Hope the weekend treated you to some much needed rest, decadent food, and, of course, some heavenly wine, because let’s face it, life is much too short to drink mediocre wine (Can I get an Amen?). While my skills primarily lie in the drinking of wine (Real Bartender talk here), rather than being an actual Sommelier, nonetheless, I’ll be sharing the details of my getaway with J to the Ontario Wine Country.
Where We Stayed
When doing my research, and I do it to the point that it either A) annoys J or B) overwhelms me with information that I have to start making excel spreadsheets or charts (which ever point comes first), I tend to focus most on the location: walking-distance to everything, while avoiding the crowds and unnecessary noise. Hence, our top choice being The Charles Hotel. J and I were able to access restaurants, bars, and shops on foot during the day, while getting the much needed relaxation at night, as the hotel was also located near the lake and the golf course. Location aside, we found the staff to be professional and knowledgeable, the property to be historic and luxurious, the rooms to be iconic and comfortable, and the HobNob restaurant to be absolutely phenomenal (Enjoy the Pan Seared Chinook Salmon for dinner and Fries with House Made Truffle Aioli for room service).
Side note: Expect Toronto prices, as well as corresponding room sizes.
Where We Wined
A definite must for an afternoon tour, followed by lunch on the patio overlooking the beautiful property and the vineyard. Highly recommend the Trius Hero’s Plate to share, Lake Huron White Fish and Heritage Mennonite Chicken as the mains. White wine pairing was excellent, as the Sommelier was knowledgable and accommodating.
A fine dining favourite. The tour package and dinner reservations, pre-booked online the day before as this is a popular winery and tour, included our favourite tour to the 10Below Icewine Lounge, where we tasted Icewine while surrounded by ice walls, sitting on ice furniture, admiring ice sculptures, and being served at the ice bar… (You get the picture. My born-in-Siberia senses were tingling!) Similarly, we highly recommend allowing Chef Jason Parsons to take you on a culinary adventure by indulging in a Five Course Tasting menu for dinner, where the local and season-inspired menu items are carefully crafted and paired with Peller wines to create a unique and memorable dining experience. Note: While not for the picky eaters (ahem, J), they were very accommodating in substituting certain items such as raw meats, duck, and smoked salmon, all which were flavourful and scrumptious to me, but may not be preferred by others’ (ahem, J).
While the vines are still in the newborn stage and the acreage is only beginning to expand, the design and ambiance are sleek and modern. The wine tour includes historical facts about the Gretzky family and excellent wine poured straight from a barrel. While not whisky enthusiasts, the Whisky Bartender Tour appeared to be interactive and fun, and conducted outside, where you could complete your experience with a BBQ lunch.
Side note: We visited all of these via Uber ($12-18/trip) and within the same day. Even managed to squeeze in a tipsy nap (Don’t judge, you and I both know those are better than regular naps).
- Bicycles: While weather- and attire-permitting, we would have loved to use them to explore the different wineries, but this year’s rainy summer did not leave us that option.
- Pillitteri Estates Winery: While not during this particular trip, I have had the pleasure of touring this passionate boutique winery, currently managed by their 5th generation family members, with a beautiful property and excellent Ice Wine.
- Vintage Wine Tours: Consider a half- or full-day trip if pressed for time or planning for a special occasion, as this team is knowledgable, accommodating, and has a quick response rate. Last year, with their help, I was able to organize a memorable birthday trip for my mother and a few of her friends, where we visited three wineries and enjoyed a 3-course gourmet and seasonally-inspired dinner (Winemakers Dinner Tour).
J and I hope that you have enjoyed the details of our local getaway, as well as the recommendations. If you require further information, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Stay tuned for more travel posts in the future. Next stop, Tobermory!
*All opinions and recommendations shared here are my own (and 20% J’s, but don’t tell him I said that).