Lake Erie North Shore & Pelee Island
When the great glacial lakes retreated, the north shore of Lake Erie remained submerged, letting the waves smooth out the landscape and depositing a deep layer of sandy loam and gravel. The sunniest region of Ontario, it also has the longest growing season. The combination of sun, quick warming of the lake and southwesterly breezes support excellent ripening conditions. The result is grapes that offer a delicious balance between sweetness and acidity for more full-bodied wine.
The numbers: On the same latitude as Tuscany, this growing wine region has 16 local vineyards and about 170 acres under cultivation.
Photo: Dave Stevenson
The grapes: Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon are reminiscent of Bordeaux, while Pelee Island’s Chardonnay and Pinot Noir offer a taste of the Burgundy region.
Don’t miss: Blueberry treats at Klassen’s (mid-July to September), 954 County Road 50 East, Harrow, Ontario; 519-738-4089, klassenblueberries.com.
Best wines: Viewpointe’s Auxerrois is delicious and versatile with food. Also check out Colchester Ridge Estate Winery’s Merlot Cabernet.
How to tour: Hop-on wine tours on a charming trolley, $57 CAD per person, including lunch. Windsor Essex Trolley, wetrolley.com, 519-738-2224.
More information: Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island, 800-265-3633, tourismwindsoressex.com.
Several glacial events eroded and shaped Niagara into a diverse growing region. Niagara has six climate zones, from sheltered slopes to shore vineyards, moderated by lake breezes circulated around the limestone bluffs of the Niagara Escarpment. The complex soil composition and continental climate produce 32 thriving varietals. Bench wines flourish on the escarpment, while early springs and frequent high temperatures and a range of soils in the lake region provide excellent growing conditions.
The numbers: 13,600 acres under cultivation make the peninsula the largest planted viticultural area of Canada, with around 80 wineries.
The grapes: Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir.
Best wines: Flat Rock Cellars’ Twisted is the expert’s choice, and its Riddled won Sparkling Wine of the Year in the All Canadian Wine Championships.
How to tour: Bike tours are fun for even casual riders. Half-day tours start at $65 (including bicycle). Niagara Wine Tours International, 92 Picton St., Niagara on the Lake, Ontario; 800-680-7006.
Don’t miss: Upper Cheese Company’s artisanal delights, 4159 Jordan Road, Jordan Station, Ontario; 905-562-9730, upperccanadacheese.com.
More information: Tourism Niagara, 800-263-2988, tourismniagara.com.
Generations of families have harvested hundreds of acres of grapes each year in Ashtabula because of ideal microclimate growing conditions. During the ice age, this region was a glacial beach. The sandy, loamy soil that remains provides nutrients and drainage ideal for growing grapes while the warm lake breezes extend the growing season into fall. Today, 65 percent of all grapes in Ohio are grown in Ashtabula County.
By the numbers: Thirty miles of Lake Erie shoreline, 20 wineries, five historic downtown shopping districts.
The grapes: Viniferas and French-American hybrids give this unique growing region the feel of Napa Valley.
Best wines: The Ohio Department of Agriculture named four Ohio wines as Director’s Choice recipients in 2011. Three of the winning wines were from this area: Ferrante Winery’s 2010 Signature Series Golden Bunches Dry Riesling, Old Firehouse Winery’s the Reflections of Lake Erie and Laurello Vineyards’ Sweet Genevieve Ice Wine.
How to tour: The Lodge at Geneva offers transportation to and from four area wineries. $15. 440-466-7100, thelodgeatgeneva.com.
Don’t miss: Along with visiting wineries, take time for a self-guided driving tour of Ashtabula County’s 18 covered bridges. Don’t miss the Smolen-Gulf Bridge, which measures 613 feet long and is the longest covered bridge in the United States.
More info: Ashtabula County Convention & Visitors Bureau, 800-337-6746, visitashtabulacounty.com.
Chautauqua-Lake Erie Wine Trail
During the Ice Age, glaciers gouged great trenches that left behind ridges of fertile soil and gravel ideal for grape growing. Now, vineyards are so dense in this region that visitors can smell the ripe grapes as they drive through wine country during harvest season. In all, there are 30,000 acres of grape vineyards in the 45 miles between North East, Pa., and Silver Creek, N.Y., making this the largest grape-growing region east of the Rockies.
By the numbers: 23 wineries, 101 miles of Lake Erie shoreline combined in Chautauqua County, N.Y., and Erie County, Pa.
The grapes: About 90 percent of the vineyards are planted with Concord grapes, which are used by companies such as Welch’s to make grape juice. But in the past 50 years many more diverse varieties of wine grapes have been planted in the region, including Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.
Best wines: The region is known in particular for its white wines and ice wines. And don’t miss out on a chance to try fresh grape juice.
How to tour: See the vineyards up close when you visit the region’s wineries by bicycle. Plan your own trip or join a Lake Country Bike tour. 814-725-1338, lakecountrybike.com.
Don’t miss: Take in a lecture at the Chautauqua Institute in New York or relax at Presque Isle State Park in Pennsylvania.
More info: Lake Erie Wine Country, 877-326-6561, lakeeriewinecountry.org.
