CANADA 150 Photo Courtesy of Niagara Parks
By Lori Sweet
When you hear someone mention the Niagara Region, likely your first thought is Niagara Falls. While the magnificent natural wonder of the falls is a highlight of the area, with lots to see and do around them, venturing 25 km (15.5 miles) to Niagara-On-The- Lake is a must do.
Niagara-On-The-Lake is home to some of Canada’s best wineries. Tasting rooms and winery tours are available at many of the approximately 100 wineries in the region. Add the rising number of breweries and distilleries and the seasoned or novice oenophile (wine lover or connoisseur), as well as beer or spirits enthusiast, will be in heaven.
A glass of Trius Red and Artisan Canadian Cheese Plate. Photo: Lori Sweet
Trius Winery at Hillebrand
This is one of 7 premium brands owned by Andrew Peller Limited. We visited
three of these, which made for a perfect way to spend an afternoon.
Private dining area in The Trius Winery Restaurant. Photo: Lori Sweet
While Trius offers several wine tours, on the day of our visit we were treated to an amazing lunch in the onsite restaurant along with some wine tasting. The Trius Winery Restaurant is a fine dining experience with a menu that emphasizes local ingredients. No wine tasting here is complete without purchasing a bottle or two of their award-winning Trius Red, to take home.
Wine tasting in the vineyard. Photo: Lori Sweet
Visitors can choose from a wide variety of wine experiences. Choices range from tastings out in the vineyard to learning the art of pairing. One of the most unique experiences, is their 10Below Peller Icewine Lounge. Don a Peller Estates parka and enjoy some samples of their prize-winning Peller Estates Icewine.
Icewine frozen into the walls in the 10Below Lounge. Photo: Lori Sweet
Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery
Getting ready for the grand opening. Photo: Lori Sweet
The 23,000-square foot facility is the first of its kind in the region, featuring both wine and distillery production on site.
They offer tours, seminars and both wine and whisky tasting bars. A tour at The Whisky Loft, could find you enjoying a structured tasting of their premium whiskies.
Whisky for sampling. Photo: Lori Sweet
Crossing the foyer to the winery, you walk past nostalgic hockey memorabilia on your way to the wine tasting room. We were treated to the seated tasting menu, where our host described the various wines, it’s origin and the history of the vineyard. The perfect ending to this visit was the purchase of a bottle of Vidal Icewine to take home. This winery comes complete with a beautiful summer water feature which becomes an ice rink in the winter, complete with a ‘loonie’ buried at centre ice.
Hornblower Niagara Cruises. Photo Courtesy of Niagara Falls Tourism
You can rest assured that to my knowledge, there was no wine spilled. The spill is of course in reference to the mighty Niagara Falls. A boat tour on Hornblower Niagara Cruises, is a great way to see the falls up close and personal. The 20-minute daytime tour takes you into the heart of the mighty falls.
Bedrock tunnels. Photo: Lori Sweet
A unique way to see the falls is by taking an actual ‘Journey Behind the Falls’. Once you pull on your fully biodegradable yellow poncho, you descend 46 metres (150 feet) to explore 130-year-old bedrock tunnels. Not only can you hear the falls, you can actually feel the thunderous vibration under your feet.
There are viewing portals and an observation deck where you can witness first hand, up to 2800 cubic metres of water thunder over the brink of the Horseshoe Falls every second. Water travelling at 65 kilometres (40 miles) per hour is a sight to behold.
Maybe you thought the thrill was travelling towards the thundering falls in a boat or exploring behind the falls through a bedrock tunnel.
Zipline to the observation deck. Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls Tourism
A new thrill in town is
Wildplay’s Mistrider Zipline to the Falls. Four parallel zip lines face the American and Canadian Falls, 67 metres (220 feet) up. Once your guide has buckled you in and your belongings are stowed in your provided backpack, you are off on the thrill of a lifetime. Gravity propels riders 670 metres (2200 feet) at speeds of 70+kph (40+mph), along the edge of the Niagara river gorge ending safely at the falls observation landing.
Helicopter adventure over the Falls. Photo courtesy of Niagara Helicopters
If this wasn’t enough of a thrill for you, a helicopter ride with Niagara Helicopters Limited should be. Their 7 passenger helicopters whisk you off on a 9 minute, 27-kilometer (18 mile) flightseeing tour of the falls. With individual headsets giving you a taped commentary, large windows and breathtaking views, you and your camera will be able to take in the whole experience.
Whether you stay for a day or two or longer, the Niagara Region is sure to have something to excite all your senses!
Lori is a freelance travel writer and travel photographer based in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She has had a life-long passion for travel and for learning about other cultures, while travelling on and off the beaten path. Taking detours along the way has enriched her experiences immeasurably. Lori enjoys writing and photography, so it was a natural fit to combine this with her love of travel.
Lori was in education for 30 years. She was able to combine that with 14 years of part-time work as a Tour Director for a travel company that provides motor coach trips across North America. Upon retirement from teaching, she moved into the tour company office as a tour planner. She now spends her time working on other interests. She has kept a travel journal for over 30 years!
Lori has taken online and live travel writing and photography workshops and is a member of the International Travel Writers and Photographers Alliance (ITWPA).