Photo courtesy Peller Estates Winery and Restaurant
Contributor Chris Occhiuzzi shares this list of the top Niagara-on-the-Lake winery restaurants and experiences
Updated Jan 16, 2023 / Commissions may be earned from our affiliate partner links
Ontario’s wine country is chock full of vibrant vineyards featuring tremendous varietals which are picked and made into wonderful wines. Visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake just wouldn’t be fulfilling without enjoying a few wine tastings, vineyard tours, and foodie adventures along the way.
From estates seeped in European tradition and history to those with famous owners, and everything in between, the region has a little of something for everyone. Some of the very best experiences one can have include tours through the vines, which offer an opportunity to fully absorb the sights, smells, and sounds of a vineyard.
The Niagara Region is also home to some of Ontario’s top resorts and hotels, too. For ideas and tips about great places to stay, check out our feature stories on the best luxury hotels in Niagara Falls, as well as the top luxury hotels in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
To make planning your next trip, or maybe your next few trips, a little easier, we’ve put together this list of our picks for the top Niagara-on-the-Lake winery restaurants and experiences.
Top Niagara-on-the-Lake Winery Restaurants & Experiences
Strewn Winery’s ‘In The Vineyard’ tour is definitely one of the best Niagara-on-the-Lake winery experiences one can enjoy. This guided our allows guests to plunge themselves into the grapevines from which the best fruit is selected for one of Strewn’s wines. The 45-minute tour features a tasting by the vines, including a sampling of wine made with grapes picked in Strewn’s own vineyard.
Although the Vineyard Tour is a must-try, Strewn’s Winery offers other exceptional experiences to satisfy the palate. The Heritage Room experience is a 45-minute seated event where select wines are produced in a set order to allow each wine to build upon the previous one. Other experiences include tastings at the Terroir Bar, Main Bar, In the Courtyard, and On the Patio.
While visiting Strewn’s Winery, make sure to visit their onsite restaurant, the OLiV Tasting Room, Tapas Bar & Restaurant. Renowned for pairing wines and delicacies and rated one of the top Niagara-on-the-Lake winery restaurants, it’s a must-try dining experience for serious foodies.
This lovely 10-acre property, once home to a cannery in the 1940s and 1950s, is also home to Strewn’s Visitor Centre and Culinary School.
Learn more about Strewn’s Winery experiences at www.strewnwinery.com
Peller Estates Winery and Restaurant
A household name throughout Ontario and beyond, Peller Estates Winery and Restaurant takes wine tastings to another level. With several experiences to choose from, visiting Peller Estates is a must for both the discerning connoisseur and those looking for a fun time to share with friends.
As far as wine tours go, the Greatest Winery Tour is certainly a hit. The relaxed and appealing experience gives guests an all-encompassing tour of Peller Estates Winery. From the vineyard to the cellar, visitors absorb all the famous location has to offer. As a bonus, the tour takes its participants to the 10Below Icewine Lounge where you can sip icewine while resting on a chair carved from ice.
There are other experiences available to taste Peller Estates wine, including Peller’s Perfect Pairings where each of Peller’s Signature Series wines are paired with custom creations from their Executive Chef.
Speaking of the Chef, culinary delights are sure to please at The Winery, ranked one of the best Niagara-on-the-Lake winery restaurants. Or, when the weather is right, enjoy an al fresco meal on the patio at the Barrel House Grill.
Looking to make a Niagara weekend getaway of your Peller winery tour and dining experience? Book your next fun stay experience at neighboring Riverbend Inn & Vineyard.
Small Talk Vineyards
Over 200,000 visitors a year can’t possibly be wrong: a wine tour at Small Talk Vineyards is one of The Top Niagara-on-the-Lake Winery experiences around. Priding themselves as “the most fun, colourful, happy place in all of wine country,” this very welcoming vineyard was established in the late 1980s and now features an award-winning cidery.
Perhaps a little more intimate than some of the region’s larger wineries, there are some very unique experiences to be enjoyed here. Events such as the aptly named ‘goat yoga’ classes feature baby goats (yes, honestly!), trivia nights, and wine-fuelled art classes, to name a few, emphasize this point.
Small Talk features seven wines are made from the 11 grape varieties grown here, including three proprietary blends entitled Playdate: red, white, and rose.
