Last week I spent a mentally draining first part of the week at an intense workshop in Canada all about opening up your mind to centered leadership/becoming a leader from within. We did a lot of touchy feely things, which as a Brit at my core, I find quite difficult. I am not one for the trust circle or falling back into someone’s arms hoping they will catch me.
Workshop over my friend, Stacey joined me for the rest of the weekend to relax and enjoy Toronto. I took Friday off so our first excursion was to Niagara on the Lake and wine country.
As a side note, I honestly had no idea Canada had serious wine. I knew some wineries were known for Icewines, in particular Inniskillin but that’s about it.
Our trip, which took about 90 minutes from Toronto started at Ravine Winery. I had made a reservation for lunch at their restaurant, which had great reviews on all the sites from Yelp to TripAdvisor and OpenTable.
The day was a perfect sunny, fall day with bright skies and a light breeze. Surrounded by vineyards the views from the wine tasting room and restaurant are spectacular.
Our tasting consisted of two whites and two reds. I was immediately drawn to the 2012 Ravine Vineyard Chardonnay, which is slightly oaky with aromas of watermelon and salted butter. Fresh tastes of cream and citrus are in abundance in this delightful chardonnay. This is definitely a wine I would buy and knew immediately it would accompany my lunch once we ventured next door to their restaurant.
The restaurant, which is reminiscent of an old shed or barn house, has a casual, friendly feel to it. The waitstaff smile at every turn and the clientele is a mix of tourists, families and locals. The menu is filled with many dishes I would choose so felt a little stuck as to what to order. I finally settled on lightIer fare with the Wild Mushroom Tart with a fantastic sunny side up egg followed by the freshest arugula salad with a delightful citrus dressing. Everything I ordered paired perfectly with my Ravine Vineyard Chardonnay.
My friend Stacey ordered the rich tasting special of butternut squash soup followed by the same wonderful arugula salad. She was also in agreement with the wine pairing.
Our next stop was Inniskillin, recommended as “the” place to go for Icewines (Ice Wines). What we didn’t realize was how good their other wines are. We enjoyed a flight of whites and reds with a favorite for me being their Cabernet Franc.
After our first flight of the table wines, we moved onto the Icewines. We tried a flight of two Icewines of the 2012 Sparkling Cabernet France and 2012 Sparkling Vidal. If you don’t know Icewines, it can be a little startling when you first taste them. They are ridiculously sweet and syrupy, however, pause for a moment take a bite of dark chocolate and sip again, especially the reds. You will be pleasantly surprised. This wine should be savored and enjoyed sip by sip and preferably with chocolate.
Our final stop was a last minute recommendation from someone I met in Toronto. Stratus Winery is reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright meets Cabernet. This is the winery where I spent the most money, however, not exorbitant in any way. None of their wines they had on offer were that pricey.
We talked for a long time with our wine rep, a fellow Brit, whose knowledge and eccentric flair was hugely entertaining. I ordered the 2010 Stratus White and 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon, which I will be reviewing at a later time but know I already like because I bought them:).
Our day ended with a beautiful sunny walk around Niagara on the Lake’s picturesque little town center with a stop off at Nina’s for an Americano and yummy butter cookie. Their gelatos looked AMAZing!
Our day was delightfully tasty, fun filled and something I would highly recommend to anyone visiting Toronto. This absolutely worth the day trip or even an overnight.
The one thing I was sad about is that Ontario wines cannot be shipped to the US and of course with the fact that we cannot carry liquids through customs it makes it impossible to buy lots, which I totally would have done. I had to be very particular and specific with what I wrapped up in and packed into my checked luggage.
The Ravine restaurant, which I highly recommend can be found on Opentable.com.