I am moving back to Toronto after 18 months abroad. I used to take pride is making all my Quebec friends and family discover quality Ontario wines to match fabulous Quebec cheeses... So after reading a nice summary post on good places to find fresh food in Toronto I was inspired to recycle an old email that I typically send to people if I don't have the time to accompany them. Again it's been almost two years since my last "Niagara Tour" so the information might be a bit obsolete but I can at least assure you that where I say it's good... I've tried it personally and many friends alike and... it's good! Actually more suggestions would really be welcome. The best part to remember about Ontario wineries is that if they are on the "official" wine route and or if there is parking for buses... DON'T GO. My best finds have always been word of mouth and places that are not advertised and that don't sell to the LCBO. By the way, Malivoire is always looking for people to pick grapes in January for their ice wine cuvée and I dream of the day I will go because dinner (and plenty of wine) is on the house and it is supposed to be a really wonderful experience. The downside is it has to be minus 8 Celsius for three days in a row so it is a bit unpredictable, especially if you have to sleep over (wine helping) and show up for work in Toronto the next day. Hope you like my suggestions and please make others... I am moving back in September.
*Lakeview Winery (excellent and cheap red gamay, impressive starboard) More into table wines...
4037 Cherry Avenue, Vineland http://www.lakeviewcellars.on.ca/
*Stratus (ultrapremium white and red - for the connaisseur) Haven't been yet but it is supposed to be already producing cult wines. Only winery on this list located in Niagara instead of Beamsville. Ask questions about architecture, etc.
2059 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara http://www.stratuswines.com/
*Lenko (premium everything, I recommend the Late Harvest Vintage similar to Ice wine for one third the price, the raspberry wine (similar to ice wine), the 2002 unoaked chard, and everything else you fancy). One of the best wineries of Ontario. Will run out of late harvest and raspberry VERY SOON
5246 King Street, Vineland http://www.daniellenko.com/
*Malivoire (excellent Gamay, chard, ice wine, rosemary cooking syrup, house signature rose is ok) One of the best wineries of Ontario as well.
4260 King Street, Vineland http://www.malivoirewineco.com
*Tawse (new kid on the block, opened spring 2005, ask for Brad and say Marjorie sent you, and taste those UNBELIEVABLE Chards (Beamsville Bench assemblage is best). Cabernet Franc very good as well but not for that price ($40). Incredible Riesling (the 2002 and 2003 Carly's Block" Estate ones. Ask questions about architecture, etc.
3955 Cherry Avenue, Vineland www.tawsewinery.ca
Featherstone (good reds, very young, promising winery - they have peppery wines)
3678 Victoria Avenue, Vineland http://www.featherstonewinery.ca
Marynissen (excellent reds to drink in 10 years for the collector)
RR6, Concession 1, Niagara on the Lake http://www.marynissen.com/
Ridgepoint (supposed to have amazing merlot but we were not allowed to taste)
3900 Cherry Avenue, Vineland http://www.ridgepointwines.com/
Kacaba (pronounce Kassaba - we have to go back to assess with a fresh palate - supposed to be premium winery)
3550 King Street, Vineland www.kacaba.com
Angels Gate (we were disappointed but it was our last stop so we have to go back there with a fresh palate as well)
4260 Mountainview Road, Beamsville http://www.angelsgatewinery.com
Thirteen Street (we positively cried of deception about their pinot but everyone else says they are to die for including Canoe, Jamie Kennedy, Susur, Rain, Luce, the Fifth, Harbour 360 and Avalon so I guess you be the judge)
3983 13th Street, Jordan Station http://www.13thstreetwines.com/
Flat Rock (terrible wine but worth the trip for the view and architecture and I think they will have a restaurant or something eventually)
*Vineland (Excellent wines, I love the Chenin Blanc and the Cab Sauv... Beautiful boutique, world-acclaimed restaurant (featured in Gourmet magazine) and now event 2 bed and breakfasts which are always sold out!
3620 Moyer Road, Vineland http://www.vineland.com/
*My personal recommendations