ende
ende
menu
ende

You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Niagara Falls #Winelover Trip near Toronto, Ontario


Gourmet Travel, Travel With Locals, Travel Videos, Canada, North America, Travel Blog , , 0

Table of Contents

“Oh, Canada. Eh!”

Reaching Niagara Falls, just about an hour’s drive south from Toronto, in the wake of my 33rd birthday has me sigh with delight. By now, I would have spent almost six weeks travelling in the fantastic land of great poets, adventurous spirits and naturally warm-hearted people. Oh Canada. Eh! And it’s not just me who says that. Repeatedly, the one-of-a-kind dinner & theatre show “Oh Canada. Eh!” has been voted the #1 activity on TripAdvisor by travellers to Niagara Falls, and I am glad I got a chance to attend and see the fab team perform. What a way to spend your birthday in style, and be introduced to all the Niagara Falls region has to offer …

... presented through the oracle of a fab food & dinner show such as this one, here at Niagara Falls ...

… presented through the oracle of a fab food & dinner show such as this one, here at Niagara Falls …

 

... where this team wins my heart and respect, doubling as waiters, stand-up comedians, professional singers, dancers & performers on various occasions throughout the three-hour dinner & theatre performance on all things Canada: "Oh Canada, Eh"!

… where this team wins my heart and respect, doubling as waiters, stand-up comedians, professional singers, dancers & performers on various occasions throughout the three-hour dinner & theatre performance on all things Canada: “Oh Canada, Eh”!

 

There is so much more to beautiful Niagara Falls, and Niagara-on-the-Lake though, than meets the (immediate) eye of a visitor to one of the most iconic tourism spots in Canada. Consider soaring through the skies, for instance …

… and take a once-in-a-lifetime flight with Niagara Helicopters that stretches your views across a seemingly endless horizon – and right down and into the famous Falls. WOW. Niagara Falls are actually comprised of “two falls”, both of them clearly visible from the air and as you take a cruise on the Niagara River. At the local IMAX theatre, we learn that “Niagara” means “Thundering Waters” in the tongue of the indigenous people, and that ever since human settlement took place, the Falls commanded respect and encouraged daredevil endeavours to control and/or pass them. Yes, some people (have been able to) survive a “fall off the Falls”, but I wouldn’t take the stories too lightly … After all, flying over, zip lining next to the Falls as well as cruising right up to them still commands a lot of respect, and awe, for this natural wonder of a kind today. Check this out.

Getting ready for a rush of adrenaline: Niagara Helicopters take you on a twelve-minute airborne flight experience ...

Getting ready for a rush of adrenaline: Niagara Helicopters take you on an exactly-timed, twelve-minute airborne flight experience …

 

... featuring personal commentary over an imposing sight such as this one: Niagara Falls right at the border between Canada and the United States.

… featuring personal commentary over an imposing sight such as this one: Niagara Falls right at the border between Canada and the United States.

 

Next up / next thing we know, we are on a beautiful cruise with Hornblower Cruise company ...

Next up / next thing we know, we are on a beautiful cruise with Hornblower Cruise company …

 

... a Niagara Falls cruise ship company that dresses you "in style" for the adventure that lies waiting ...

… a Niagara Falls cruise ship company that dresses you “in style” for the adventure that lies waiting …

 

... wet and wild, cruising right into the famous Horseshoe bend of Niagara Falls.!

… wet and wild, as you cruise right into the famous Horseshoe bend of Niagara Falls.!

 

If you are still up for a little more of an adventure, consider getting on the Zip Line, an attraction that opened as recent as spring 2016 ...

If you are still up for more adventure, consider getting on a zip line with WildPlay Niagara Falls, an attraction that opened as recent as spring 2016 …

 

... where "zipping down the Falls", alongside their canyon wall to the other side, offers you spectacular views of the natural environment during the one-minute zip down the 700 metre cable. Loved it !!!

