PICKS FOR WINE & BEER LOVERS
1. Many of the pioneers of Niagara winemaking still set the gold standard today. The Peller family’s origins in wine production dates back to 1927 in British Columbia; they moved their Peller Estates operations to Ontario in 1969. Inniskillin (both page 31) is the most prolific among the icewine producers, with distribution in more than 74 countries. The winery’s vidal is its most popular, though it also has riesling, cabernet franc and sparkling varieties. The Reif family’s passion for winemaking began in Germany before founder Ewald Reif moved to Canada and established roots in Niagara in 1977; Reif Estate Winery (page 31) opened six years later. 2. Strewn (page 31) is a one-stop destination for all things wine. Sample the vintages at one of two tasting bars, take a one- or two-day culinary class at the Wine Country Cooking School, or indulge in a Provençal-inspired brunch, lunch or dinner at the on-site restaurant, Terroir La Cachette. 3. It’s worth visiting Jackson-Triggs (page 31) just for its award-winning vidal icewine, but the summer-long season of live shows at its open-air amphitheatre—guitarist Jesse Cook strums on July 5, Chantal Kreviazuk croons on July 12, and Colin James performs on July 19—as well as its Savour the Sights wine-cellar dinners, really make the drive to the Niagara Peninsula worthwhile. 4. Winemakers in the region take great pride in their work. As such, some have become more selective in the types and quantities of wine they produce. The Lailey family originally grew and sold grapes for other wineries before starting to make pinot noir, chardonnay, cabernet franc and riesling under their own Lailey Vineyard (page 31) label. In the St. Davids Bench appellation, Five Rows Craft Winery of Lowrey Vineyards (361 Tanbark Rd., St. Davids, 1-905-2625113) produces small batches with much of the work done by hand. And at Rancourt Winery (1829 Concession 4, Niagara-on-the-Lake, 1-905468-2882), vintner Eric Pearson is known for his carefully crafted and hard-to-come-by malbec. 5. Weinkeller (page 29) is a craft winery and restaurant in one: tuck into a prix fixe dinner—$45 for three courses or $55 for four courses—while imbibing six house wines, including a chardonnay, pinot noir and merlot. 6. With the growing popularity of craft beer, it’s no surprise that the Niagara region is home to several breweries that are open for tours, tastings and purchases. Silversmith Brewing Company and Niagara Oast House (both page 31) brew sought-after beers, while Dillon’s Distillers (page 31) specializes in small batches of rye, rye whiskey, vodka, gin, bitters and fruit spirits.