As much as we would love to visit California wineries and winery restaurants, it's easy to forget we have lovely world-class wineries just across the border, where our neighbors to the north offer a more wallet-friendly (and convenient) experience.
If you are like us and your world revolves around food and drink, we cannot stress enough that if you haven't been to Canada's Niagara-on-the-Lake and the Twenty Valley wineries recently, make time this summer because the wineries celebrate seasonal food and wine — all at a high level.
And if you need another reason to visit, Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary, with some of the winery events centered around the celebration.
Here are highlights of summer events. All prices are Canadian, which means you'll be able to indulge at a discount.
Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery (1366 York Road, St. Davids) is a Niagara-on-the-Lake winery that features a variety of food and wine experiences. The farm also celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.
The winery's restaurant utilizes items from its garden and nearby farms. Events include a garden party (June 3), oyster fest (June 11) and two five-course 150th anniversary dinners that will celebrate the farm and Canadian anniversaries (July 29, Aug. 25). The winery says the dinners will be an “interactive food tour” of Canada.
Fall events to mark are the lobster boil (Sept. 8) and noble grape harvest (Oct. 7) where guests can “pick, learn, taste and eat.” The end of harvest party (Nov. 19) is for wine club members.
For spontaneous folks, live music on the back lawn is on Thursday, Friday and Sunday throughout summer, with casual food service at the outdoor pizza oven.
Peller Estates Winery & Restaurant (290 John Street East, Niagara-on-the-Lake) hosts many seasonal food inspired events. The Canada 150 Barbecue Anniversary Series will focus on each region: West Coast (June 24), Prairies (July 22), Ontario/Quebec (Aug. 5) and East Coast (Sept. 16). Cost is $89 per person.
The winery's Kitchen Table Lunches are held on select Saturdays (May 27, June 10 and 17, July 1, 8, 15 and 29 and Aug. 12). The cost is $110. Kitchen Table Dinners are the same dates (excluding July 15); $180. Both events give guests a front row seat to watch the culinary team prepare seasonal dishes that are paired with wine. (Lunch is four courses, dinner is seven.)
For spur of the moment folks, Vino & Cocoa (yes, wine and chocolate) is offered at 3 p.m. daily and twice on Friday through Sunday at 3 and 5 p.m. Grill & Chill is at noon and 2 p.m. at the outdoor grill that overlooks the vineyard. Enjoy three courses paired with wine. Both events are $25 each.
Throughout the summer, Trius Winery & Restaurant (1249 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake) will pair wine and a seasonally inspired three-course gourmet dinner with a movie. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. followed by the movie at sunset. Cost is $99. Here's the movie schedule: June 2, “La La Land”; June 9, “Rogue One”; June 16, “The Breakfast Club”; June 30, “Suicide Squad”; July 7, “Dirty Dancing” and July 14, “Logan.”
The stunning Jackson-Triggs Winery (2145 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake) was designed as a modern interpretation of a barn. The five-course Savour the Sights progressive dinners promise to take guests on an “gastronomic adventure” utilizing locally grown food, accompanied by wine. Cost is $157.65 per person, including gratuity. Dates are June 3, Sept. 16, Oct. 21, Nov. 18 and Dec. 9.
Two Sisters Vineyard's annual "A Journey Of Flavors" is Aug. 6. The afternoon event features wine and food pairings from the winery's Kitchen 76 Italian restaurant. Enjoy music influenced by Italy's coastal regions. Details and price to be determined.
In Niagara Ontario’s Twenty Valley area, Kacaba Vineyards & Winery (3550 King St, Lincoln), will host a Ribs & Reds event June 10-11 and June 17-18, followed by extended Canada Day food and wine pairings, July 1-3. The “Just for the Halibut” feast with Riesling is Aug. 19-20.
New for summer, Creekside Estate Winery (2170 Fourth Ave., Jordan Station), has opened “The Deck” which features the “In the Smoke Cookery” that melds barbecue with a rustic approach to preparing locally sourced food. The industrial Southern Pride smoker is at the heart of the operation. Live music rounds out the experience.
More places to check out...
For those with beer drinkers in tow (who might be grumbling at all the wine), we recommend the beer hall at Silversmith Brewing Company (1523 Niagara Stone Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake). Food and live entertainment are part of the experience.
While your friends are drinking beer, sneak across the street to grab a pie or two from the darling Pie Plate Bakery & Cafe (1516 Niagara Stone Road, Virgil). Although there are rules against bringing fresh fruits and vegetables across the border, we get around it with pies and tarts made from scratch using locally grown fruits.