Here are the Best Wineries in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario.
Today, we’re going to talk about wine in Ontario because Ontario does a pretty good job of making wine! Aside from Prince Edward County, THE premier wine region in Ontario is the Niagara Region, and you’ll find some of the best wineries in Niagara on the Lake.
The Niagara Region is a large area in Southwestern Ontario – geographically it’s also called the Niagara Peninsula. This area has a very unique climate and for that reason it’s known as a prime area for growing grapes. As such, there’s a variety of wineries on the Peninsula if you’re driving west towards Hamilton. Niagara on the Lake is a specific area (and also a town) situated to the east side of St. Catherines, north of the famous Niagara Falls, and exactly west of the Niagara River, which lies as the border to the United States.
Fun Fact: The area is globally recognized as a major producer of ice wine – wine made from grapes that have been left out to freeze to just the right temperature. Wineries can thank the unique climate of Ontario for allowing for the perfect conditions to produce the sweet and delicious wine!
Wineries in Niagara on the Lake
Within the Niagara on the Lake wine region, there’s huge diversity among the wineries. Some of them are smaller and cozy while others are large estates. Some have been around for decades and passed through generations while others are newly built. Some of the Niagara wineries with restaurants make a great place to visit because next to great wine you get great food, too. We mention below if the wineries we list offer food. Whichever you choose, you’re bound to have an amazing day tasting amazing Canadian wine.
If you’re looking for Niagara on the Lake winery tours, there’s a variety of organized companies in the area – and we’re going to write an entire post just about those really soon! For this post, each of the wineries we list have a variety of packages and prices for their own grounds. Be sure to click through to their websites and see for yourself the times and prices since they can change depending on the season!
It’s always a healthy argument to ask who makes the best Niagara wines, so to help you decide on your favourites, here’s our short list of the best Niagara wineries in 2018.
Peller Estates Winery & Restaurant
Peller Estates bears the name of Andrew Peller – a man credited with bringing wine-making to Ontario. This grand winery has a reputation that speaks for itself. Peller makes a point of paring great food with great wine – and guests can find a calendar full of events throughout the year. The onsite food options make Peller an easy pick – choose between dinner in the barrel cellar, fine dining in the Winery Restaurant, or out on the patio at the Barrel House Grill.
Looking to try ice wine? Peller is the place to do it. They take you into an igloo-like tasting room where you put on a parka and taste ice wine at -10 degrees Celsius. There simply is no other way. The grounds are also bike friendly in case you’re partaking on a wine tour that’s self-organized. You can find out more about booking a tour, the hours, and the events at the Peller website.
Known for producing some of the bolder reds in the area, Stratus has the sleek and modern architecture that’s sure to please the contemporary lover/wine drinker! Stratus also puts an emphasis on the sustainability of their operations and their product – with none of their wine ever being pumped between stages and barrels during the process. Stratus utilizes “gravity flow” – the wine moves entirely by gravity – and is one of only a handful of wineries in the world to do this.
With a French winemaker at the helm, Stratus is dedicated to preserving tradition while not being afraid to cross into new territory. The winery is along the main wine route and very close to the heart of Niagara on the Lake (the actual town), making this a great stop for the end of a day’s long tour. You can learn more about Stratus at their website.
Trius Winery and Restaurant
Trius Winery is another one of the pioneers in the Niagara region. Having been at it for over 30 years, it’s easy to see why! Trius prides itself in being able to provide guests with both an amazing wine experience and an amazing food experience. The facility is large, with a tasting room that emphasizes an “unrushed enjoyment”.
The wine tours are interesting and offer guests a thorough understanding of the wine-making process! If you’re into sparkling wines, Trius has the largest underground sparkling cellar in the country! To learn more about experiencing Trius, visit their website.
The Hare Wine Co.
As one of the newest wineries in the Niagara region, The Hare Wine Co. has made its presence known to the wine region! The name is derived from the Hare – a symbol for fertility and good fortune. You can find it on the massive iron gates that greet you when you arrive!
Guests rave about the amazing experience they have – from the great service they receive from the knowledgeable staff to the tasty wines they get to try and buy. The Hare is known for its well-balanced wines and ice wines. Open daily, guests don’t require an appointment for a tasting. To learn more about the Hare, you can visit their website.
Jackson Triggs Winery
This place is the powerhouse winemaker of the region. How does 47,000 square feet of wine-making goodness sound? Jackson Triggs provides guests with a true experience. Their tour is known as a “visitor education program” where you visit the vineyard and a variety of “behind the scenes” areas in the warehouses to see just how wine is made on that grand of a scale. The best part is that you get to sample wines along the way!
Their “Entourage Room” and the patio are open during the warm seasons for food samplings that pair with their wines. Tours and tastings run daily except for Christmas Day but larger groups are asked to call ahead. You can learn more about Jackson Triggs here.
Known as Canada’s original estate winery, the brand derived its name from the land on which the grapes are grown. Over 35 years later, Inniskillin stands proud as an industry leader with operations in Niagara on the Lake as well as in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. The estate itself is one of the largest in the Niagara Peninsula – so expect it to be rather busy when you arrive!
Nonetheless, you’ll get to experience their full range of Premium Estate Wines and their famous Ice Wines. Inniskillin is known for its food and wine pairing experiences. The grounds are covered in classic Muskoka chairs for you to lounge in if the weather is nice. To learn more about Inniskillin in Niagara, check out the Inniskillin website.
Reif Estates Winery
We just had to include the German winery on the list! Reif Estate was founded in 1982 by Ewald Reif, a German-born winemaker who came to Canada decades before. Today, wines are produced from the vineyard that was first planted in 1977. Over 125 acres of wine growing goodness await you when you visit Reif Estates. The Sensory Wine Bar allows for tastings that pair with chocolate – or even let you taste them blind!
They have a newly added outdoor kitchen that serves up wine gelatos and grilled pizzas as long as the weather is good! Wine-making tours and tastings run daily and come with a few samples of their delicious wines – notably, their ice wine. Overall, you’ll have an experience filled with learning about the past and the history of wine-making. Visit Reif Estates here.
Château des Charmes
Founded in 1978 by a fifth generation French winegrower, the Estate Winery model has been a core value of the Château ever since. Château des Charmes believes in sustainable practices to produce its wine. They produce more than 30 different vintages and strategically grow their grapes to produce the best results.
Guests come back again and again for the great service they experience from the staff. Public tastings and their Discovery Tours are available daily and groups should book in advance just to be safe. As one of the most stunning estates in the area, you’ll certainly have a nice outing! To learn more about the Chateau, click here.
Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery & Distillery
Wayne Gretzky is widely considered to be the greatest ice hockey player of all-time. So, we can count on “Number 99” to be “the great one” at something else in his lifetime! Not only did he co-found a winery but a successful distillery as well. Whiskey lovers – you’re in luck. The newly built grounds are gorgeous and feature state-of-the-art facilities to discover both kinds of beverages. Guests rave about how knowledgeable the staff are when they are completing their wine tastings.
They also rave about the “mixology” class where you learn about whiskey-based drinks and try them, as well! There’s an ice skating rink outside (seasonally used, of course) so you can bring your own skates or rent a pair there. All in all, you’ll have a very Canadian experience at Gretzky Estates. Tours and experiences run daily and reservations are recommended but not required. Here’s the website if you want to visit Gretzky Estates!
And there you have it – some of the best wineries in Niagara on the Lake! What do you think? Did we put together a list you can raise a glass to or did we miss one or more of your favourites? Let us know in the comments below! We’d love any excuse to check out more wineries and promote Canadian goodness!
As always, Happy Wine Waddlin’,