There are many, many sides to Niagara.
First, there’s the Falls and all the touristy attractions on Clifton Hill. Then there’s the “more refined” side by Niagara-on-the-lake, which consists of all the different vineyards, wineries, and boutique food shops. I did a roadtrip to Niagara this past weekend, and thought I would share my top picks in this region (as the number of options in this area can be a bit overwhelming).
Konzelmann Estate Winery: I would highly recommend doing a tour at this vineyard; we were also able to find a Groupon for an intimate winery tour with tasting for about $7 each. The guide was incredibly knowledgeable at explaining the entire wine process and answering any questions. The tasting in the winery’s cellar was also quite elaborate, serving a complimentary assortment of cheese & meats, and featured many different wines from the estate. I recommend trying Konzelmann’s peach white wine, which is made with peaches from local farms in Niagara.
Small Talks Vineyard is mostly popularly known for its Shiny Apple Cider. Tastings here are fairly inexpensive, and there are many discount packages available online as well. I highly recommend trying the Shiny Bootleg Spice Cider, which has a nice spice kick to the typical cider taste, as well as the Dessert Anyone Riesling Icewine.
Trius Winery: This vineyard is so beautiful and grand, and its shop offers affordable tastings of many different wines. My favourite was the Showcase Cabernet Franc Icewine 2015, which carries a strong bold flavor that contrasts nicely with the sweet icewine. However, at its $90 price point, I got the Late Harvest Vidal Icewine 2015 for $22 (which still tastes incredible!) Pro tip – if you eat at the Trius restaurant, use the receipt to get a $5 discount on any purchase in-store.
Trius wines brunch: The three-course brunch at this beautiful restaurant at Trius Wines in Niagara is a bit on the pricier side ($42) but well worth the value for the quality and quantity. As a pro tip, inform your waiter if you are visiting to celebrate a special occasion, as everyone at the table will receive a complimentary full glass of sparkling white wine!
For starters, I got the fresh Ontario mozzarella with cured prosciutto, red wine pear, and organic arugula. The cheese was so fresh, and tasted incredible when paired with the sweet pear and salty cured meat.
For my main, I got the Atlantic lobster cakes served with icewine smoked salmon, poached hens eggs, and icewine beets. The lobster meat was so tender and flavourful, and it complemented the strong taste of the smoked salmon and creamy egg yolk perfectly.
For dessert, I got the Icewine pear, served with a caramel, chocolate, and cheese cake bar. The icewine pear was divine, soaked in the sweet boozy taste of Niagara’s famous icewine, and it contrasted nicely with the nutty caramel taste of the cheese cake bar.
Koutouki Niagara: This Greek restaurant near Clifton Hill is quite homey, and is perfect for ordering sharing plates for large format dinners. I would recommend trying the chicken souvlaki, which was incredibly tender and juicy, as well as the combination spread platter to try the restaurant’s assortment of Greek-style dips.
Winter Festival of Lights: The holiday lights at Niagara are beautiful (even when it’s raining), so I highly recommend driving through to take a look.
Clifton hill fun pack: Glow-in-the dark mini put is actually a lot of fun, as are the other activities here like the laser maze and the canon ball shoot (even for a couple of twenty-year-old’s).
Butterfly conservatory: This Niagara Parks Botanical Garden features over 2,000 butterflies, made up of 45 different species, that may flutter up to visitors (perfect for photo opportunities!)