… where “zipping down the Falls”, alongside their opposite canyon wall, offers you spectacular views of the natural environment during the one-minute zip down the 700 metre cable. Loved it !!! WildPlay also offers a photo link to any snapshot of you in action you wish to buy, a great service for creating unique memories.

 

Niagara Falls ...

Niagara Falls …

 

... your beauty has really touched me there.

… your beauty has really touched me there.

 

If after all this initial excitement you feel (just as) hungry as we do, here are some nice little #foodlover stops on the way.

What do you do in a place with less than 24 hours at your hands, but still with an appetite to experience the best you can possibly eat? That’s right: You ask the local people for tips. Lindsay Di Cosimo, at WildPlay Niagara for instance, recommends us to head out for Paris Crepes Café, as do our friends from Toronto recommend us to go & eat at Detour Café in Dundas, about halfway between Toronto & Niagara Falls. Ready to sink your teeth into delicious, healthy food options? Here they come …

... what with especially Detour Café being a local favourite of mine, mostly for their choice of tasty, healthy vegetarian dishes ...

… what with especially Detour Café being a local favourite of mine, mostly for their choice of tasty, healthy vegetarian dishes …

 

... but so is Little Paris Café right inside downtown Niagara Falls, offering tasty "galettes" (savoury Crêpes) in an original, French style with a local twist.

… but so is Paris Crepes Café right inside downtown Niagara Falls, offering tasty “galettes” (savoury Crêpes) in an original, French style with a local twist.

 

Still hungry? If you are headed for some of Niagara Falls' better known wineries on your visit, check out Reif Estate Winery which offers a delicious "wine & cheese" pairing tasting ...

Still hungry? If you are headed for some of Niagara Falls’ better known wineries on your visit, check out Reif Estate Winery which offers a delicious “wine & cheese” pairing tasting …

 

... and last but not least, we recommend you to head to "The Garrison House", an absolute local, favourite tip in Niagara-on-the-Lake that satisfied our taste buds to the fullest!

… and last but not least, we recommend you to head to “The Garrison House”, an absolute local, favourite tip in Niagara-on-the-Lake that satisfied our taste buds to the fullest!

 

Speaking of local tips: Where would you go & stay in a region as beautiful as, and with as many options offered as Niagara Falls?

Although we only stayed in Niagara Falls for two nights, we decided to try two accommodation options quite different in type and style so as to experience the most of what this area has to offer to international wine & food lovers as ourselves.

The Old Stone Inn has the advantage of being located right inside Niagara Falls town, offering a quaint, historic atmosphere within walking distance of most of the local attractions nearby ...

The Old Stone Inn has the advantage of being located right inside Niagara Falls town, offering a quaint, historic atmosphere within walking distance of most of the local attractions nearby …

 

... whereas the Grand Victorian Inn Bed & Breakfast ...

… whereas the Grand Victorian Inn Bed & Breakfast …

 

... offers an appealing, European-style ...

… offers an appealing, European-style …

 

... guest house with a lot of attention to detail given their

… and very elegant Bed & Breakfast with a lot of attention to detail given their 150 years of history, and careful sourcing of Eva & Klaus (the owners) of every single item of furniture and equipment. Love how sweet, and welcoming, both of them are!

 

And breakfast: Perhaps the healthiest, most complete and diverse breakfast selection I have ever seen on this trip across Canada. Just love it! Do make a point if you fancy all the perks of a wonderful Bed & Breakfast in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

And breakfast: Perhaps the healthiest, most complete and diverse breakfast selection I have ever seen on this trip across Canada. Just love it! Do make a point if you fancy all the perks of a wonderful Bed & Breakfast in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

 

Ready, set, go, for the “Grand Finale” in all my recommendations about Niagara Falls for you: A handpicked selection of interesting wineries to go to for a tour on the local area history, geography, climate, pioneer spirit & WINES, of course!