Lake Erie Shores & Islands
Lake Erie’s coastline and islands offer excellent soil and climate for cultivating grapes. In summer, lake breezes cool the vineyards, while in fall and early winter, the lake keeps the coldest temperatures at bay. Its notable snow production acts as a crop protection blanket. The result: spectacular wines.
By the numbers: Fourteen wineries on two islands and the shore.
The grapes: Concord and Catawba grapes are the classics, but new European varieties have been introduced as winemakers moved beyond the traditional grapes grown in the area.
Best wines: Pink Catawba from Heineman’s Winery was a gold medal winner in the 2009 Ohio Wine Competition. Sweet and fruity, it’s also a crowd favorite.
How to tour: For a full list of area wineries and a wine trail map, visit ohiowines.org.
Don’t miss: Taking a guided tour of the world’s largest geode, called Crystal Cave, at Heineman’s Winery. 978 Catawba St., Put-in-Bay, Ohio; 419-285-2811, heinemanswinery.com.
More info: Lake Erie Shores & Islands, 800-441-1271, shoresandislands.com.
Bene Vino Urban Winery. The winemaker at Bene Vino grew up helping his family make wine each autumn by pressing grapes. 4199 Main St., D-1, Perry Village; benevinos.com, 440-259-5077.
Barrel Room Winery. This winery also has a full-service restaurant and features amateur wine-making competitions and corn hole tournaments on its outdoor patio. 28932 Euclid Ave., Wickliffe; thebarrelroomwinery.com, 440-943-2660.
Biscotti’s Family Winery. Opened in 2001, this winery is known for its “Tony Soprano” red and its award-winning elderberry wine. Turn a visit here into an overnight experience by renting a cottage owned by Biscotti’s within walking distance of the winery. 724 Whitney Road, Conneaut; biscottiwinery.com, 440-599-5555.
Breitenbach Amish Country Wines. This winery celebrates the Amish with an annual dandelion festival and an attached store selling locally made crafts and food. Its calendar also includes music and barbecue events. 5934 Old Route 39 NW, Dover; breitenbachwine.com; 330-343-3603.
Buccia Vineyard. Try the wine produced from various hybrid grapes, some grown on site. Then stay overnight at the winery’s bed-and-breakfast and shop in its craft store. 518 Gore Road, Conneaut; bucciavineyard.com, 440-593-5976.
Candlelight Winery. Along with a full selection of wines, this winery has a full calendar that includes light shows, live music and even an annual pug day. Also offers a limited menu. 11325 Center Road, Garrettsville; candlelightwinery.com, 330-527-4118.
Chalet Debonne’ Vineyards. The largest estate winery in Ohio, this boutique winery offers tours and tastings, as well as special events including lawn concerts, hot-air balloon rides and cookouts. 7743 Doty Road, Madison; debonne.com, 800-424-9463.
Chateau Tebeau Vineyard & Winery. Sip award-winning wine while exploring trails in the woods, walking through the 36-acre vineyard or relaxing by the koi pond. Live music on weekends during the summer. 525 State Route 635, Helena; chateautebeauwinery.com, 419-638-5411.
Cypress Hill Winery. The wines are made with California grapes at this small winery, which was opened in 2009 by two friends who have made wine together for 15 years, winning awards for their efforts along the way. 37 E. Fourth St., Mansfield; cypresscellars.com, 419-295-2124.
D & D Smith Winery. Housed in a structure built in 1870, this winery is family friendly, with a wide selection of board games to keep kids occupied. Adults can take part in wine-making classes and try the full selection of wines, including pumpkin wine. A limited menu is available. 401 W. Main St., Norwalk; ddsmithwinery.com, 567-424-6750.
Emerine Estates. This winery specializes in chemical- and preservative-free wines. It also features a restaurant with a sandwich and appetizer menu. A must-try: the wine milkshake. 5689 Loveland Road, Jefferson; emerineestates.com, 440-293-8199.
Farinacci Winery. This small winery, which is taking applications for private social winery club members, is open by appointment only. A bed-and-breakfast also operates on the property. 3951 W. state Route 307, Austinburg; farinacciwinery.com, 440-275-2300.
Ferrante Winery & Ristorante. The Ferrante family opened their original winery in 1937 in suburban Cleveland. Now in Geneva, they have a wine cellar and tasting bar. Finish with dinner at the popular restaurant, which features Italian cuisine. 5585 state Route 307, Geneva; ferrantewinery.com, 440-466-8466.
Firelands Winery. The largest winery in Ohio, Firelands Winery is one of five wine lines owned by Lonz Inc. The original wine cellar at Firelands was built in 1880. 917 Bardshar Road, Sandusky; firelandswinery.com, 419-625-5474.
Grand River Cellars Winery and Restaurant. This winery, nestled in the woods, produces both the Grand River Valley label and the Stonewood Vineyards label. Stonewood makes sweeter blends of wine. A full-service gourmet restaurant is attached to the winery. 5750 S. Madison Road, Madison; grandrivercellars.com, 440-298-9838.
Grande Wine Cellars. This small family-operated winery also sells beer and wine-making supplies and hosts clambakes and cookouts. 4641 Warner Road; Garfield Heights, 216-441-4439.
