I used to be more of a wine-hater than a wine-lover. I would drink it at parties and events, but would find a way to somehow lose the glass so no one would notice I didn’t finish it!
I didn’t really find my love for wine until I went on my first wine tour. Each winery I visited would ask me questions like, what was my regular drink of choice? Or, what did I like better – something fruity or something very dry? By the time I was finished the day I knew exactly what wines I liked, and which wines I should stay away from because they weren’t for me.
Since that first time we have done many different trips to Niagara wineries either on our own by driving from winery to winery, or with a company named Crush on Niagara.
Crush has a list of tours they offer which include transportation, tours and tastings at a selection of wineries. Some tours offer lunch as well. We tried three different Crush tours and all of them were amazing! The guides were always very knowledgeable, and at each winery we visited we were taken care of immediately like we were VIP’s.
The best part about taking a wine tour versus touring on your own is that you have a DD! It’s no fun to have one person not be able to experience the tastings, so having someone drive you around for an afternoon and to make sure you are taken care of at each winery right away is very valuable.
After sampling a few tours we decided to book our own private tour for the first time, Crush offers the opportunity to book private tours by contacting the company directly to make arrangements. Because we had done so many tours with Crush previously and have also visited many wineries on our own, we arranged to have a few wineries in mind to visit, and along the way we agreed to have the driver suggest a few we may want to visit.
The day of the tour we were picked up in one of the Crush Land Rovers which was great because it was a very comfortable ride! Our guide actually ended up being a driver we had previously which was great because he was very knowledgeable about the regions wineries.
This tour was one of the best yet since we were able to do exactly what we wanted. We visited some wineries we always wanted to, plus our driver took us to wineries we had no idea even existed.
We spent four hours traveling around Niagara on the Lake, Vineland and Beamsville and were safely picked up and dropped off at our hotel in Niagara Falls. We also were able to spend our time at the wineries doing tastings and looking around on our own instead of doing introductory tours which are often included on a regularly-arranged wine tour. On our first tour it was very interesting to learn about the wine making process, but it’s not as fun to go through the same lesson with each tour. On the private tour we didn’t need to worry about who’s was a first timer on the tour and needed to hear that sort of information, which was nice.
For an introduction to Niagara on the Lake wineries I would recommend contacting Crush to arrange a tour and get an idea of what sort of wines they have to offer. Once you are a bit more familiar with the area, I would recommend booking a private tour like we did so you can go where you want, or you could venture out on your own to wineries you are interested in. Here are a few of our favourites:
Megalomaniac is our favourite winery, not only because of the wines, but the winery itself. It’s situated on a high hill with an amazing view of the lake. The winey has a large set of gates that lead to a door that takes you inside the hill to this underground winery. It’s really amazing to see, and it helps that their Riesling is amazing.
Vineland Estates Winery is very picturesque and even has a market with cheeses and food to pair with your wine, plus a restaurant on site. We have found the staff to be very nice here, and during our tastings they let us try a few wines that weren’t on the regular tasting menu. They even have a special Girls Just Want to Have Fun deal where for $15 per person you will receive a wine and cocktail tasting, which finishes with some chocolate and a shot. What’s not to love about that!
Between the Lines Winery is one of the smallest wineries in Niagara, but it is where we made the most purchases on our latest trip. Normally we don’t like blended wine, but we made an exception and trusted them with a tasting, and we made sure we left with a bottle.
A relatively new spot is Colaneri Winery. It was built to look like it belongs in Italy instead of Niagara, and in the summer they have a wood-burning pizza oven outside with live music. Although the winery itself is something to see, they have a large number of wines they produce and each label represents a family member and has a story behind it.
Creekside Estate Winery is a place I will never forget because the person who hosted our tasting had me try practically every wine they had until I finally found the first wine I liked! They take customer service pretty seriously there, and their Cabernet Rose was the big winner for me.
For more information on booking a wine tour in Niagara and the surround area, contact Crush on Niagara. www.crushtours.com