The wineries were amazing. You can follow the link or google Niagara on the Lake to discover just how many wineries there were. Some were huge places elegantly built; Toby and I did not go in this one but others were more homey. All were very nice and professional. At each wine boutique there were servers to give you tastes of any and all wines. The servers were skilled at telling and teaching you about each wine. No one made us feel ignorant about wine – no one was a snob. Maybe they were just good salespeople, but they were all pleasant and fun. Maybe after several tastings everyone is just happy. We happened to be there during the fall wine festival, and there were lots of people on Saturday. Apparently, that was not uncommon, and lots of people spend their weekends touring the wineries, tasting, buying, attending wine classes, etc. We met people from all over Canada and lots of people from NY and the Great Lake states.
I’m not a big wine drinker. When I do drink wines, I tend toward the sweeter, white wines. After learning and tasting the different wines, I began to know a bit more about what to look for and more about what I really liked. I found that I liked my wine clean and crisp with a taste of citrus - usually whites, but I enjoyed some of the reds too. Toby said he had created a monster. Yes, I could taste the oak from the barrels. I could taste the more citrus flavor in some wines. At one point we tasted some reds and I noticed that one had a more brown color to it. The wine server was impressed and said that yes it did have a brown color – that it was aged more, oak barrels, etc. Toby rolled his eyes saying that she was just a good sales-woman. I truly know nothing about wine, but I do know something about color.
We also tasted ice wines. These grapes have been left on the vine until November when the temps have gotten down below 8 degrees for three days. Then they are picked and pressed. The bottles were small and expensive – good thing that I was not impressed with them. They were much too sweet for me. It was all great fun and a real learning experience.
You know me; I love people watching. I love old Victorian houses. I love beautiful scenery. I love visiting and talking with people. I loved the old town shopping and the beautiful flowers. This vacation was filled with things I love, and we were able to borrow bikes from our B&B and cycle around to the different wineries. We were not the only cyclists (cyclepaths :) out and about. Jesse said we looked like nerds in these photos. Happy nerds! There were a couple of places that rented bikes for the day or did special tour groups, but we were on our own.
Niagara on the Lake is also known for its theaters. They have what is called the Shaw Festival, and people come there and spend days or a week going to shows or workshops all day long. Theater is not my thang – not because I don’t love going to plays and such, but with all that outdoor beauty, who would want to be in a dark theater?
So, we learned about wines and places and people and a few other interesting facts. We did ask about having wine shipped to us, but were told that the individual wineries did not ship, but that each had to go through a distributor and to look at their websites. Although one wine server told us that she puts wine bottles in her suitcase when she flies, Toby and I did not think it was a good idea with corked bottles. We tried it with a screw-top wine bottle, and it worked fine. We were told that after 9/11 that you are no longer able to take carry-on bottles of wine. We didn’t chance that one. We were told that you could take as many bottles across from Canada to the US as you wanted, but to just be honest with the border guards, and that the USA guards were much tougher than the Canadian guards – not true. You are only allowed one bottle per person. Possibly you could pay duty on the other bottles, but our guard did not offer that option – so who knows. We were told that you could probably ship the wine from the US side – not true. Since 9/11 you are not suppose to ship any liquids anywhere. That seems a bit odd to me considering I have shipped shampoos, lotions, juice boxes, etc to my soldiers in Iraq. Whatever!
Favorite winery: Caroline Cellars
Favorite wine: Hillebrand Sauvignon Blanc or Sunnybrook burgundy plum
We also learned about grape pickers
We learned about this beauty - a Daimler, which was used to give tours. We met the driver and had an interesting discussion.
We learned that you can drink wine and still ride a bike.