Greene Eagle Winery. The owners built the 18th-century-style winery with Colonial Williamsburg in mind. Sip wine and dine on a limited menu inside or outside on the large deck. 2576 Davis Peck Road, Cortland; greeneeagle.com, 330-583-9463.
Harpersfield Vineyards. The two Jack Russell terriers that roam the property are perhaps the most popular creatures at this small estate winery, which features a restaurant, live music and a 6-foot-high rustic fireplace. 6387 state Route 307, Geneva; harpersfield.com, 440-466-4739.
Heartland Vineyard Wines. Try this Cleveland-area winery’s wines or beer. 24945 Detroit Road, Westlake; 440-871-0700.
Heineman’s Winery. Founded in 1888 by a German immigrant, this winery was one of the few that survived Prohibition thanks to a natural wonder right below its surface. The Crystal Cave — the world’s largest geode — was discovered by workers digging a well for the winery in 1897. Tours of the Crystal Cave continue today. 978 Catawba St., Put-In-Bay; heinemanswinery.com, 419-285-2811.
Hermes Vineyards. This winery was opened by a psychiatrist in New York City who decided to move west and plant a vineyard on his family farm, making him the seventh generation to farm there. The winery, which includes 30 acres of vineyards, is known for its unusual varietals including Rhone, Spanish and Italian. 6413 state Route 4, Sandusky; hermesvineyards.com, 419-626-8500.
It’s Your Winery. Open by appointment only. Visitors make their own batch of wine at this shop. Staff then monitors the weeks-long fermentation process, and when the wine is ready, visitors bottle the wine to take home. 1682 E. Waterloo Road, Akron; itsyourwinery.com, 330-784-9463.
Johlin Century Wine. Established in 1870 and now operated by the fifth generation of the Johlin family, this winery produces 12 types of wine each year. 3935 Corduroy Road, Oregon; johlincenturywinery.com, 419-693-6288.
John Christ Winery. Operating since 1946, this winery’s bar also includes an appetizer menu. 32421 Walker Road, Avon Lake; johnchristwine.com, 440-933-9672.
Kelleys Island Wine Co. Kelleys Island’s only winery, this spot features not only a tasting room and restaurant, but also a large outdoor entertainment area that includes a children’s play area, horseshoes, volleyball courts and picnic tables. 420 Woodford Road, Kelleys Island; kelleysislandwine.com, 419-746-2678.
Klingshirn Winery. This third-generation family farm winery was started by Albert R. Klingshirn in 1935 when he began producing wine in 50-gallon wooden barrels in his basement. Five years later, his operation was successful enough that he built a winery. 33050 Webber Road, Avon Lake; klingshirnwine.com, 440-933-6666.
The Lakehouse Inn Winery. On the shores of Lake Erie, the Lakehouse Inn offers a spectacular view from its glassed-in tasting room or its outdoor deck. Stay the night at the attached bed-and-breakfast or beach house. 5653 Lake Road, Geneva-on-the-Lake; thelakehouseinn.com, 440-466-8668.
Laleure Vineyards. After five years of growing grapes, Laleure became an official Ohio winery in 2002, and opened its tasting room in 2003. Located in the heart of Amish country, this winery is open limited hours. Visitors should call for an appointment. 17335 Nash Road, Parkman; laleurevineyards.com, 440-548-5120.
Laurello Vineyards. Enjoy wine in one of three gathering rooms here, or take a glass outside to the covered patio. Along with your wine, enjoy a sandwich, salad or pizza from the wood-burning oven. 4573 state Route 307 East, Geneva; laurellovineyards.com, 440-415-0661.
Maple Ridge Vineyard. This membership winery, which specializes in sustainable practices, is open by appointment only. Call to schedule a tasting. 6326 Dewey Road, Madison; mapleridgevineyard.com, 440-829-8783.
Markko Vineyard. Specializes in an all-natural, organic process. Taste the product, tour the property and meet the owner, who left his job as an industrial engineer to follow his dream as a winemaker. R.D. 2 S. Parish Road, Conneaut; markko.com, 440-599-8833.
Matus Winery. Visitors can enjoy wine tasting in the 1900s-style show room and tour the vineyard and wine-making room. In the evening, watch the sunset beside the outdoor fire pit or on the veranda. The winery is also home to the Dead Yeast Society, a winemaking club. 15674 Gore Orphanage Road, Wakeman; matuswinery.us, 440-774-9463.
Mon Ami Restaurant and Historic Winery. Pioneer settlers on Catawba Island first opened the Catawba Island Wine Co. in 1872 with a 130,000-gallon capacity. Now owned by Lonz Inc., the Mon Ami facility includes a full restaurant. 3845 E. Wine Cellar Road, Port Clinton; monamiwinery.com, 419-797-4445.
Old Firehouse Winery. Housed in Geneva-on-the-Lake’s first firehouse, this winery includes a casual restaurant and features themed celebrations including a clambake and polka festival. 5499 Lake Road, Geneva-on-the-Lake; oldfirehousewinery.com, 440-466-9300.
Old Mill Winery. Located in a historic old mill, this rustic winery is also known for its live music and its restaurant, where you can try a wineburger. 403 S. Broadway St., Geneva; theoldmillwinery.com, 440-466-5560.
Paper Moon Vineyards. Located on 50 acres of land west of the Vermilion River, the winery was launched with 4,000 vines in 2008. It features a tasting room with tables made from oak barrels, an outdoor patio and a grassy courtyard with a fire pit and room for lawn games. Limited food service is available, including paninis, flatbread pizza, cheese plates, soup and salad. 2008 State Road, Vermilion; 440-967-2500, papermoonvineyards.com.
Quarry Hill Winery. The vineyard was planted on the highest point of this farm — 843 feet above sea level — and has a distant view of Lake Erie. For a true Ohio experience, try the Buckeye Red. A light food menu and outdoor seating, showcasing the panoramic views, are available. 8403 Mason Road, Berlin Heights; quarryhillwinery.com, 419-588-3179.
Sarah’s Vineyard. When the Cuyahoga Valley National Park asked for proposals for a longtime farm lease on the park’s property, Mike and Margaret Lytz submitted a plan to open a winery that embraced sustainable farming practices. Sarah’s Vineyard opened in 2007, and includes a limited menu, a full selection of wines and pieces by more than 50 local artisans. 1204 W. Steels Corners Road, Cuyahoga Falls; sarahsvineyardwinery.com, 330-929-8057.
St. Joseph Vineyards. This small boutique winery recently opened a new tasting room and deck overlooking the winery’s 60 acres of rolling hills and vineyards and the Grand River Valley. 6060 Madison Road, Thompson; saintjosephvineyard.com, 440-298-3709.
Tarsitano Winery & Cafe. After tasting the handcrafted wine, stay for a meal at the attached gourmet restaurant overlooking the vineyards and Conneaut Creek. 4871 Hatches Corners, Conneaut; tarsitanowinery.com, 440-224-2444.
Vermilion Valley Vineyards. Enjoy wine from the tasting room or covered patio overlooking the vineyards. Bring your own picnic to prepare in grills set up next to the stocked pond. There’s also pick-your-own corn and blueberries and a limited menu feat uring locally produced food. 11005 Gore Orphanage Road, Birmingham; vermilionvalleyvineyards.com, 440-965-5202.
Virant Family Winery. Along with tastings, this winery offers a calendar of events that includes pig roasts, steak roasts and clambakes. 541 Atkins Road, Geneva; virantfamilywinery.com, 440-466-6279.
Winery at Spring Hill. This winery features three collections of wines: premium, fruit and covered-bridge, which includes a blush and a pink Catawba. Buy a bottle and enjoy a live outdoor concert during the summer months. 6062 S. Ridge Road West, Geneva; thewineryatspringhill.com, 440-466-0626.
Winery at Wolf Creek. This award-winning winery, founded in 1980, offers cooking classes, yoga, wine tastings and even an Easter egg hunt. 2637 S. Cleveland Massillon Road, Norton; wineryatwolfcreek.com, 800-436-0426.
Burch Farms Country Market and Wine Shop. This farm, with views of Lake Erie, has been in the Burch family since 1779. The winery is the family’s newest undertaking. It opened in 2009 and specializes in fruit wines. Also shop in their country market and bakery. 9210 Sidehill Road, North East; burchfarmswineshop.com, 814-725-0747.
Courtyard Wineries. Courtyard opened in 2010, making it Erie County’s newest winery. It offers two lines of wines. LaCourette is the line of traditional wine selections, while Bario Bons offers selections with names like Lazy Daze and Ruby Rouge. 10021 W. Main Road, North East; courtyardwineries.com, 814-725-0236.
Heritage Wine Cellars. The Bostwick family, which owns this winery, has been farming for more than 150 years in this spot. Now, their Heritage Wine Cellars is housed in a restored 18th-century barn. 12160 E. Main Road, North East; heritagewine.biz, 814-725-8015.
Lakeview Wine Cellars. This small winery ferments its premium varieties in Pennsylvania white oak barrels. As its name suggests, the winery has a view of Lake Erie from its high perch. 8440 Singer Road, North East; lakeviewwinecellars.com, 814-725-4440.
Mazza Vineyards. Mazza is Erie County’s largest winery and the first Pennsylvania winery to make ice wine, a rare and distinct dessert wine made from pressing grapes while they are still frozen. The winery, located just off Lake Erie, also features sherry and port. 11815 E. Lake Road, North East; mazzawines.com, 800-796-9463.
Penn Shore Vineyards. Notable for offering the very first Pennsylvania-made champagne in 1970, Penn Shore is now well known in the region for its popular live music events at its outdoor venue during the summer. 10225 E. Lake Road, North East; pennshore.com, 814-725-8688.
Presque Isle Wine Cellars. This business started as a supplier of grapes and equipment to amateur winemakers in 1964 and continues to do so today, with customers in 50 states. Located creekside, visitors can enjoy a picnic by the waterfall here while trying one of the winery’s reds or whites. 9440 W. Main Road, North East; piwine.com, 814-725-1314.
South Shore Wine Company. Few people had seen this stone cavern since Prohibition closed the original winemaking operation here, which first began more than 150 years ago. But the owners of Mazza Vineyards reopened the historic cellar to the public again several years ago and now bottle wine under the South Shore label. A casual open-air cafe adjacent to the winery serves a limited menu. 1120 Freeport Road, North East; ss.mazzawines.com, 814-725-1585.
