The Vineyards At Niagara-on-the-Lake
Inside the Canadian heartland of the Ontario province you will find a small Victorian town surrounded by miles and miles of vineyards. Only two hours away of the busy Toronto metropolis, and a thirty minute drive from the world-renown Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake offers a great foodie getaway.
The wine region surrounds the Niagara peninsula and offers unusual warm temperatures allowing the vines to survive the harsh Canadian winters.
The picturesque Victorian town bustles around the main commercial street, Queen Street. It has small shops offering local products like jams and gelati. There is even an apothecary which has recipes dating back from the 19th century. The town borders the beautiful waterfront of the Lake Ontario, one of the five great lakes between Canada and the U.S. The best place to admire the lake and enjoy a little walk while catching the sunset is the Queen's Royal Park.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is also known for the Shaw Festival, it is the second largest repertory theater company in North America. Its successes range from the classical drama to modern comedy. For those interested in history, not very far away from downtown, you will find Fort George, a historic site where Upper Canada set a military post against the Americans in the 19th century.
Prince of Wales Hotel Review
The town, luckily, does not have huge hotel chains, which helps keep its Victorian charm. However, there is one hotel chain, Vintage hotels, that owns no less than 6 hotels in the town. Most of them are in historic buildings and have a very English colonial feel. I stayed in Prince of Wales which is in the heart of downtown, right by Queen street.
The high-end hotel captures the elegance and the refinement of the Victorian era. Prince of Wales has received, through the years, multiple awards by world renown travel magazines like Condé Nast and Travel & Leisure for their accommodations and their restaurants. Every wall is decorated with portraits of the English monarchy and of historical events. The building spa has also been awarded several times. I suggest looking at the different packages to find the one most suitable for you. However, the relaxing saltwater pool is not to be missed after all the wine tasting. Since it is part of a chain of hotel, it is interconnected with the other establishments, so you can go to a restaurant or a spa of another hotel, for example.
If you are visiting for a special occasion, like an anniversary, the hotel will offer complementary roses, chocolate and fruits to make your experience an unforgettable one.
The Prince of Wales also offers world-class restaurants. For dinner, splurge yourself in this fine-dining experience of The Noble Restaurant. The Drawing Room offers an afternoon tea in the very English tradition with high-end teas served in ornately decorated sets with tasty scones, delicious higher sandwiches and pastries.
I highly recommend going to the restaurant Tiara of the Hotel Queen's Landing (part of the same network of hotels) for a tasty brunch overlooking the marine. The eggs Benedict with snow crab were delicious! For a complete list of where to eat like a foodie, head here!
After relaxing and splurging yourself in the hotel and its restaurants, you should go out for some wine tasting. The Niagara Peninsula has more than forty wineries spread through Niagara-on-the-Lake and Beamsville. From mainstream estates to very small family owned vineyards and organic farms, this gives plenty options to choose from. All the tastings range from $8 to $12, some offer cheese pairing as well.
This award-winning winery is 100% organic and bio-dynamic. They have sheep and chickens to encourage biodiversity and to fertilize the vineyard. The bright and airy tasting room has a beautiful view of the vines and has several local products that will perfectly pair with your wine.
The name and the label might turn you away, I know I was. However, we were happily surprised by the wine. The quality is a step-up compared the other wineries of the region. They do offer several events through the year so be sure to check-out their website so you don't miss out.
By far the most beautiful vineyard. Perched on a hill, the tasting room gives you a beautiful view of the lush green wines and the lake. Enjoy your tasting sitting on the balcony while enjoying the view. On a clear day you can see the skyline of Toronto on the other side of the lake. You need to try their sparkling rosé! These bubbles are one of a kind.
Trius is the winery for the champagne lovers. I highly suggest having the sparkling experience tasting.
Malivoire, if you are a fan of full-bodied wine, then you will enjoy their Meritage & Gamay selection.
The Ravine Winery has been open for more than 150 years, as old as Canada. The tradition of making quality products has propagated through the wine, their farm and their cuisine. The restaurant is not to be missed with its wooden pillars and roof giving the feeling that you are dining in an antique farm. The menu changes regularly as it only serves ingredients from their vegetable garden and farm.
The most difficult choice that you will have to make during your stay in Niagara-on-the-Lake will be trying to decide which bottles of wines you will bring home.