As much as I love Toronto, I was happy with our decision to escape the bustling city for two days. We rented a car and drove out to Niagara wine country.
Jordan, a real life Stars Hollow
I was enticed by the photos and reviews online for the Inn on the Twenty in Jordan, and it was possibly the best decision we made on the trip. The boutique hotel was charming and situated on a street that could have doubled as the set for Stars Hollow. Breakfast was included in the restaurant, and the dinner we enjoyed the night prior was well done. I’d heartily recommend a stay to anyone considering a night in the area.
Perfect pickerel and fiddleheads
We also joined a wine tour so neither of us would have to worry about driving. Crush on Niagara Wine Tours offers pick-ups from area hotels, which was perfect for us. It was supposed to be a group tour, but the bonus of travelling in the off-season is that it ended up being a private tour just for the two of us!
We visited 4 larger (160 acres) and smaller (10 acres) wineries, which was a good representation for us. They all offered something interesting – Flat Rock Cellars had the best view, with their tasting room on stilts allowing a glimpse of Lake Ontario and even Downtown Toronto.
At Flat Rock Cellars
DiProfio was obviously a family-run business, and provided the best hospitality during our tasting, with generous pours.
GreenLane was the most educational, and my favourite stop, as Jane, our guide, was thorough and able to answer all of our questions about the type of grapes that thrive in cold climate viticulture (explaining why you find so many Ontario Rieslings but never any Malbecs). We had no idea the last two winters had done so much damage to the area’s wineries, some losing as much as 65% of their vines.
A revelation in discovering the difference made by aged vines
The sommelier at Vineland Estates was clearly experienced and had a fine palate, but both Mack and I were suspicious of the technology they chose to adopt. They’re the first winery in Canada who has invested $250,000 in an optical-based camera that only selects the ripest grapes for inclusion in their wine (everything else is blown off the conveyor belt, and not considered even for compost). It seemed unnecessary and wasteful, but then again, what do we know? At any rate, the tour was a great way to get a feel for some of the area’s wineries without the stress of having to navigate the wine trail on our own.
Vineland Estates, complete with two helipads
Before heading back to town, we made a pit stop at Dillon’s. The distillery is not only known for their spirits, but also for their bitters (found in Edmonton at The Silk Road and Habitat, among others). We didn’t have enough time for a full tour, but did taste some of the products not available in Alberta. I really enjoyed their Limoncello, sweeter than the traditional liqueur. But we both found their gin 22 (with 22 botanicals without a juniper-forward taste) to be the one we will pick up in the future (thankfully, available in Alberta, including Everything Wine, where we picked it up in Sherwood Park).
The very photogenic Dillon’s tasting bar
We didn’t even make it out to Niagara Falls this time but neither of us regretted that decision – there was just so much else to experience! If you’re able to schedule a day trip out to Jordan or the surrounding communities the next time you’re in Toronto, I’d highly recommend doing so.