21 Brix Winery. This brand-new winery, currently under construction, is expected to open in the fall of 2011. 6654 W. Main Road, Portland; 21brix.com, 716-792-2749.
Blueberry Sky Farm Winery. Along with an assortment of fruit wines, the tasting menu at this 70-acre winery includes cooking wines in flavors such as garlic, jalapeno, tomato and cucumber. 10243 NE Sherman Road, South Ripley; blueberryskyfarm.com, 716-252-6535.
Johnson Estate Winery. The area’s oldest estate winery, grapes have been grown on the land here since the late 1800s. The family’s third generation of growers now operates the winery, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year with a series of special events. 8419 U.S. Route 20, Westfield; johnsonwinery.com, 1-800-374-6569.
Liberty Vineyards and Winery. Most of the wines here are made from the owner’s vineyards, some of which have been in the family since the 1860s. Liberty Vineyards wines have won 2011 competitions in Florida and California. 2861 Main Road, Sheridan; libertyvineyardsandwinery.com, 716-672-4520.
Mazza Chautauqua Cellars. The Mazza family, which also has two wineries in North East, Pa., opened this winery in New York in 2005. It is western New York’s only distillery, with wine being made into brandy. Features include an open-air cafe overlooking landscaped grounds and a pond. 4717 Chautauqua Stedman Road, Mayville; mcc.mazzawines.com, 716-269-3000.
Merritt Estate Winery. Now run by a father and son, this estate has been in the same family since the late 1800s. Its ice wine, Bella Ice, was awarded a double gold medal at a 2011 international wine competition. 2264 King Road, Forestville; merrittestatewinery.com, 716-965-4800.
Noble Winery. Opened in 2006 by husband and wife Diane and Pete Noble, this winery sits on a hill overlooking Lake Erie. 8630 Hardscrabble Road, Westfield; noblewinery.com, 716-326-9463.
Quincy Cellars Winery and Banquet Hall. The retail area is in a 125-year-old renovated barn, while the tasting room below is located in the old stone cellar. Plan your visit in conjunction with one of the monthly winemaker dinners at the restaurant. 10606 W. Main Road, Ripley; quincycellars.com, 716-736-2021.
Schloss Doepken Winery. A 100-year-old farmhouse houses the tasting room and gift shop at this winery, which opened in 1981. Try the Ripley Red and Cheektowaga White. 9177 Old Route 20, Ripley; lakeeriewinecountry.org, 716-326-3636.
Sensory Winery & Art Gallery. This wine shop features works by regional artists. 10593 West Main Road, Ripley; lakeeriewinecountry.org, 716-736-2444.
Seven Vines Winery. This new winery opened in the fall of 2010, though the winemaker has 25 years of experience. 7540 E. Main Road, Westfield; lakeeriewinecountry.org, 716-326-6672.
Sparkling Ponds Winery. Seventy acres of grapes and several ponds are the highlight of this picturesque property. The owners are creative with their wine naming: there’s the Walleye Wobbler, the Pig Roast Pickler, Fatal Attraction and Woman Pleaser. Relax outdoors overlooking the ponds with a bottle of wine and River Rat Horseradish Cheese. 10661 W. Lake Road, Ripley; sparklingponds.com, 716-736-4525.
Vetter Vineyards Winery. Situated on the hillside of a 100-acre farm, Lakeview was bought by its current owners in 2003 and now features a new tasting room and expanded gift shop. 8005 Prospect Station Road, Westfield; lakeeriewinecountry.org, 716-326-3100.
Willow Creek Winery. Along with a winery and gift shop, the 26-acre Willow Creek has picnic groves, hiking trails and fishing areas. It also hosts car shows, concerts and festivals. 2627 Chapin Road, Silver Creek; willowcreekwines.net, 716-934-9463.
Woodbury Vineyards. The winery and tasting room are set in an apple orchard with a picnic pavilion. The vineyards overlook Lake Erie. 3215 S. Roberts Road, Fredonia; woodburyvineyards.com, 716-679-9463.
Aleksander Estate Winery. One of the newest wineries on the north shore of Lake Erie, this family-owned winery offers regular dinners along with private tours and tastings. 1542 County Road No. 34, Ruthven; aleksanderestate.com, 519-326-2024.
Alvento Winery. The owners, a husband-and-wife team, started a winery decades ago in Italy, but moved to Canada in 2001 and created a 16-acre waterfront vineyard at Jordan Harbour on the Niagara peninsula. 3048 Second Ave., Vineland; alvento.ca, 905-562-1212.
Angels Gate Winery. Founded by a group of wine-loving friends on a site that was once owned by the Congregation of Missionary Sisters of Christian Charity, the winery offers lake views and patio lunches featuring locally produced food. 4260 Mountainview Road, Beamsville; angelsgatewinery.com, 905-563-3942.
Aure Wines. This family-run winery is committed to minimizing its environmental impact. Its buildings are a study of environmentally friendly construction, including the “living roof” and solar heating. 3749 Walker Road, Beamsville; aurewines.com, 905-563-7256.
Birtch Farms and Estate Winery. This winery offers fruit wines — as well as lots of fall fun, including you-pick apples and pumpkins, a corn maze and scarecrow making. R.R. 7, Woodstock; birtchfarms.com, 519-469-3040.
Crown Bench Estates. Visitors can see the Toronto skyline from the vineyards. Take time to explore the property, which features streams, waterfalls and ponds, and is bordered by forests. 3850 Aberdeen Road, Beamsville; crownbenchestates.com, 888-537-6192.
Cornerstone Estate Winery. Founded in 2002 and opened to the public in 2005, this winery is located on 20 acres of land. Its winemaker has more than 40 years of experience. The farm also has an extensive fruit tree farm. 4390 Tufford Road, Beamsville; cornerstonewinery.com, 905-563-6758.
Coyotes Run Estate Winery. Distinctive for its two different soils: red Trafalgar clay, which is scarce in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region, and dark Toledo clay, which is more common. The winery also offers visitors the chance to spend a day as a winemaker. 485 Concession 5 Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake; coyotesrunwinery.com, 905-682-8310.
Cattail Creek Estate Winery. The owner of Cattail Creek grew up playing in her father’s vineyards and then purchased her own farm. In 2006, she and her husband started their own winery. R.R. No. 4, 1156 Concession 6, Niagara-on-the-Lake; cattailcreek.ca, 905-988-9463.
Chateau Des Charmes. The outdoor courtyard is surrounded by vineyards and rose gardens. The winery’s property was originally settled in 1783 when a Methodist church was built there. 1025 York Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake; chateaudescharmes.com, 905-262-4219.
Calamus Estate Winery. Calamus is the Latin word for arrow. The owners chose the name because of arrow fragments found on the property. A building that looks like a silo is actually an observatory with a deep-space telescope installed. The winery has frequent events centering on the telescope, as well as hikes to a nearby waterfall. 3100 Glen Road, Jordan; calamuswines.com, 905-562-9303.
Caroline Cellars. Rick and Frieda Lakeit purchased the farm in 1978 and grew grapes, which they sold to other wineries. In 2000, they decided to start their own winery and opened to the public in 2002. The winery is named for Rick’s mother, Caroline, who helped them purchase the farm. Its calendar includes an annual lobster fest, pork roast and New Year’s Eve party. 1028 Line 2, Virgil; carolinecellars.com, 905-468-8814.
Colchester Ridge Estate Winery. This 42-acre family winery opened in 2005. Its calendar includes live music, shoreline explorations and wine seminars. 108 County Road 50 East, Harrow; colchesterridge.com, 519-738-9800.
Colio Estate Wines. This winery opened in 1980 and was the first winery licensed in the region since Prohibition. It now produces more than 300,000 cases of wine each year. 1 Colio Drive, Harrow; coliowinery.com, 519-738-2241.
D’Angelo Estate Winery. This winery’s owner was named Ontario’s “Grape King” in 1999. Now, Salvatore D’Angelo is the first vintner to have a winery both in Ontario and British Columbia and has won more than 60 awards. 5141 5th Concession North, Amherstburg; dangelowinery.com, 519-736-7959.
Erie Shore Vineyard. This award-winning winery features special events on the weekends like live music and gourmet appetizers prepared by some of the area’s best chefs. 410 County Road West 50, Harrow; erieshore.ca, 519-738-9858.
Featherstone Winery and Vineyard. This winery offers lunch on its veranda overlooking the vineyards and occasional brunches featuring its winemaker as host. Featherstone is also notable for some of its unique farming methods: A hawk circles the vineyards to scare away nuisance birds, and a flock of sheep trims the vines. 3678 Victoria Ave., Vineland; featherstonewinery.ca, 905-562-1949.
Flat Rock Cellars. Visitors can take in the views from inside or out of the winery’s glass-encased hexagonal-shaped building. Wannabe winemakers can attend day- or weekend-long seminars to learn about the craft. 2727 Seventh Ave., Jordan; flatrockcellars.com, 905-562-8994.
The Foreign Affair Winery. After living in Italy, the owners of this vineyard decided to start their own winery back home in Canada and harvested their first crop in 2004. 4890 Victoria Ave. North, Vineland Station; foreignaffairwine.com, 905-562-9898.
Fielding Estate Winery. The wine lodge is crafted from stone, cedar and glass to take advantage of the view. Its calendar features events such as girls’ nights out and yoga in the vineyards. 4020 Locust Lane, Beamsville; fieldingwines.com, 888-778-7758.
Good Earth Food and Wine Co. On the forefront of the farm-to-table movement, this business offers wine, cooking classes and culinary events featuring locally produced products. Lunches are served on its outdoor patio, or order a picnic to go and take a bottle of wine to enjoy in the vineyards and orchards. 4556 Lincoln Ave., Beamsville; goodearthfoodandwine.com, 905-563-6333.
Harbour Estates Winery. This winery, with 30 acres of grapes, has 1,800 feet of frontage on Jordan Harbour. Its staff is in the process of developing a trail system through the nearby woods and a boardwalk to the harbor. 4362 Jordan Road, Jordan Station; hewwine.com, 905-562-6279.
Hidden Bench Vineyard and Winery. Connoisseurs can apply for wine club memberships here to be a part of the twice-annual wine releases. 4152 Locust Lane, Beamsville; hiddenbench.com, 905-563-8700.
Hinterbrook Estate Winery. Just opened, the winery’s goal — along with making great wine — is to have a zero-energy footprint. To help achieve that, a 40-foot-tall solar panel was recently installed. 1181 Lakeshore Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake; hinterbrook.com, 905-646-5133.
Hernder Estate Wines. To get to this winery, housed in a restored 1867 Victorian barn, visitors travel over the Niagara region’s only wooden covered bridge. The picturesque winery hosts more than 125 wedding receptions each year. 1607 Eighth Ave., St. Catharines; hernder.com, 905-684-3300.
Henry of Pelham Estate Winery. Tour the winery and its cemetery by Segway, and then dine at the Coach House Cafe, which overlooks the estate vineyards. There are also picnic and patio facilities available for visitors who bring their own meals. 1469 Pelham Road, R.R. No. 1, St. Catharines; henryofpelham.com, 905-684-8423.
The Ice House. As its name suggests, this winery focuses on ice wine. Try an icewine slushie. 14778 Niagara Pkwy., Niagara-on-the-Lake; theicehouse.ca, 905-262-6161.
Inniskillin. Founders Karl J. Kaiser and Donald J.P. Ziraldo were granted the first winery license in Ontario since Prohibition in 1975. Offers a limited menu of seasonally inspired food. 1499 Line 3, Niagara-on-the-Lake; inniskillin.com, 888-466-4754.
Joseph’s Estate Winery. While award-winning wine is certainly made here, it is also known for its grapeseed oil. 1811 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake; josephsestatewines.com, 866-468-1259.
Kacaba Vineyards. The property on which Kacaba is situated was slated to be developed into a subdivision by its previous owner. But in 1997 a Toronto lawyer was able to purchase the property and planted vines instead. 3550 King St., Vineland; kacaba.com; 905-562-5625.
Lailey Vineyard. The winemaker here was a physical education teacher before becoming a farmer in 1970. The career change was a good one: She was the first woman given the award for the best vineyard in Niagara. The winner is normally crowned the Grape King. The year she won, she was the Grape Queen. 15940 Niagara Parkway, Niagara-on-the-Lake; laileyvineyard.com, 905-468-0503.
Mastronardi Estate Winery. This winery was established in 2006, though its 100-acre vineyard was planted more than 25 years ago. Try the Brianje, which translates to Brittany Angel, and is named for the owner’s daughter, who died when she was 11. A portion of sale proceeds from the wine named in her honor goes to researching Batten disease. 1193 Road 3 East, Kingsville; mastronardiwines.com,1-800-320-5040.
Maleta Estate Winery. The author of a home winemaking book turned his passion into his own vineyard, and then acquired two more wineries — including Maleta. The property sits on what is thought to be Niagara’s first commercial vineyard, originally developed in the mid-1800s. 450 Queenston Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake; maletawinery.com, 905-685-8486.
Malivoire Wine Company. A couple who wanted to move to the country bought the vineyard here in 1995. They then planted close to 50 acres of grapes. 4260 King Street East, Beamsville; malivoire.com, 866-644-2244.
Mountain Road Wine Company. After years of growing grapes for other wineries, Steve Kocsis produced his first commercial wine in 1999. The ice wine won a gold medal at the Cellars of the World International Competition in Ottawa, and his winery business was off and running. 4016 Mountain St., Beamsville; mountainroadwine.com, 905-563-0745.
Muscedere Vineyards. This family farm was established as a winery in 2002 when brothers Rob and Fabio Muscedere returned home after living and working in the United States. Along with tastings, visitors can ask for tours of the vineyards and barrel room. 7457 County Road 18, Harrow; muscederevineyards, 519-965-1075.
Organized Crime Winery. Named for a local legend involving a rivalry between two Mennonite churches and a stolen organ (get it: Organized Crime?), this winery has won multiple awards. 4043 Mountainview Road, Beamsville; organizedcrimewine.com, 905-563-9802.
Puddicombe Estate Farms and Winery. This farm was first used in 1797 to raise cattle. In the early 1900s it transformed into a fruit farm and, in 1940, the first grapes were planted. Now this 300-acre farm makes wine, runs a pick-your-own operation and hosts events such as a Poker Run and a Boo-ooze Costume Party. 1468 No. 8 Highway, Winona; puddicombefarms.com, 905-643-1015.
Pillitteri Estate. Opened by an Italian immigrant in 1993, this family-run winery has been awarded more than 500 medals at domestic and international competitions for its ice wine. The winery hosts a series of patio events during the summer, such as chocolate truffle making and a pig roast. 1696 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake; pillitteri.com, 905-468-3147
Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery. This winery’s landmark is its Queen Anne revival Victorian manor built in 1885. It was restored in 2000 and now operates as the Kitchen House restaurant. 5600 King Street West, Beamsville; peninsularidge.com, 905-563-0900.
Pelee Island Winery. The winery is the center of island acduring the summer, including the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival, featuring more than 50 vendors serving food and wine. Or come on a quieter day to relax in the garden overlooking the lake or for a walk along the Red Cedar Savannah trail. 455 Seacliff Drive, Kingsville; peleeisland.com, 800-597-3533.
Ravine Vineyard. Enjoy a view of Niagara-on-the-Lake from the deck of this winery. Visitors can also dine at the Bistro Restaurant, located inside a 200-year-old house recognized as one of Canada’s top 50 most architecturally significant homes. Its calendar includes wine-and-cheese Thursdays and oysters-and-champagne Fridays. 1366 York Road, St. Davids; ravinevineyard.com, 905-262-8463.
Rockway Glen Golf Course and Estate Winery. Along with the winery, this property offers an 18-hole championship course laid out among the vineyards. Visitors can also tour a wine museum while here. 3290 Ninth St., St. Catharines; rockwayglen.com, 905-641-1030.
Royal DeMaria. A bottle of Royal DeMaria 2000 Pinot Gris ice wine brought $30,000 in an auction in 2011. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth requested six bottles of DeMaria icewine during her 2002 visit to Canada. Not a bad résumé for a winemaker who made his first icewine in 1998. 4551 Cherry Ave., Beamsville; royaldemaria.com, 905-562-1380.
Rosewood Estates. Rosewood Estates Winery & Meadery. On his honeymoon in Niagara Falls more than 25 years ago, Eugene Roman promised his new wife that they would one day open a winery. They purchased a farm in 2000 and it remains the only winery in the region to make honeywine. 4352 Mountainview Road, Beamsville; rosewoodwine.com, 866-633-3248.
Ridgepoint Wines. Along with its winery, which opened in 2003, the owners here operate a restaurant called Scarsellones at Ridgepoint, which is open for casual dining and special wine-related events. 3900 Cherry Ave., Vineland; ridgepointwines.com, 905-562-8853.
Ridge Road Estate Winery. Wine, of course, is the primary draw, but this spring a female mountain bluebird — a rare sight east of the Rockies — made the winery its temporary home, drawing birders as well as wine connoisseurs. Visit on the weekend in the summer and enjoy a cheese-and-charcuterie plate on the patio. 1205 Ridge Road, Stoney Creek; ridgeroadwinery.ca, 289-649-0353.
Riverview Cellars Estate Winery. In 1992, Sam Pillitteri uprooted the farm’s fruit trees and replaced them with vineyards. Eight years later, the winery opened. The property stretches along the Niagara River and its bike trail. 15376 Niagara Pkwy. R.R. No. 1, Niagara-on-the-Lake; riverviewcellars.com, 905-262-0636.
Smith and Wilson Estate Wines. The vineyards here are grown on a gravel ridge that falls to meet the shore of Lake Erie. Events are held in the foundation of a 100-year-old cattle barn, where you can taste wine while overlooking the lake, vineyards and flower gardens. 8368 Water St., Chatham-Kent; smithandwilsonestatewines.ca, 888-676-5867.
Southbrook Vineyards. Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier purchased this vineyard in 2005 and committed themselves to sustainable viticulture. Southbrook was the first wine estate in Canada to earn both organic and biodynamic certification. 581 Niagara Stone Road, R.R. No. 4, Niagara-on-the-Lake; southbrook.com, 888-581-1581.
Sprucewood Shores Estate. This lakefront winery opened in 2006, though the vines were planted 20 years ago. Balconies in its Tuscan-style building overlook the vineyards and Lake Erie. Want to get closer? Visitors can take a glass of wine on a stroll along the winery’s beachfront property. 7258 County Road, 50 West, Harrow; sprucewoodshores.com, 866-938-9253.
Stratus Vineyards. Winemaking at this 50-acre environmentally friendly estate is led by J-L Groux, a French native who has been honored as Ontario Winemaker of the Year and is known for his blends. 2059 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake; stratuswines.com, 905-468-1806.
Strewn Winery. Visitors can sign up for the cooking school or just stop by the restaurant, Terroir La Cacchette, which overlooks Four Mile Creek. There are also wine-education seminars. 1339 Lakeshore Road, R.R. No. 3, Niagara-on-the-Lake; strewnwinery.com, 905-468-1229.
Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery. Named for its proprietor, whose family has run this estate for 200 years, the winery opened in 2009. 3210 Staff Ave., Jordan; staffwines.com, 877-566-1719.
Vineland Estates Winery. This venue was originally built as a Mennonite homestead in the 1840s. Now the original farmhouse is the Restaurant at Vineland Estates Winery, the century barn houses the retail store and wine tasting bar, and the Carriage House is opened for private events. 3620 Moyer Road, Vineland; vineland.com, 888-846-3526.
Wagner Estate Winery. This is one of the newest wineries in the country. Its owner, Harold Wagner, specializes in fruit wines and also raises livestock and has an apple orchard, where visitors can pick-their-own. 1222 Concession 8W, Lakeshore; wagnerorchards.com, 519-723-4807.
Wayne Gretzky Estate Wines. Like its owner, the hockey player, this winery has quickly made its mark on its industry. Opened in 2007, the winery has won numerous awards, though its winery, featuring Gretzky memorabilia, is as much a draw to hockey fans as it is to wine connoisseurs. 3751 King St., Vineland; gretzkyestatewines.com, 905-562-4945.