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May 30, 2007 08:46 AM

Favourite Niagara wineries to visit?

I'm planning to visit a few Niagara wineries - just for fun. Help me pick a few to go to!

Large or small - I'm looking for anything interesting... Nice architecture, nice wine-makers, great food, great wine - any attractions.

One bias is that I'm more curious about smaller independent growers than the massive Vincor ones, but I'm happy to see whatever's worth seeing.

What wineries do you recommend?
And any wines to look out for are also appreciated! (Tasting notes?)

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  1. Inniskillin: some of the whites are quite good and the wine tasting setting is quite beautiful

    30 Bench: nice restaurant attached to the winery

      1. re: bogie

        Here you go...(in no particular order, but each delivering on many if not all levels of great wines, service, design and architecture, tutored tastings, vineyard views and quality)

        Thirty Bench, Malivoire, Flat Rock, Hidden Bench, Tawse, Daniel Lenko (you will be visiting Niagara's renegade his kitchen at home!), Cave Spring, Henry of Pelham, Peninsula Ridge, Chateau des Charmes, Ridgepoint (Niagara's first Nebbiolo @ $40 a pop), Stratus, Le Clos Jordanne, Creekside and Thirteenth Street.

        All my favourite places to visit.

        1. re: The Macallan 18

          Any recommendations on where to stay... and I actually do intend this as a foodie questions. Are there any Niagara inns or boutique hotels where you can have a decent or even good dinner after a day or wine touring (and then just waddle back to your room)?

          1. re: Rabbit

            I'd say Inn on the Twenty and its restaurant which is facing the Cave Spring store in Vineland.

            1. re: Campofiorin

              I'm exceedingly sorry to dissent from this suggestion, but I just wanted to say that I unfortunately disagree here. I've had two horrible meals in wine country - both at Inn On The Twenty. Since the Olsen's left (ironically), the restaurant hasn't been the same (which is for years now). In fact, I'd go so far to say it's laughable (at least based on my two visits). The second visit, btw, was a comped business meeting that I was forced to attend.

              1. re: pixelchef

                From my experience, I can't say I agree with you, but I have heard similar reviews.

                Rabbit, even if you choose not to eat at On the Twenty, you may wish to stay at the Inn. It's quite nice... in Jordan, in-house spa, etc. It's only five minutes (drive) from Vineland Estates which I hear has an excellent restaurant. I prefer this area of Niagara to the much too busy Niagara on the Lake.

      2. I've heard that Hillebrand has an incredible restaurant - they actually employ a "forager" to go looking for produce etc.
        But it seems the restaurant is closed for renovations! Does anyone know anything about this?

        3 Replies
        1. re: bellywizard

          Hillebrand's restaurant is good, to be sure. As is Peller Estates. Penninsula Ridge has a nice restaurant as well, as does Vineland Estates.

          1. re: bellywizard

            The executive Chef at Hillebrand is Frank Dodd - very good.

            They are indeed renovating, on a fairly large scale. I was there on the weekend and was told that everything should be up by the 5th of July. They are putting a lot of work into it and it should be quite nice once complete.

            wrt to the original question my personal favourite vineyard is Malivoire, although they don't do tours or have a restaurant. The location is very relaxing and the wines excellent.

            1. re: bellywizard

              The restaurant is open. We just booked a reservation for next weekend.

            2. Some of my favourites are Strewn with it's restaurant Terroir La Cachette. Vineland Estates also has a fabulous resto. East Dell has a nice patio overlooking their vines, and a great summer rose. I'll second Daniel Lenko, if you make an appointment you'll likely be welcomed by his mum and a still warm slice of her amazing apple pie. Then stop by Kacaba right next door to Lenko, their Meritages are always good. I always hit Marynissen Estates when I'm in Niagara, they have huge reds that age really well are generally really great value.

              Have a great trip.

              2 Replies
              1. re: karose

                I was planning on visiting Daniel Lenko in the coming weeks and I know I have to make an appointment. Would you happen to know if they take credit cards as I want to buy wine but don't want to carry a pile of cash along.

                1. re: karose

                  Sadly, Daniel Lenko's mom passed away this winter. The winery is open on the weekends during the summer, but I believe you need an appointment during the week.

                  We had a very good meal at Peninsula Ridge recently. The Jordan House now has "lodging" available. It is run by the same people as Inn On The Twenty.

                2. I've eaten lunch @ Hillebrand awhile back and had a great meal (all 4 of us agreed). Not sure if they still have the same chef.

                  My wife and I also had a small post-wedding party at Vineland (in their little chapel), very nice views of the vineyards. It was higher end party food, well done (esp the chocolate souffle). We first went there in June when it was around 5pm, they had just closed, but there was so much fog in the area that it was quite magical.

                  Here's a few photos of the winery Vineland: