Sample reds and whites from the Niagara Escarpment and Niagara-on-the-Lake at revered vineyards in the region before crossing the border to the beautiful Finger Lakes. Here, we take in the fresh and zippy Rieslings the area is known for. From Syracuse Hancock International Airport, there are direct connections to all of the New York airports, so you can choose to stay longer if you wish.
North America’s size means that every kind of climate and landscape can be found there. From sleepy, rural towns to vibrant cities that buzz with activity, the lifestyles and culture on this continent are diverse and extensive. Experience a little of both on our exciting tour.
What better way to enjoy ice wine than with a food-pairing session, where you learn how to match its explosive fruit flavours and high sweetness with what’s on your plate. We also dine at wineries and restaurants alike, where menus change depending on what’s in season from local farms.
Canada’s often below-freezing temperatures mean that it’s the perfect location for ice wine, and we sample this treat among the very vineyards that produce it. Enjoy biodynamic whites from the slopes of the Niagara Escarpment and try its renowned dry wines.
Today we arrive into the vibrant metropolis of Toronto. We transfer to our hotel in the city and then, in the evening, we will enjoy our very first group dinner together.
We check out after breakfast and depart Toronto, making our way to the village of Jordan on the Niagara Escarpment. Our first visit is to Hidden Bench, which is certified organic. Here, owner Harold Thiel makes excellent wine from his vineyards in the sought after Beamsville Bench sub appellation. Rich limestone soils and low yielding vines produce, among other wines, excellent Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay. We tour their vineyards before our tasting. Our lunchtime visit is at Domaine Queylus, where Canadian trained wine-maker Kelly Mason utilises her experience gained under Burgundian winemakers to produce Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. There is also an excellent Merlot and Cabernet Franc. We taste these wines over a simple lunch. After, we check into our hotel in the small village of Jordan, where dinner tonight is included at its restaurant and will be accompanied by the wines of Cave Springs. Founded by the Pennachetti family from Italy over 30 years ago, Cave Springs were the first to plant Riesling and Chardonnay in the Niagara area. Today, production is 80% white wine with Riesling accounting for more than half of this. We will enjoy these delicious wines over dinner tonight.
Our first visit is to Tawse, which is a family-owned winery situated on the lower slopes of the Niagara Escarpment. Tawse has won the title of Canada’s Winery of the Year multiple times. From a modest six acres in 2001, Tawse now has over 200 acres. Viticulture and wine-making here follow organic and biodynamic principles. We will enjoy an introduction to the estate followed by a tasting. Our lunchtime appointment today is at Westcott Vineyards. Grant Westcott and Carolyn Hurst founded Westcott in 2008, originally with the idea of selling grapes to other wineries. Inspired by the success of their neighbours and impressed by the quality of wine being produced, they took the plunge and produced their first vintage in 2012. This is a lovely, family-run winery producing excellent wines, which we will enjoy over lunch. Return to the hotel and enjoy an independent evening. Dinner is not included tonight so you are free to explore on your own or join the Wine Guide or Tour Manager at their choice of restaurant.
This morning, we check out after breakfast and depart the village of Jordan to visit an ice wine specialist. Some of the world’s best ice wine comes from Canada; grapes are picked and pressed while still frozen, and a long, slow fermentation follows. The end result is an intensely sweet, lower alcohol wine. Lunch is at Trius Winery, which follows a farm to table philosophy and begin picking up awards after opening in 1989. Today, winemaker Craig McDonald makes a good range of wines, including some excellent sparkling wine – some of which we can taste over lunch. After, we check into our hotel in the small town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is situated on the shores of Lake Ontario.
We have a free morning for an optional visit to Niagara Falls. We depart late afternoon for a tasting at Stratus, housed in a stunning building in downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake. This is a gravity flow state-of-the-art winery where sustainability and environmental considerations are held in high regard. In 2005, Stratus became the world’s first LEED certified winery. There are small lots of Petit Verdot, Sangiovese and Tannat, as well larger plantings of Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay. Dinner is included tonight at a local restaurant.
Our day begins with a journey across the border to the Finger Lakes region in New York state. We arrive at Ravines Wine Cellars for a late lunch, then continue along the shore of Lake Seneca to Watkins Glen and our hotel for the next three nights. We have dinner together, over which there will be an introduction to the fabulous wines of the Finger Lakes.
Our first visit is to pioneers Dr Frank Konstantin on Lake Keuka. Dr Frank Konstantin is credited with beginning the Vinifera Revolution, which changed the face of grape-growing in the Finger Lakes and laid the foundations for the modern Finger Lakes wine industry that we see today. We will enjoy hearing historical tales of the estate over a tasting of their excellent wines, among which is an excellent sparkling, some outstanding Rieslings and even the Georgian grape, Saperavi! Lunch will be a simple picnic before we head to our afternoon tasting, which is at another of Lake Keuka’s excellent producers. The evening will be free to spend at leisure and we can return to our comfortable hotel at Watkins Glen.
Our first visit is to Hosmer. From humble beginnings with five acres of vines in 1973 on the slopes of Cayuga Lake, Hosmer now has over 70 acres. Its wine-making began back in 1985 and we hope to visit them this morning to hear their story as well as to taste their wines. Winemaker Julia Hoyle produces some excellent Rieslings, Cabernet Franc and Lemberge. After our tasting, we will have lunch at a nearby restaurant before returning to Watkins Glen where the rest of the afternoon and evening is free for you to relax. Maybe walk around the water or take a boat trip on Lake Seneca.
We check out today and travel to Syracuse Airport (USA), from where we begin our journey back to London. We will fly to London, arriving home on Tuesday morning. For those not taking our group flight, the tour will end at Syracuse Hancock International Airport.
With a degree in English and a rich CV in journalism and writing, Andrew Jefford is a revered and eloquent author. Combining his passion for writing with his love of wine, Andrew has written for the Evening Standard and has produced 12 books and guides on the subject, earning multiple distinctions for his work. Andrew knows the wine business inside and out, having worked as a fruit picker, a wine shop worker and - most recently - as a columnist for the Decanter website. He lives in Montpellier, France, and is a regular wine guide on a variety of Arblaster & Clarke tours.
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