Ontario grows the most wine of any region in Canada, and the picturesque wineries in the southern part of the province provide delicious tasting experiences. Whether you want to learn more about viticulture, or simply love drinking wine, there is a tour for everyone across Ontario’s vine-covered hillsides. For the best Ontario wine tours, we’re going to focus on the three main regions of grape-growing in Ontario: the North Shore of Lake Erie, Prince Edward County, and, of course, the Niagara Peninsula.
Although sweet, sparkling, and ice wine come to mind when thinking of Canadian wine varieties, Ontario also produces some drier red and white wines for the discerning palate.
What is Ice Wine?
That being said, ice wine is the most popular wine in Ontario. If you don’t know what it is, you’ll definitely know after an Ontario wine tour.
A sweet wine, it’s produced from grapes that have been partially frozen before being picked. What results is a concentrated grape juice that makes this style of dessert wine. Ice wine originated in Germany and Austria, but now Canada dominates the ice wine production scene.
Lake Erie’s North Shore
The North Shore of Lake Erie is one of three main Ontario wine-growing regions. The lake provides a specific growing season to the area, shortening the hot weather season and bringing in cold winds in the summer. However, rainfall is not an issue in this area, and most vineyards do not need to irrigate their vines.
The climate of Lake Erie’s North Shore gives the wines some acidity. A prime spot for ice wine, the region also produces some Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.
People have grown grapes in the area since the 1860s, making the region even older than the Niagara Peninsula for viticulture.
Explore the rolling wine country of Lake Erie’s North Shore by bike on this popular cycling tour. The husband and wife team will take you through some of the prettiest areas in Essex while giving insider wine and region knowledge.
This lovely full-day wine tour will take you to three different North Shore wineries, where you’ll taste your way through the region’s variety. You’ll get to tour the wine production facilities and shop at boutique wine stores. And don’t worry, you’ll be fed a delicious lunch at one of the wineries’ restaurants.
Prince Edward County
A relatively recent addition to the list of Ontario wine regions, Prince Edward County, is only a couple hundred kilometers from Toronto. Situated on the shores of Lake Ontario, the lake makes the climate an excellent growing region for grapes. The lake cools down the blistering hot summer days, and in winter, the cover of snow prevents the vine roots from freezing solid.
The soil here forces vines to grow deep root systems to access the water underground, which adds to the flavour of the grapes. For this reason, Prince Edward County soil has been compared to the world-renowned Burgundy region in France. You’ll find some excellent Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines in the lesser-known Canadian spot.
Viticulture has taken off since the 1980s, with over 40 wineries surrounding the lake.
Karlo Estates is a woman-run company in the heart of Prince Edward County. Rated as one of Ontario’s top 20 wineries by Vine Routes, you’ll be pampered upon arrival to a glass of wine before visiting the vineyards and wine production areas. Tasting the Estates’ wines the whole time, of course. Afterwards, you’ll finish your tour with another glass of wine and charcuterie.
The largest wine-producing region in the country, the Niagara Peninsula, is just outside of Hamilton. With two large lakes on either side, the climate is heavily influenced by the water. The growing season is long and the frost late, giving time for the grapes to ripen. The weather makes for an intense and complex grape flavour that warmer climates cannot parallel.
There are plenty of vineyards to explore. With two main areas and 10 subregions, you could spend months discovering the over 100 wineries in this Ontario wine area. Each subregion has its own subclimate, making the wines taste different depending on where you are in the peninsula.
The most popular variety of wine is ice wine. In fact, the Niagara Peninsula produces the most ice wine of any place on earth. But, if you want a more traditional varietal, the region makes some excellent red, white, rose, and sparkling wines. The main grapes being Vidal, Riesling, and Cabernet Franc.
An excellent tour for those who really want to learn about the geography and grape varieties of Niagara, this tour will take you through an entire wine-making process, including showing you the ropes in an existing facility. You’ll visit three local wineries, led by your knowledgable guide, the whole time. Of course, you’ll also be able to enjoy the tastes of the region’s best wines paired with some delicious cheese that and charcuterie.
This experience is sure to be one for the memories. Take off from Bottonville Airport as you view Toronto and Niagra landscape from the sky. You’ll then be whisked away to some of the best Niagara Wineries in the region as you sip your way through the area’s finest wines and enjoy delicious charcuterie. Perfect for an anniversary, the flight escape trip is luxurious and delicious.
Situated on the lake, Konzelmann Estate is beautiful and the only winery to boast its intimate Lake Ontario views. You’ll love the scenic vineyard landscape, attractive architecture and delicious wine during your visit. The Estate offers different vineyards and wine tasting experiences where a friendly staff member will guide you through the history and flavours of the wines produced here.
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