The Niagara Falls wine region, one out of three wine growing regions in the whole of the Ontario province, includes about 10.000 acres of grape plantations and sits at about 43° latitude North (hence much further south than for instance the equally large wine growing area of the Okanagan, in British Columbia). There are six main varieties grown here: Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris as well as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Gamay Noir (known as Beaujolais in France). Just as with the VQA label in British Columbia, the (wine) province of Ontario focuses on quality wine production distinguished by the “Ontario VQA – Vintner Quality Association” label for all of its three wine growing regions Niagara, Prince Edward County, and Windsor South, or Lake Erie. (Must make a point of visiting them at some stage, too!).

Niagara-on-the-Lake, the township gateway for exploring Niagara wineries, sits right at the mouth water of the Niagara River into Lake Ontario, which on clear days appears like a sea ...

Niagara-on-the-Lake, the township gateway for exploring Niagara wineries, sits right at the mouth water of the Niagara River into Lake Ontario, which on clear days appears like a beautiful, gigantic sea …

 

... it is here where some of Canada's best (ice) wines are grown ...

… it is here where some of Canada’s best (ice) wines are grown …

 

... and following our #winelover visit of Niagara Falls, let me tell you more about their interesting story.

… and following our #winelover visit of Niagara Falls, let me tell you more about the interesting local story that lies embedded in the many lines of vineyards grown here.

 

Château des Charmes“, where we start off our exploration of the Niagara wine growing area, is the second oldest wine estate in the area. It produces 60.000 cases, or roughly half a million litres, a year on a growing area of about 280 acres. And that is (just) four large vineyards we are talking: Very much a “New World phenomenon”, if you ask me!

Altogether, 14 different grape varieties are turned into 32 wines, out of which two are really outstanding: The Aligoté white wine as well as the so-called Gamay Noir Doix, which corresponds to a type of Beaujolais grape. For the latter, Château des Charmes is the largest supplier in North America! Overall, the wine estate produces a lot more red than white wine due to a little greenhouse effect from the nearby lake and Niagara Escarpment hill. For ageing their red wines, the winery imports 2000 gallon casks from France as well as natural cork from Portugal. Over the past two years, there have also been successful sales with three different types of sparkling wines.

Our taste buds step up to a new type of wine tasting experience ...

Our taste buds step up to a new type of wine tasting experience, what with all of these “new Canadian varieties” to our European-trained taste buds …

 

... and as we continue our visit at Trius Winery ...

… and as we continue our visit at Trius Winery, well known for their “Trius Divine White”, a unique Riesling, Pinot Gris & Chardonnay blend …

 

... and later Inniskillin, the area's oldest wine estate dating back to the early 1970s, we learn that most wineries are very, if not mainly, renowned for making some of Canada's best ice wine, sold & exported the world over.

… and later Inniskillin, the area’s oldest wine estate in Niagara dating back to the early 1970s, we learn that most wineries are very, if not mainly, renowned for making some of Canada’s best ice wine, sold & exported the world over. Cheers #winelover!

 

The Inniskillin Niagara Estate Winery especially, is famous for their ice wine, which they produce mostly of Riesling grapes. Almost half of their ice wine production is sold in 70 different countries, and 40 different airlines: You are bound to see them somewhere on your trips! Compared to other wineries, they have “just” 20 acres of vineyards onsite, but purchase grapes from up to 100 producers more.

Reif & Konzelmann Estates, again some of the oldest wineries established in Niagara, are definitely a must-see (and taste) for all those of you with an inclination for German/Austrian wine growing, as in my case being from the Kamptal wine growing valley in Lower Austria.

