I recently had the pleasure of spending just over a week in Ontario’s Niagara region, enjoying all the culinary spoils this beautiful part of our province has to offer. Aside from indulging in some fantastic meals, I got to re-acquaint myself with the regions wineries, including some “old” favourites (old being a very relative term in a region that has only been making serious wine since about the 1980s).
I had the pleasure of finally visiting Tawse Winery, which has been a favourite of mine for several years now. This beautiful vineyard is set on the lower slopes of the Niagara escarpment, just outside of the village of Jordan, in the Twenty Valley area, and it is one of the first vineyards in Canada to be certified Biodynamic. Learn more about this fascinating type of farming here.
[photos by Naomi Clement]
Unfortunately I didn’t have time for a full tour of their geothermic, gravity fed facility, but I did have time to taste a number of their excellent wines. Two of the standouts for me were the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from their Quarry Road vineyard. The 2009 Pinot (of which only 6008 bottles were produced) was a lovely, old-world style, medium bodied Pinot, with notes of leather, tobacco, dried cherries and white pepper. The 2010 Quarry Road vineyard Chardonnay, was a beautiful example of cool climate Chard; bright acidity, flinty back-bone, and excellent length, all backed with flavours of green apple, pineapple and quince—this is a “larger” production wine at a whopping 13500 bottles (1125 cases).
Both are excellent summer food wines and would pair perfectly with fresh summer salads, grilled pork, or a simple charcuterie plate.
I could keep going on about all the other great wines and food that I tried, but you really ought to go experience it for yourself this summer. Just an hour and a half from Toronto, it is the perfect spot for a foodie getaway (although I recommend that you avoid the weekends at all costs, and plan a mid-week stay to avoid the worst of the crowds).
My top picks for food and wine in the Niagara region:
- Treadwell Farm to Table Restaurant — try and sit on their beautiful patio.
- Stone Road Grille — don’t be fooled by its inauspicious location, and be sure to sample anything pork-based as it is raised by Chef Ryan Crawford himself.
- Ravine Vineyard Restaurant — an unbeatable setting… Monday is pizza night with fresh pizzas baked in their outdoor wood oven.
- Stratus Winery
- Tawse Winery
- Flat Rock Cellars — on a clear day you can see straight across the lake to the CN Tower.
- The Pie Plate — a great casual spot for a sandwich (and fantastic homemade strawberry lemonade).
- The Supper Market — on Wednesday evenings from 4-8pm throughout the summer, you can get a great smorgasbord supper from your pick of local restaurants and suppliers (I highly recommend the pork tacos and the fresh oysters!).