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Nov 15, 2009 04:59 AM

Niagara Region Wine Tour - Best for beginners

My husband and I are heading up to Niagara for a day or two and would like to try a wine tour. I would love your recommendations for a place to go that is good for beginners. I tend to like sweeter wines and we both prefer whites to reds. We would like to go to one winery for 'regular' wine and one for icewine. Let me know what your best ideas are! We also have a 1 year old who we were hoping to have with us, does any one know if this will be an issue (to have the baby with us at a wine tasting)?
I would also appreciate restaurant reccomendations for a restaurant that is good value and casual enough to bring the one year old.

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  1. I'll jump in with the restaurant rec -- Stone Road Grill. It's the worst kept secret in Niagara on the Lake -- a fabulous restaurant in a nondescript plaza. Wonderful, locally-focused cuisine and wine list. It's funky, cozy and casual, while still feeling like a special place to eat. They have a great kids menu, so they clearly welcome children.

    If you want something very casual, I would recommend Olson Foods at Ravine Estate Winery.

    Stone Road Grille
    238 Mary St, Niagara-ON-the-Lake, ON L0S, CA

    1 Reply
    1. re: TorontoJo

      You'll know when you approach Stone Road Grille when you see a sign that reads "REST". You'll get the story behind that when you go, which you should because it's truly a great place.

      Otherwise, I booked a random tasting (the Wine and Herb experience) at Rief estate winery and had a great time. I had never been to anything like this, so I cant measure by any standard.

      Stone Road Grille
      238 Mary St, Niagara-ON-the-Lake, ON L0S, CA

    2. i've found that the beamsville bench area is producing the best wines coming out of niagara region (this is from only 4-5 years of more indepth exposure to niagara) and that i've hardly had a miss with thirty bench. i've been going most recently with a friend that has a membership there but checking the website their tastings are $10 for 4 wines which is on the pricier side for a tasting but i think it's well worth it for their quality and attention. what they do is set you up at a table with your own attendent who focuses on you the entire time. they give you a list of everything they're tasting/releasing (which can amount to a dozen options easiliy) and you can pick which ones you'd like to try (this includes their premium wines/ice wines etc which one will often pay extra to taste in other places). i've had the opportunity to try older vintages vs new vintages and do comparisons that way as well. often times they'll pour an extra taste or two if you're very enthusiastic and to help round out your tasting a little better. i think you'll really enjoy the late harvest vidals (i think they're more complex than ice wines, late harvest that is) and whites they also have on offer (big fan of their chardonnays and reislings). my only complaint is that i always feel a bit of pressure at the end to purchase but it's really not that different from most other tasting rooms.

      the suggestion of stone road grille is spot on. it's the best value and most satisfying meal i've had in the niagara region. i find other places get a little too frou frou without having basic competency behind them sometimes and the prices can be astronomical. they also have a great list of local wines so if you want to try some places you haven't been to then it's a perfect opportunity.

      1. Does anyone know if there is Alsatian-type wine in this region? I ask because a wine I enjoyed very much was Pfaffenheim Tokay Pinot-Gris 2003 (we had it a few year ago). Thanks a bunch.

        1. Thanks everyone for the awesome recommendations. We had dinner at the Stone Road Grill and it was the best meal I have had in a long time. It was a truly wonderful experience. What a great place, the food, atmosphere and service left nothing to be desired. I had the Caramelized shallot and ricotta gnocchi with Chantrelle Mushrooms, Autumn Squash, Braised Greens, Sage Brown Butter Sauce everything was cooked perfectly and sauce brought the dish together to a beautiful whole. My husband had Steak and Fries and it seriously was five star dinning minus the cost. The oysters were amazing as well, and an excellent local wine list.

          We had lunch at Olson Foods, which was very good, as well, great recommendation, and we picked up The Upper Canada Cheese Company's Comfort Cream Cheese there, which was exquisite. We are definately stopping at the Upper Canada Cheese Company on our next visit.

          For wine tasting we visited Thirty Bench, Fielding, Ravine, Chateau des Charmes, Caroline, and Tawse. My favorite wine tasting experience was a Thirty Bench, my husband and I shared the tasting so we got to try eight wines and it was wonderful to see the difference between the Rieslings. I loved their 2008 Traingle Riesling, it was amazing, just like the Alsatian wine that I love. I would go back to Fielding (their sparkling Riesling is superb) and Ravine, but I think that's it. We had a nice experience at Chateau des Charmes, but all there wines are available at the LCBO so we didn't buy any there. The attendant wasn't very nice at Caroline, but we did buy some wine because some of it was half-decent and a good deal. The tour was great at Tawse and the wine was good, but I think I just like the type of wine available at Thirty Bench more and it's similar quality, in my opinion. This a place to go for a good tour of a gravity flow winery and good serous wines. They were good wines, just not to my taste.

          Thanks again for the wonderful recommendations everyone, we had a great trip!

          Stone Road Grille
          238 Mary St, Niagara-ON-the-Lake, ON L0S, CA