Speed tasting through Niagara

Summer has been a whirlwind so far. Getting engaged in California, wine tasting in the both Napa and the Niagara region, cottage weekends in the Georigan Bay Area, and a girls’ getaway to Mont-Tremblant. It’s now the beginning of August and I’m still thinking about our time a few weeks ago in Niagara-on-the-Lake and the surrounding area, even through it was more like speed dating with tons packed into just 48 hours. If speed dating could be compared to wine tasting…

I had looked at the Wine Country Ontario travel guide and highlighted a few places along the drive to our hotel to check out. Then we looked up the places we have already been to that we wanted to revisit.

We’ve done tours before to see how wine is made, and although I love those, our main goal for this very short trip was to find and try great wine that we can’t buy at LCBO or that we’ve been curious about.

One of our stops was at Vineland, as we noticed the wine options served at our wedding reception venue next year were all from this winery. We wanted to see firsthand what they had to offer. We had a great experience there from a very knowledgeable staff person (I really wish I remembered her name!), and tasted a wide variety of their wines. Among the standouts that we bought were a Pinot Meunier – think of an even lighter Pinot Noir – which our wine expert friend highly recommended for someone new to enjoying reds, such as my fiancé. It is perfect for summertime, as often reds can be less refreshing. We also bought a Cabernet Franc from their Reserve series which we will save for a special occasion. Vineland has some great presence in LCBO and Ottawa restaurants so we left knowing we would be able to find these great options once back home. And we are looking forward to drinking some at our wedding next year!

One wine we won’t find in many (if any, currently) Ottawa restaurants is from DiProfio. ‘The Kitchen Zinc’ is named for both the blend of various grapes used as well as the beautiful zinc bar you can belly up to in their tasting room. We had visited this family-owned winery last year on a tour and came back specifically to buy more of the Kitchen Zinc as well as their Gamay Rosé, which is pretty perfect with thanksgiving turkey if you ask me. Another highlight of this visit? The owner remembered me due to my red hair. I guess it pays to stand out sometimes! We really hope to see these wines on restaurant menus soon.

The other spot we took a quick stop into was recommended from Vineland. Kacaba was somewhere I had not heard of but we were not disappointed. We ended up walking away with a Pinot Noir that was so good to share with a friend visiting for dinner last weekend. It was light and fruity with a bit of a spicy note. We also purchased a Cabernet Sauvignon that we will probably save for a steak night.

To wrap up our first day (yes, this was all on our way into town!) we had dinner at Strewn. I had been looking online and read about their restaurant Terroir La Cachette. I would highly recommend the pizza here at the restaurant. They are simple, FULL of flavor, and located in a beautiful setting (although you can’t go wrong in this entire region, I’m sure). To accompany our pizzas we had some of the Strewn Two Vines Cabernet-Merlot which complemented our food well and is a great value for the price point. Also, it’s available at the LCBO!

After a very full day, it was time to relax back at our hotel and get ready for another day full of meetings for me but hopefully a few more wines to try. We were happy to have packed so much into the first day of our visit but we’re looking forward to another great day!

~JM

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