While the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario, Canada, attracts thousands of visitors a year to see the beauty of Niagara Falls and picturesque countryside, the region also has a thriving wine industry. Tucked away between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, the Niagara Falls area boasts a number of wineries that take advantage of the cool climate and the great soil to produce a diverse assortment of wines.
The following are two of the best wineries near Niagara Falls.
Hidden Bench Estate Winery
Located in Beamsville, Hidden Bench Estate Winery makes wine exclusively from grapes grown on its certified organic vineyards in the fertile Beamsville Bench VQA sub-appellation. The winery’s approach centers on non-intervention during the winemaking process, and the result is a selection of outstanding wines that represent the rich terroir of the region.
Hidden Bench Estate Winery especially excels at making white wines and has won a number of awards in this category. In 2018, the winery’s Felseck Chardonnay won the Platinum Medal at the National Wine Awards of Canada and received 93 points from noted wine critic Michael Godel. This wine features baked apple aromas and flavors of lemon custard, nutmeg, and baked apple pie.
Another award-winning white wine from Hidden Bench is the 2015 Tête de Cuvée Chardonnay, which won the Gold Medal at the 2018 National Wine Awards of Canada. With aromas of dried pineapple and ripe apricot, this wine finishes with tropical fruit and pineapple flavors. Hidden Bench also took home the Gold Medal at the 2018 National Wine Awards of Canada for its Nuit Blanche. This white wine has passion fruit and mango aromas and a tropical fruit finish.
Hidden Bench also produces some excellent red wines, including the Estate Pinot Noir, the 2016 vintage of which took home the Gold Medal at the 2018 National Wine Awards of Canada. The 2017 vintage features flavors of ripe cherry and dark berries. Red wine lovers should also try the 2015 Terroir Caché, which features aromas of dried tobacco, pepper spice, and dark plum, with flavors of fig and blackberry.
Visitors can sample Hidden Bench Estate Winery’s diverse selection of wines in its tasting room, which is open seven days per week. Tours of the vineyards, production facility, and barrel cellar are also available. To learn more, visit www.hiddenbench.com.
Peller Estates Winery
Located in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Peller Estates Winery stands out as a family-run business established three generations ago by a Hungarian immigrant who was passionate about establishing a wine culture in Canada. As a testament to the winery’s commitment to quality, it was named Canadian Winery of the Year in 2015 and Ontario Winery of the Year in 2017 and 2018.
One of the winery’s strengths is its exceptional icewines. These unique dessert wines are made with grapes that are picked at night in mid-winter, when temperatures drop below -10 degrees Celsius. Winemakers press the grapes while the fruit is still frozen, and each grape yields just one drop of intensely flavorful juice.
Peller Estates’ icewines include the 2016 Andrew Peller Signature Series Oak-Aged Vidal Icewine, which won the Silver Medal at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards. This wine features a butterscotch finish as a result of the oak aging process.
Another award-winning icewine is the 2015 Andrew Peller Signature Series Riesling Icewine, which took home the Gold Medal from the International Wine Challenge in the United Kingdom and the Bronze Medal at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards. With honey and orange flavors, this is the sweetest of Peller Estates’ icewines.
White wine lovers should also try the 2016 Andrew Peller Signature Series Riesling. Awarded the Silver Medal at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards, this off-dry white wine has aromas of apple and citrus and offers a refreshing finish.
The winery’s award-winning red wines include the 2016 Private Reserve Cabernet Franc, which won the Gold Medal at the Six Nations Wine Challenge in Australia. This red wine features a unique bouquet of mint, tobacco, and eucalyptus and offers subtle fruit flavors. Red wine enthusiasts should also try the 2016 Private Reserve Pinot Noir, as these grapes grow especially well in the region. This exceptional wine has aromas of smoked cherry, mocha, red currant, and red licorice, with red berry and spice flavors.
Peller Estates Winery has also earned recognition for its sparkling wines. The winery took home the Bronze Medal at the 2018 Decanter World Wine Awards for its Ice Cuvée Classic. Made with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes and blended with Vidal Icewine, this sparkling wine gives off aromas of ripe apple and apricot and features a distinct tropical fruit taste.
In addition to sampling these and other wines at Peller Estates Winery, visitors can sign up for a guided hike through the 25-acre vineyard. The winery also offers tastings of various chocolates and cheeses skillfully paired with its wines. Alternatively, visitors can sample wines paired with a gourmet meal at The Winery Restaurant or the more casual Barrel House Grill. To learn more about Peller Estates Winery, see www.peller.com.