Join the fun and visit https://smalltalkvineyards.com
Trius Winery & Restaurant
Be sure to savour the celebratory cuisine inspired by Niagara Wine Country at the Trius Winery Restaurant when visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake. An inviting dining room with a modern appeal but still full of warmth, it’s a wonderful place for a dinner out with your significant other. Visit again and bring friends to enjoy views of the vineyard from the Wine Garden.
Among the top Niagara-on-the-Lake restaurants, this house of culinary excellence is just one of the wonderful features at the Trius Winery & Restaurant. The winery itself offers interactive tours of the cellars, where guests will learn about Trius winemaking while leaving with a few insider tips about the best way to enjoy their wines.
Meanwhile, there are several tastings and tours to be had. To take things to the next level, go with The Trius Tour. A must for any art and wine lovers embarking on Niagara-on-the-Lake wine tours, it blends wine and art installations to make your senses pop. It’s an unforgettable experience, and one worthy of more than a few Instagram posts.
Learn more about what’s undoubtedly one of the best Niagra-on-the-Lake winery restaurants at www.triuswines.com.
Thinking of making a stay of it? The folks at Trius are also fans of Riverbend Inn & Vineyard and recommend this chic hotel for visitors wanting to linger longer.
Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery
Located in the St Davids area of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery first planted 500 grapevines in 1969. While one it is one of the oldest vineyards around, it didn’t open for public visits until 2008.
Be sure to embark on the ‘5 Generations Tour’. Stroll through the family farm to soak up the sights, sounds, and fragrances from the Ravine Garden where the resident rooster, Nugget, is waiting to say hi. Then it’s off to the organic vineyards before tasting four Ravine winery creations.
There’s also excellent cuisine to enjoy from The Restaurant at Ravine. This great Niagara restaurant prides itself in producing a fluid menu which uses ingredients from their own garden as well as farming friends from the area. They take the ‘garden to table’ mantra very seriously.
Intrigued? Well, learn more at www.ravinevineyard.com
Wayne Gretzky Estates
The vision of the most famous hockey player of all time, Wayne Gretzky Wine is well-worth taking the time to try. So, too, is taking a tour of Wayne Gretzky Estates.
Part winery, part distillery, this popular tourist spot also includes a fun whisky bar. It’s also home to No. 99 Craft Brewery, as well as a fun restaurant too. The Whisky Bar Patio is a great place to grab a bite in between, or during, tasting sessions.
To get the full winery experience, grab some friends and enjoy The Wine, Whisky & Beer Tour. This tour takes guests behind the scenes of the Great One’s dreams of opening the winery and distillery, as well as witnessing the hammer mill, copper stills, and other equipment.
In winter, bring your skates and take a spin around The Great One’s Backyard Rink. Anyone of drinking age, and especially hockey fans, will find something to enjoy.
Check out other fun facts and events at www.gretzkyestateswines.com
A passion which began in Germany has become a Canadian success story at the Caroline Cellars Family Estate Winery. This 50-acre vineyard was purchased by Rick and Frieda Lakeit in 1978, and fully opened as a winery in 2002.
Coming from a big European farming family with roots in Germany, Rick and Frieda passed along their love for farming and tending to a vineyard to their children. Today, each bottle of Caroline Cellars’ wine is the result of four generations of grape growing tradition, and there are now 21 selections to enjoy.
But visits to the property are about more than simply tasting their wine. The Farmhouse Café at Cellar Estates is one of the top Niagara-on-the-Lake winery restaurants going. Using local in-season ingredients and from their own on-site garden, the food is made with love and family in mind.
Learn more about this amazing location at www.carolinecellars.com
Pillitteri Estates Winery
Another Niagara-on-the-Lake vineyard and winery with European roots, Pillitteri Estates Winery is a truly family affair. Patriarch Gary Pillitteri’s early experiences tending grape vines in Sicily with his father and have clearly been passed along to his children and grandchildren, all of whom have worked at the winery at some point in their lives.
To soak up a bit of this history, take a tour of the winery, which includes a guided tour of the facility and a tasting of four wines. Better yet, while on the tour, the guide will learn about your wine interests to help select four varieties to sample.
The Pillitteri Winery restaurant, Barrelhead, is open seasonally during the warmer months. Featuring tradition Italian dishes with a few new twists, it’s a wonderful dining experience for all.
Find out more about their interesting history at www.pillitteri.com
Contributor Occhiuzzi is a staff writer at Dockside Publishing and founder of Muskoka Unlimited.
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