Among the endless things to do on a weekend, Canadians have no shortage of choices when it comes to winding down with a bottle of ice wine, cabernet franc, or buttery chardonnay. The Vintners Quality Alliance, which monitors Ontario’s appellation of origin system, lists the cool-climate Niagara Peninsula, rich terroir of Prince Edward County, and sunniest of the appellations, Lake Erie North Shore, as primary wine-growing regions along with multiple sub-appellations within each. And Wine Country Ontario, which promotes Ontario’s wine-growing regions, lists as many as 13 wineries to watch as emerging regions.
Where there is good wine, great food follows. Such is the case across culinary conscious Canada. Hundreds of Ontario wineries provide picturesque places for oenophiles to kick back, glass in hand. While the menus are ever changing, here are a few reasons to whisk yourself away to these top winery restaurants in Ontario this weekend.
Peller Estates Winery & Restaurant
To choose between slow-braised lamb, wild salmon, rabbit saddle, and entrees like potato-crusted beef with creamed leek, jalapeño, and ramp pico de gallo or ice wine-glazed squab with scallion gnocchi seems unfair – especially when one of the must-have signature dishes at Peller Estates Winery & Restaurant is the lobster linguini, prepared with hand-rolled black truffle linguini, ice wine-poached lobster, smoked bacon, and Sur Lie Chardonnay cream sauce. A dish is only as good as its garnishes and Peller knocks it out with these, too, in things like grilled fiddleheads, crispy escargot, and beetroot tuile. Peller Estates Winery & Restaurant is a destination with lots of dining event choices like Sunday harvest dinners, garden dinners, and barbecue dinners. In Canada, there’s no need to wait for dessert to indulge in a glass of ice wine. Save some time to hang out at the 10Below Icewine Lounge at Peller. There’s nothing like tasting ice wine in minus-10 degrees Celsius surrounded by ice like the winemakers must endure to harvest the grapes. Make a reservation at Peller Estates Winery Restaurant.
Oxley Estate Winery Restaurant
On the north shore of Lake Erie, south of Harrow and east of Colchester, Oxley Estate Winery is a lesson in why small batch wines are so special. This County Road 50 winery is home to the ultimate hangout, a renovated barn that dates back to 1920 and a wine garden patio with wood-burning fireplace. But Oxley Estate Winery is also esteemed for its wow-factor yet unpretentious cuisine. Known for the sticky pickled duck wings with honey and Szechuan vinaigrette, sugared chiles, and radish scallion salad, Oxley’s culinary team presents an inventive take on old favorites. Try the Arctic char with roesti and house garlic sausage and angolotti with peas, smoked radish, brie, smoked tomato butter, and frisée. Make a reservation at Oxley Estate Winery Restaurant.
Ravine Vineyard Winery Restaurant
On land owned by the Lowrey-Harber family for five generations since 1867, this St. Davids Ravine Vineyard Winery is a 34-acre retreat. Family ancestors grew cherries, pears, peaches, grapes, plums, and vegetables on this Niagara Peninsula land, making it ideal for wine production. These organic vineyards and winery make up an inviting place to sprawl out and get ready for wood oven-baked pizza, salmon steak, or butcher’s board of charcuterie, along with produce from the kitchen garden. On the patio overlooking the chardonnay vines, Ravine is an ever-popular gathering spot to hear local artists and sample wines and Lowrey Bros. Hard Cider on tap. Stop by Ravine’s own grocery store for Niagara jams, pickles, sauces, and canned whole fruits and veggies. Make a reservation at Ravine Vineyard Winery Restaurant.
Trius Winery Restaurant
Falling in love is as easy as ordering the ice wine-cured and smoked salmon with goat’s cheese croquettes at Trius Winery & Restaurant – just save room for the Ontario mushroom collection with ice wine onion jam, he Atlantic halibut, and the confit duck leg with fondant potato, red wine cherries, duck liver parfait, and chocolate crumble. Vegetarians love this winery for tasty entrees like fresh chick pea falafel with Ontario mozzarella garnished with crispy fried chick peas. All that said, perhaps nothing can top this winery’s Trius Hero platter – with chicken liver parfait, sopressata, salmon rillettes, hen’s egg, pig head terrine, elk summer sausage, and aged Ontario cheddar and other such treats. Before dinner, take part in Trius’s Art of the Blend during which guests learn about blending red wines in the winery’s underground barrel cellar, a sample of which they get to take home in their own custom blended wine. For extra fun, try the black glass tasting, a secret wine pairing disguised in opaque black stemware sure to test any oenophile’s palate. Make a reservation at Trius Winery Restaurant.