When traveling, I just LOVE going on food tours. On my trip to Niagara Falls – when I found a tour that included food, beer and wine – I was all in!
Niagara Vintage Wine Tours operates the “Epic” Niagara Food, Beer and Wine Tour. This is an all day tour that starts at 9:00-10:00am (depending on your pick-up) and ends around 5:00pm. The tour includes 4 wineries and 1 micro-brewery, along with food paired to the tastings.
Around 9:15am we were picked up at the Sheraton on the Falls by our guide Chris. We were the first group , and we had 2 other stops before starting our tour. There was only 7 of us, so it was a nice intimate tour.
Our first stop was Pondview Winery. Our tasting guide gave us a thorough background on the history of the winery before we started our tasting. Included in this tasting was a charcuterie board with meats and cheeses. We started off with a “Lot 74” Sparkling Brut which was a very tasty sparkling wine. Next was a Bella Terra Chardonnay, which she suggested we try with the brie – which really brought out the creaminess of the wine. Then it was on to the Bella Terra Cabernet Franc, which we had with an old cheddar. I found the Cabernet Franc to be very nice. We then paired a Bella Terra Cabernet Sauvignon with some of the charcuterie meats, which was really complimentary to the wine. Finally, we had some Vidal Icewine with some fruit (which I liked) and with some blue cheese (which I didn’t like so much). I could see how a sweet/salty combination of the wine & blue cheese would work, but as I am not a big fan of blue cheese in general, it just wasn’t my thing.
Our next stop was Silversmith Brewing Company, which was situated in an old Anglican church. We were given generous samples of 4 types of beer – Bavarian Wheat Breakfast, The Black Lager, Hill 145 Golden Ale and Dam Buster English Pale Ale. To accompany the beer. we had a grilled cheese sandwich on marble bread with a coleslaw and a tomato chutney. The chutney was really tasty, and we were told that they were going to start selling it soon, but it wasn’t available quite yet. Too bad, as I would’ve definitely bought some if I could.
After the brewery, we were back to the wine with a stop at Rancourt Winery. Before going in to sample the wine, Chris took us into the vineyard to provide details on how the grapes are actually grown. It was amazing how much knowledge Chris had regarding wine. We then went into a private tasting room to sample a few different wines. We started with the Noble Blanc as a taster. Our next wine was a Chardonnay Reserve, which they suggested we try with our stick of cheese bread, and it was very tasty. Then we tried a Merlot – which went well with the acidic salads. Finally, we had a Cabernet Franc with our meat pie – which was a delicious pairing. Just before leaving, they also offered up a tasting of their Rose wine – which isn’t as sweet as most, and would be a good summer wine.
Our fourth stop was Jackson Triggs Winery. We did not have any food pairings at this winery, but we were given a tour of the facility along with some wine tastings throughout the tour. We started with their Entourage Grand Reserve Brut sparkling wine in the lobby area of the winery. Then we went upstairs to see the storage vats and tried a White Meritage. We were taken down into the cask room where we had some Shiraz and finally some Vidal Icewine to finish. It was at this point that I was almost wined out, but we still had one more stop to make.
Our final winery was Between the Lines Winery. We were taken into a private room where started with their Origin Sparkling Wine in a can. The sparkling wine was pretty good, and having it in a can would be incredibly convenient. Too bad more sparkling wines aren’t sold this way!
We then sampled some Chardonnay Reserve, a Rose, a Meritage Reserve, their Izumi Red (which is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir). We finished the tasting with a pairing of a Vidal Icewine and a pana cotta dessert. Before leaving, we were also offered a taste of their Cabernet Franc Icewine, which was also very nice. But to be honest, at this point I was full of wine and food, and probably didn’t appreciate the flavours as much as I should have.
The tour was very well run, and Chris was an excellent guide. It was a well thought out tour with a good selection of food and beverages to give you a flavour of the Niagara region. For myself personally, I probably didn’t need the final winery as I had more than enough wine by that time. But, I did enjoy the tour immensely and would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting the Niagara region.