Canada’s Niagara-on-the-Lake wine region offers fantastic holidays for gourmets and wine-lovers

Language: English

Main airport: Lester B. Pearson, Hamilton International Airport, Buffalo Niagara International Airport (US)

Currency: Canadian dollar

Best time to go: Spring, summer or autumn.

What to do?
First, see if your visit coincides with one of the seasonal events organized by the 28-member Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake organization. Their Days of Wine and Chocolate in February and Wine and Herb in May open the doors of each winery to “passport” holders, who receive a chocolate or hors d’oeuvre and paired wine sample. The passport booklets are available directly from the wineries, so you can pick one up along your way.

Even if you’re visiting during the off-season, you’ll be able to tour the region’s best wineries. We recommend you visit Southbrook Vineyards, a biodynamic and LEED gold-certified winery that offers tours, tastings, and a chance to meet their sheep. If you’re looking to dine with wine, try Ravine or Strewn. Ravine offers more casual fare in their recently-refurbished rustic dining room, but try to get a spot with a view of the sprawling vines out back. Strewn’s Terroir La Cachette is a fine dining experience, but you can always take a more hands-on approach with a class at their Wine Country Cooking School.

Where to stay?
For a more authentic (and affordable) experience, stay at one of the many B&Bs scattered throughout the region. Britaly Bed and Breakfast, La Toscana di Carlotta and  Wine Country Bed and Breakfast are great choices.

For a more luxurious stay, look into the Vintage Hotels family of inns, including the Pillar and Post and the Prince of Wales. Staff will be pleased to help you book dining, tours and transport.

Where to eat?
Try local charm for lunch at The Pie Plate. Situated along the main road through Virgil, this quaint bakery-cum-café uses only fresh, regional ingredients to inspire its seasonal menus. With such exquisite offerings as a blue cheese and pear pizza with walnuts and prosciutto, you may find one of your best meals at this unexpected roadside gem.

Another local favorite is the Stone Road Grille (sometimes called ‘Rest’ after the mislaid sign on its awning). With its unassuming place in a strip mall on the way into town proper, this one is unlikely to turn many heads from the outside. Inside, it’s another story. Often touted as one of Canada’s most Michelin-worthy restaurants, the Stone Road Grille pairs innovative, locally inspired cuisine with some of Niagara’s finest wine selections. Booking is essential. And don’t forget to try the maple cotton candy.

By Lindsay Burgess

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