay when driving?

Thanks everyone!

London, Canada
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1. Re: The Wine-Country Experience

It sounds as if you have a very good idea already about what you might like which is great. This is a little information I gave in a past thread which might help....you can look at the wine route map if you haven't accessed one yet online:

<<Good to know you've already read through much of the information here and have a little bit of an itinerary. While you can pick up these wine route maps along the way, with only an afternoon it's probably wise to peruse the map first, and decide on a route best suited to you. I hope one of these maps works for you.

http://www.niagaraonthelake.com/Falldrives/

http://winesofontario.org/PDFs/winemap.pdf

My advice is usually to try some of the smaller wineries for more personal attention, but some people would rather visit a large winery simply for the selection. Peller has some interesting wines, and I particularly like their cabernet franc icewine for something different. Stratus and Jackson Triggs are next door to one another and offer a completely different experiences with Stratus being more of a boutique winery. For an every day red, try Jackson Triggs Meritage.

If you've read through the posts on Niagara you already know we like the restaurants at Strewn, Vineland Estates, Peninsula Ridge and Angel's Gate....as well as Peller. So sometimes planning a stop at a winery for a cheese plate (Vineland) or bite of lunch is a good way to work around an itinerary for visiting the wineries. You can do the drive through the Twenty Valley area easily from Niagara on the Lake via the backroads and then get onto the QEW to head back to Niagara Falls (if that is where you are staying the second night). >>

Starting late morning is a very good idea and will allow you lots of time for tasting and driving. I'm not aware of Inniskilin having a restaurant, but rather hosting a number of private events and dinners much like Jackson Triggs. I may be wrong, but you can call to inquire. There are some past posts here as well with interesting observations about some of the wineries:

<<Posted on: 6:54 am, April 21, 2006

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There are several fun and unpretensious wineries to visit here is a list

Strewn- just north of old town NOTL, smaller great restaurent for lunch, very good for novice wino's, lovelyMerlot's.

Rief- just south of old town, small family run, usues kegs to ferment wines, very down to earth, fun place.

Henry of Pelham- Larger but very down to earth, great Baco Noire, family owned and operated, they talk with you not at you.

Malavoire- the coolest winery you will ever see, straight out of " Event Horizon" yummy Gamay

Chateau des Charmes- Chateau style winery, lovely grounds, Incredible Brut, method traditionel, (bubbly), be yourself and so will they.

Konzelmann- simple European style winery, great whites lovely pinot Noire.

Penninsula Ridge- my personal fave- awesome wines, coolest barrel cellar in Niagara, beautiful grounds and overall setup, very Canadian visually. Make it a point to reserve a wine pairing dinner, a bit pricey but worth every cent.

Just remember to be yourself, these people love answering all types of questions and there is no such thing as a stupid question, believe me I have asked many of them. Hav fun and relax, your interest and questions keeps them in business.

Cheers

Bill>>>>

Have a look at some of them if you don't get many responses here.

Samples are okay when driving, plan lunch before more tastings, and you should be fine......Todd can also taste without actually drinking if he prefers. I've noticed that's fairly common.

Have fun with the plans!

Mississauga, Canada
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2. Re: The Wine-Country Experience

Thanks again, Tobie!

Turns out, you were absolutely right about Inniskillin not having a restaurant and just having special meals. Great to know! So I still need to figure out the best bet for lunch/dinner. Maybe I'll check out the individual websites of the wineries. You've given me lots of great tips. Thank you!

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