CANADA | Niagara On The Lake

Someone said drink the water, but I will drink the wine. Someone said take a poor man, the rich don’t have a dime. Go fool yourself, if you will, I just haven’t got the time. I’ll give you back your water, and I will take the wine.
— Frank Sinatra


Peller Estates Winery in Niagara-on-the-lake was one of the grandest vineyards in the region. As we pulled into the estate we were greeted with a long road stretched from north to south with grape vines. We followed them into the grounds and realized the main house, Peller Estates, was literally surrounded by acres and acres of grapes.  We later found out that they share these grapes with a few other wineries, their sister vineyards, in the region.

Peller Estate Vineyards Entrance

Peller Estate Vineyards Entrance

 Walking into the estate feels like you are walking into a grand home with a library (tasting room) and a kitchen (chef renowned restaurant).  We were directed on our tour to pass through the backdoors and exit to the back of the property where the view was a backyard pano full of grape vines.  The sun was hot and bright and I could tell that this wine was going to taste really good on a hot summers day.

First, we popped a bottle of their award winning Ice Cuvée Classic which was the perfect start to a guide to their best wines.  It was crisp, bubbly and completely refreshing. We definitely bought a bottle of it to celebrate a future unknown occasion!

Then, we walked over to the vineyards where they explained the process of cultivation, from the soil needed for each wine, when to pick the grapes for each wine, and the region as a whole.  This is where I feel like we learned the most about the process of wine making, specifically in the Canadian niagara area. 

After enjoying the scenery and learning about the process that goes into making such amazing wine, we venture into one of their barrel cellars where they keep the wine while its in its "prepping" process.  It was dark and cold and filled with tons and tons of barrels that, yes, all were filled with wine! One of these barrels makes 300 bottles of wine and we were surrounded by easily more than 100 barrels. This is where he explained what the barrels do in the process and what each barrel stands for with it's numbering and lettering.  This part was really interesting because its the point of the process that really you don't necessarily hear much about.  Some barrels are smoked on the inside and the wine literally burns and breaks it down which gives the wine a smokier flavor to it.  Here, we tasted a red wine (sadly I don't recall which one).  We swirled, sniffed and sipped the wine to then be given a Brix dark chocolate for pairing. The chocolate helps make the red wine smoother while tasting.  Our tour was full of people but one girl in particular worked at a wine shop and seemed to be very knowledgeable of the wines in the Niagara region. She taught us how to "rinse" your mouth with the wine to bring out all the flavors because it hits every taste bud differently in your mouth.  She then showed us how to "slurp" the wine, which to me was very weird but apparently it helps do the same thing your decanter would do with the oxygen in the wine.

Fun little fact:  When swirling your wine, watch out for the marks on your glass after it settles. Watch the drips or "legs" fall down your glass.  The slower and more "legs" there are the more alcohol content there is in that specific wine. Neat! (There was a joke made in there about wobbly knees and moving slow and being intoxicated.... I guess, you had to be there.)

We then were directed to throw heavy parkas on because we were going into a below 10 degree room where we would finally taste Niagara's famous ICEWINE. I had never experienced icewine (yes one word, not two. that's for fools) and have to say that they are so delicious! We tried one of the red icewines and it tasted very sweet and almost syrupy. You could definitely mix this wine into drinks like a lot of people recommend. This new ice room was definitely a marketing plot but totally fun and worth it! The entire room was filled with wall to wall ice and was a great place to taste the wine. 

We ended our tour with, of course, more tastings in their tasting room.  We bought the bottle of ice cuvee (basically champagne but it cannot be called that because its french) and a bottle of the oak aged icewine that we had tasted afterwards. 

We roamed around the property and was in awe of the grapes and their beauty up close.  I kept saying, lets grow a small vineyard in our backyard. HA! If only. After daydreaming, we sat outside on their patio and ate yummy food at their new grill. We also had more wine, duh!  

We were so happy it was such a beautiful day outside.  It truly made the vineyards come alive.  I highly recommend the Peller Estate Winery if you want to get to know the process and taste some incredible wine while doing so. Now, my mission is to figure out how to become a master and start working on a vineyard. Dream, that's all I do!