12 Ontario Wineries You Have To Visit
Canada has become a globally-recognized wine producer, especially for some of our cool-climate Pinot Noirs and Rieslings. Ontario wine-growing areas are at the same latitude as such famous regions as Tuscany and Oregon, making our own backyard a great growing ground for delicious-tasting wines. While we are considered a cool climate wine region, our wine country in Niagara and Lake Erie have growing seasons warmer than such well known places as Napa and Burgundy.
Virtually all of Ontario's wineries are open for business again, allowing you to indulge in a glass of wine while taking in the beautiful surroundings. Wine tastings are usually available although most now require advance reservations due to current Covid restrictions.
We have listed a dozen wineries you should visit but there are over 140 wineries listed at www.winecountryontario.ca from all over the province.
Wineries in the GTA
Of the six wineries within an hour hour drive of Toronto, these two are very popular:
Adamo Estate Winery
Located in the beautiful Hockley Valley area near Orangeville, Adamo Estate focuses on organic and bio-dynamic wine making practices. They feature an attractive patio overlooking acres of rolling vineyards plus a tasting bar and retail shop. http://www.adamoestate.com
Willow Springs Winery
Located near Stouffville, Testa family-owned Willow Springs has been recognized as a pioneer in the Italian style of wine production and are well known for their award-winning variety of reds, whites and ice wines. The wine shop, tasting room and patio are surrounded by 11 acres of vineyards.
Wineries in the Collingwood Area
A formerly quiet ski town has exploded into a booming four-season resort anchored by both the traditional downtown area and Blue Mountain Resort. Each of these areas has a wide selection of bars, restaurants and retail shops. When you aren't golfing, hiking, biking, swimming or cycling, check out these two wineries just 15 minutes outside town.
Georgian Hills Vineyard
A scenic location overlooking Georgian Bay, Blue Mountains and Beaver Valley, the winery produces its own wines from locally grown cold climate varietals which it has been developing for ten years. Additionally, a collaboration with acclaimed winemaker Thomas Bachelder using grapes from the respected Wismer vineyards in Niagara has produced a line of well respected single varietals including Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The Roost Wine Company
Another scenic location in the Blue Mountains, this relatively new winery offers cold climate wine varietals such as L’Acadie, Marquette (a new VQA varietal) and Frontenac Blanc.
Snack on cheese and charcuterie in the beautifully refurbished 19th century barn which serves as the tasting room.
Wineries in Niagara Region
There are over 90 wineries in the Niagara region extending from Grimsby right to Niagara Falls itself, where Monastery Cellars (www.monasterycellars.com) actually overlooks the Falls. We've recommended three wineries in the region, but all you really need to do is get in your car and drive. The toughest decision will be where to stop first.
Reif Estate Winery
Founded by the Reif family in Niagara-on-the-Lake, this is one of the oldest (first vineyards planted in 1977) and most popular winery destinations situated very close to the Niagara River. Reif offers a broad variety of themed tastings and food pairings, so make sure to book ahead of time.
Peller Estates Winery & Restaurant
Founded over 50 years ago by the immigrant Andrew Peller, they have a broad portfolio of wines available for sale and tasting. If that's not enough, there is the Barrel House Grill, Winery Lounge and Restaurant to make sure you don’t leave hungry.
Wayne Gretzky Estates
With number 99 on the door you would expect something big, and this does not disappoint!
A brand new 23,000 square foot combined winery and distillery offers a wide range of drinks (both wine and whiskey) plus food and events so it's no surprise that this is a very popular destination.
Prince Edward County Wineries
A two hour drive east of Toronto, this rapidly emerging area now has nearly 40 wineries, taking advantage of limestone rich soils overlain by irregular topography, making for differing cultivation opportunities.
Like its more established Niagara counterpart, the region is beginning to see numerous restaurants, retail shops and boutiques springing up to serve the continuously increasing inflow of visitors.
Sandbanks Estate Winery
One of the first wineries in the region, Sandbanks is located along the picturesque shores of Lake Ontario and features outdoor tasting bars, picnic areas and tours. The winery has won numerous awards for its full bodied reds such as Baco Noir (Canada’s own answer to Shiraz) and crisp white Rieslings.
A wonderful setting featuring an 1805 post and beam barn which hosts wine tastings, food and wine pairings, plus an outdoor patio. Better still, Karlo has a wide variety of award-winning wines which underscore how quickly this region has risen to prominence in the wine world.
Wineries in the Ottawa Area
There is more than politics and politicians in the Ottawa area and, while there are only a couple of wineries, they are both fun destinations for day trips. Will it ever become a significant wine region? Hard to tell, let’s just keep an eye on it.
Jabulani Vineyard & Winery
Only a 30 minute drive from downtown Ottawa and a 4.5/5 rating on TripAdvisor, it could be the venue, wines, artisanal cheeses, super friendly hosts or all the above that make it one of the province's top wineries. The wines are an eclectic bunch (no pun intended) ranging from cold climate varietals through a strawberry wine, with more than 20 potables to choose from. Incidentally, “jabulani” is the Zulu word for “happiness,” reflecting the South African roots of the owner.
Founded in 1999 by local dairy farmer, Denis Perrault, this has grown into a significant enough family enterprise to also involve his wife Lyse and their two daughters. There is a broad range of wines from the conventional Merlots and Sauvignon Blancs plus numerous blends whose components are not readily identifiable, adventure awaits!
Wineries in Lake Erie North Shore
Canada has been producing wine for 200 years, but it was not until 1866 that commercial production commenced in the southernmost part of the country, Pelee Island, on the same latitude as Oregon. While Pelee Island Winery was established in 1979, it has only been in recent years that numerous other wineries have sprung up now numbering more than two dozen. Unfortunately, due to pandemic related restrictions, Pelee Island Winery is not offering tours or tastings currently.
Viewpointe Estate Winery
Located on the shore of Lake Erie, not only does Viewpointe boast panoramic views, but it also has expansive lawns, patios and galleries plus a Culinary Centre offering patio lunches focused on local ingredients. Their vineyards have a mix of conventional varietals like Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio, plus cooler climate wines such as Auxerrois.
Lake Huron Wineries
It is somewhat surprising that would-be winemakers have not been more active in taking advantage of the proximity of Lake Huron and its prevailing westerly winds to establish wineries here. While it is still early days, the region is showing early promise.
Dark Horse Estate Winery
Established in 2014 and located in rural Ontario but close to the bustling beach resort area of Grand Bend, the winery has an impressive modern 31,000 square foot facility.
There are patio and picnic areas plus wine and snacks available by the glass. We have not yet had an opportunity to sample their wines, but the passion of the owners and the commitment they have made tell us to expect great results.