Niagara-on-the-Lake has been a place I have always wanted to explore, but sadly it was always put on my ‘back-burner’ as my love affair for international travel grew.
Now that I have a home base here in Ontario, I am able to explore places close to home that I typically would have cast aside in favour of more exotic destinations.
After a few days exploring the falls and wineries, I must admit I was ‘Fallin’ for Niagara Falls.
The infamous Niagara Falls and quaint vineyards of Niagara-on-the-Lake have become large tourist destinations for Canadians and Americans alike since they are centrally situated within the province of Ontario and conveniently located 15 minutes from the New York border.
Niagara has also become a global destination, known all over the world for the falls (which are cited as one of the great wonders of the world) and more recently for their world-renowned wineries (such as Pellar Estates and Jackson-Triggs).
Here are some reasons Niagara-on-the-Lake might just be one of the best wine regions around:
With a plentiful array of wineries to choose from, all settled on stunning, whimsical backdrops, naturally the Niagara region serves as an obvious choice for a weekend get-a-way.
According to the Ontario Wine Authority, there were 84 wineries to choose from in 2015, ranging from award winning elegant estates such as Inniskillin wines, to more quaint and small family-owned vineyards such as Hinterbrook or Rancourt. All wines are made with 100% Ontario grown grapes, so you are sure to get a taste of authentic regional wine.
It has history:
For instance, did you know that Niagara-on-the-Lake was once the capital of Ontario before the war of 1812? At this time Great Britain and Canada were at war with the USA. When news came that American troops would attack Niagara-on-the-Lake, the capital was moved to Toronto where it’s remained ever since. The area is too beautiful to ever picture once being a battle field!
It has the perfect climate:
What makes Niagara-on-the-Lake such a successful wine region is that it has the perfect climate for wine production: fertile soil, warm summers and cold winters culminate to create a region that harvests versatile grapes for varieties such as Riesling, Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon. More unique to the region are flavourful fruit wines (such as Konzlemann’s delicious peach wine) and the delectable ice wines.
It is a top producer of Ice Wine:
Canada is the world’s largest producer of ice wine (dessert wine), likely due to its frigid temperature requirements for production. Niagara’s lakeside location endures what residents know as the ‘lake effect’: cool winds blowing off of the lake to produce variable weather. This works in the wine maker’s favour: Ice wine requires a -10 degree Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature for harvest, which is typically done during the coldest part of a winter night.
This is because the grapes need to be frozen just right, so they can be pressed and the juice and sugar can be extracted, leaving the frozen skins behind. But let’s be honest, Canadian winters can get WAY colder than that, which could ruin the grapes; if they are too frozen and hard, no juice can be extracted at all.
Enter: giant wind turbines. Those massive fans apparently work to push warm air from above downwards, warming up the ground temperature to essentially incubate the grapes at optimal temperature.
All in all, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a stunning destination for wine connoisseurs and wine lovers alike, or those who just simply want to bask in sunshine while enjoying lakeside beauty.
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