The vineyards of Niagara wine country are an annual destination for us, set to complement our wedding anniversary in September. I'm pretty sure that out of 42 such celebrations there have been at least 30 drives over the Burlington Skyway through Stoney Creek and on to Beamsville, Vineland, and Jordan Station, then over the Welland Canal and into Niagara-on-the-Lake (NOTL).
|image courtesy of VQA Ontario|
We always take up residence in NOTL - because there is more than just wine in wine country. There is the Shaw Festival. When not seeing plays, we set off on a wine tasting and buying tours.
It used to be a very simple itinerary, one that did not require much planning at all, but in forty+ years wine has come of age in Niagara and the list of wineries is nothing short of eye-crossing.
Over 100 great and small wineries offer up the classic cool-climate varieties such as Riesling, Chardonnay, Gamay Noir, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc flourish here, and the region now boasts over 46 thriving varietals.
|Angels Gate Winery|
So this annual pilgrimage takes some planning, about a week of planning. I research wine awards and wineries. I inventory our wine cellar to see what we need, and I review the tasting notes I've made (if we hated it, I'm not buying that wine again and if we loved it, I want more). All of this research comes with me and I take my papers with me into every winery we visit; not so much as to impress the staff as to signal that I am seriously interested in more than just sampling some wine - I'm there to buy.
|Big Head Wines|
I do not profess to have wine connoisseur's palate or experience. I'm often at a total loss as to how to describe the kaleidoscope of flavours I taste in a wine and I've never experienced the length and breadth of elements extolled by the winemaker. There is great rejoicing when I discover that the winemaker and I agree on just a single note. In other words, I am an amateur, albeit an organized one.
Winemakers can always be counted on to make the best of any year, come wind, come weather.
I can smell the grapes and hear the cannon shots that keep the birds away.
And did I mention the food?? Ah well, that's pretty special too!
It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it!
©2018 April Hoeller