If there’s anything better than a cool glass of local Chardonnay on a perfect summer day, it’s several cool glasses of local Chardonnay on a perfect summer day.
If that sounds like your idea of heaven, then you should contemplate visiting some of Ontario’s impressive vineyards. You don’t need to fly to Napa Valley or the south of France to find some exquisite vino plus scenery; there’s plenty right in your own backyard.
Here’s all you need to know about our Top 10, can’t-miss wineries in southern Ontario.
(NOTE: All times listed are for summer. See winery websites for off-season hours.)
10 Ontario vineyards you need to visit this summer
Peller EstatesWhere it's at: Niagara-on-the-Lake
Who will love it: Foodies are well-served by the estate's CAA four-diamond restaurant.
What to drink: “Red heads” will love the estate's 1 p.m. daily samplings of big, bold reds.
How to book: See Peller Estate's bookings page for details.Peller Estates
Riverbend Inn & VineyardWhere it's at: Niagara-on-the-Lake
Who will love it: People who like the comforts of stately Georgian mansions.
What to drink: Riverbend Inn's winery makes chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, sauvignon blanc and vidal icewine VQA.
How to book: See Reif Estate Winery for more details.Ontario's Finest Inns
Henry of Pelham Family EstateWhere it's at: St. Catharines
Who will love it: Oyster fans and baco noir lovers will be smitten with the estate's oyster pairing and baco celebrations.
What to drink: Henry of Pelham boasts some of the best chardonnays you can find anywhere.
How to book: Visit the website for tour information.Henry of Pelham Family Estate
Jackson-Triggs WineryWhere it's at: Niagara-on-the-Lake
Who will love it: Fancy vinophiles will be pleased to learn that Jackson-Triggs has been named Best Canadian Winery multiple times.
What to drink: The winery boasts award-winners, including syrah, shiraz, and sauvignon blanc.
How to book: Tour times are listed on the website.Jackson-Triggs Winery
Southbrook VineyardsWhere it's at: Niagara-on-the-Lake
Who will love it: Suckers for scenery, vinophiles with a penchant for biodynamic wines.
What to drink: Cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc are Southbrook's best.
How to book: See Southbrook Vineyards' tour schedule.Southbrook Vineyards
Norman HardieWhere it's at: Wellington
Who will love it: Toronto residents over the whole Niagara thing are coming in droves.
What to drink: Chardonnay drinkers should visit in July when the estate celebrates the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Association.
How to book: Check the website for details.Norman Hardie
Hidden BenchWhere it's at: Beamsville
Who will love it: Drivers from the GTA will like that Beamsville is a half-hour closer to Toronto than Niagara-on-the-Lake. Take that, QEW!
What to drink: Hidden Bench's La Brunante 2010, a bordeaux-style blend, is exceptional.
How to book: Contact Hidden Bench directly for tour information.Hidden Bench
Closson Chase VineyardsWhere it's at: Hillier
Who will love it: It's a good choice for visitors who pride themselves on knowing what's cool before it's cool (but you already knew that).
What to drink: Closson Chase specializes in chardonnays and pinot noirs.
How to book: See its events page for dinner tastings.Closson Chase Vineyards
Angel's GateWhere it's at: Lincoln
Who will love it: Sunday visitors can pretend they're going to church, since the winery is housed in a mission-style building.
What to drink: Award-winning sauvignon blancs, pinot noirs, chardonnays and merlots.
How to book: Check its website for details.Angel's Gate
Redstone WineryWhere it's at: Beamsville
Who will love it: There are oyster shuckings, and locovores can enjoy locally-inspired dinners all summer long.
What to drink: Chardonnay, gewürztraminer, riesling and sparkling white are all on offer.
How to book: See the Redstone website for booking details.Redstone Winery