With so many wineries to choose from, we winged it for the most part but a made a point to stop at Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery first – since we served their Baco Noir, Riesling and Sparkling Brut on our wedding day last year
The Henry of Pelham Family Estate sits on stunning property on the Short Hills Bench at the base of the Niagara Escarpment – intimate and welcoming yet boasting Canada’s largest underground barrel cellar. Entering the Wine Boutique and Tasting Room is like going back in time – rows upon rows of colourful bottles surrounded by the original foundation of the Henry of Pelham building. We enjoyed various red, white and rose varietals as well as exclusive Estate Reserves and delicious blends from the Sibling Rivalry collection. It was a very generous tasting at 11am if you ask me!
We took home a bottle of the 2010 Sibling Rivalry Pink (Cabernet, Syrah and Gamay blend; the perfect rose for a sunny summer afternoon) and the 2010 Baco Noir Reserve (full bodied, well balanced and destined to age well). We took a quick peak at the family art collection in the main building before heading out – we hope to take in the full winery tour next time!
The scenic drive along Regional Road 81 lead us to the new Colaneri Estate Winery. It’s hard to miss this expansive Romanesque estate set in the heart of the vineyard on the lush acres of St. David’s Bench. Traveling up the long driveway lined with Italian cypress trees, we instantly reminisced over the Tuscan wine tours we enjoyed on our first romantic trip to Italy in 2009 – we were meant to stop here!
Created in the shape of a “C”, this estate not only honours the family name, but embraces the captivating view – absolutely stunning and this is just phase one of construction! We swooned over the vineyard and the sun-kissed vines for a few moments before heading inside for some Italian flavours!
The retail store and tasting room overlooks the production area so guests can enjoy the wine making process – not much action going on while we were there, but it was fun to see! We were instantly greeted and welcomed to the tasting bar for one of the most enjoyable wine tastings we’ve ever experienced. Not only were they generous but incredibly knowledgeable, offering us a layman’s education on the Italian techniques they use to define their style: Appassimento, Recioto and Ripasso – various stages of drying grapes to concentrate their sugars and flavours.
We enjoyed tasting the various wines – red and white, fruity and spicy, savoury and sweet – as well as the stories behind the beautifully artistic labels that represent the members of the Colaneri family. We would’ve taken them all home, but decided to go outside of our comfort zone with a dessert wine.
- Ice Wine: Freezing out water to concentrate sweetness
- Recioto “Raisin” Wine: Air drying the grapes to concentrate sweetness
We don’t usually enjoy the boozy potency of ice wine but we really enjoyed the “recioto” style dessert wines at Colaneri and decided to purchase the 2010 Profondo Mistera Gewurztraminer (intense notes of lychee, floral and honey with a touch of grapefruit).
I can’t wait to go back to Colaneri Estate once phase two of construction is complete, including a second story walk-out patio! It’s going to be such a picturesque venue for weddings – go check it out now brides-to-be!
After two wonderful wine tastings, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon “walking it off” in the NOTL Heritage District along Queen Street. I adore this picturesque tourist strip, lined with historic hotels, antique shops, perfectly manicured gardens, horse-drawn carriages and the memorial clock tower setting the scene. We enjoyed lunch at the Irish Harp Pub, with Cows ice cream for dessert and a little window shopping.
Finally, before heading home, we spent some time down on the lakefront enjoying the view and the warm breeze! I wish we had more time to enjoy beautiful Niagara-on-the-Lake, but this just means we’ll have to come back again soon! To plan your trip, check out Niagara Tourism and Wine Country Ontario.