Reif estate, for instance, is the largest estate winery in the Niagara region, covering more than 100 acres of “backyard vineyards” alone. They have helped to create the first ice wines, as well as to establish the VQA Quality label for Ontario after the AOC label in France. When you go, definitely opt for their “Terroir & Cheese Tasting“, focusing on a lavish expanse of beautiful wine & cheese pairings. There is Meritage (a Sauvignon Blanc & Sémillon blend) served with nettle Gouda, Pinot Noir paired with a more spicy Gouda in order to reel back in the roundedness of the traditional Pinot noir wine, Merlot offered with a three-year-old Gouda, ice wine (vanilla, spice, smoke & honey toffee flavours) paired with blue cheese. Mmmh! I’ve got all the flavours back on my palate and in my nose as we speak – and you? 🙂

Upon entering Reif Estate Winery, just next doors with our accommodation for the night, the Grand Victorian Inn Bed & Breakfast ...

Upon entering Reif Estate Winery, just next doors with our accommodation for the night, the Grand Victorian Inn Bed & Breakfast …

 

... we are greeted by young, passionate & very knowledgeable #winelover expert Rob, who runs us by the tasty flavours of the estate's beautiful "Terroir & Cheese Tasting" ...

… we are greeted by young, passionate & very knowledgeable #winelover expert Rob, who runs us by the tasty flavours of the estate’s beautiful “Terroir & Cheese Tasting” …

 

Still hungry? If you are headed for some of Niagara Falls' better known wineries on your visit, check out Reif Estate Winery which offers a delicious "wine & cheese" pairing tasting ...

… still an all-time favourite of mine for any visit to the Niagara wine growing area. “Preference is subjective, but quality will be appreciated across all backgrounds and (wine) beliefs”, Rob mentions. True that, dear Rob! Loved your “Magician” wine, too!

 

Last but not least, head over to Konzelmann Estate where guided tours around the cellar, vineyard & tasting room take place each hour ...

Last but not least, head over to Konzelmann Estate where guided tours around the cellar, vineyard & tasting room take place each hour taking you around their 27 grape varieties / 35 different wines grown there …

 

... where ...

… where small, concentrated flavours pair the knowledge you receive in the tasting, including favourite (Austrian) varieties such as Gewürztraminer and Zweigelt …

 

... thank you so much, dear #winelover friends, for such a wonderful, warm-hearted & winesome

… thank you so much, dear #winelover friends, for such a wonderful, warm-hearted & winesome experience we’ve had! Kudos to all your efforts, dear Angelo Pavan, at Cave Springs Winery here – another outstanding wine estate you should definitely put on your #winelover visit to Niagara.

 

More travel photos & recommendations on what to see & do around Niagara Falls can be found looking here:

 

I have also produced a travel video that highlights some of my travel adventures in Western Canada, all the way from Vancouver to the vast open plains east of the Rocky Mountains. A fascinating, funky take on what has truly been a life-changing journey. Enjoy with sound & smile 🙂

 

Disclaimer: I have been supported on this trip to Niagara Falls by Niagara Falls Tourism & partners. All opinions are my own.

Spread the love

Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
#VIARail Train Travelling across Western Canada: Travel Tips, Insights & Advice.
Food-Touring Toronto: St. Lawrence Market, #KensingtonKrawl & Evergreen Brickworks

3 Comments

  1. Jennifer McGregor

    Excellent trip to Niagara Falls, love all the pictures and your commentary! Thank you for coming to explore our beautiful area so creatively!

    Reply
    • Elena

      Dear Jennifer,

      Thank YOU for helping to make it all possible in the first place. You and your team have worked hard to provide us with only the best sample of what we could have experienced around Niagara Falls, and happy to hear you appreciate it so much.

      We shall forever treasure our creative trip there and hopefully be returning some day soon!

      Meanwhile, all the best and warm hugs,

      Elena

      Reply
  2. Rose Ann MacGillivray

    Great post and photos. I caught the last of the warm weather last week and drove from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Niagara Falls, stopping at many attractions along the way. I posted my blog yesterday. Check it out when you have a chance: http://boomervoice.ca/niagara-falls/
    Many thanks
    Rose Ann MacGillivray
    boomervoice.ca

    Reply

Leave a Reply


Follow me on my travels: