During a recent visit to my sister in Toronto, we spent a couple of days exploring the Niagara Region. The only thing we really planned was overnight at the Prince of Wales Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which was offering a great deal for an upgraded room and dinner for two.
Although the drive is on the 403 freeway, it’s quite an interesting drive, at least once you’re past Burlington, with Lake Ontario on your left. Once you’re within the Niagara Regional Municipality you’ll see all sorts of signs for wineries and it’s best to leave the highway for the backroads.
Before we went we saw self-drive wine tasting tours offered online (e.g., $20 to taste at 3 wineries). Not wanting to commit, and having viewed wineries before, we decided to just see where we ended up. Turns out that there are loads of wineries, some are affiliated (e.g., in the same valley) and offer maps and free tastings, and even if they charge it’s free if you buy a bottle or two. The most they seemed to charge is $2 a taste. Tasting the wines was fun and made a change from the Okanagan wines we’re more used to in Calgary. Many of the wineries offer other goodies, including local cheese.
Once you’ve tasted your fill, there are other delights: we hit pay-dirt in the small town of Jordan, with a lovely casual café as well as a fancier restaurant, an antique store with great prices (even including Ontario HST!) and an art gallery co-owned by a friend of a friend. Walking around Niagara-on-the-Lake (and trying to avoid the crowds) is also fun with lots of nice, browseable shops.
I have to admit that late May in southern Ontario is quite lovely: warm weather without humidity; they don’t even understand the concept of late snow falls, let alone Monsoon June!
Check out some of these great titles for touring the Niagara region!