Visiting a local winery is one of the most delicious ways to pass an hour or two in this region. You'll also see some of the best in new and innovative wine design, architecture, and viticulture. As with any major wine region, there are the big, commercial enterprises and the small, artisan ones. Lately, celebrities have joined the club (here, as elsewhere), so you can try wines with names such as Mike Weir, Wayne Gretzky, or Dan Aykroyd; mostly for the novelty, not the nose. Look for the VQA label: It identifies wines made with locally grown grapes. For maps of the area and information about vintners, contact the Wine Council of Ontario (tel. 905/684-8070; www.winesofontario.org). The wineries listed below are close to the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Tours are free. Prices for tastings vary with the winery and the wine you're sampling, but are usually about C$10.
If you turn off Hwy. 55 and go down York Road, you'll reach Château des Charmes, west of the town of St. David's (tel. 905/262-4219; www.chateaudescharmes.com). The winery was built to resemble a French manor house, and its architecture is unique in the region. One-hour tours are given daily. It's open from 10am to 6pm year-round.
To reach Stratus (2059 Niagara Stone Rd.; tel. 905/468-1806; www.konzelmann.ca), one of the region's more cutting-edge wineries with a focus on sustainable practices and eco-design, take Niagara Stone Road out of Niagara-on-the-Lake. This vintner is famous for its award-winning blends. Reservations are not required for tastings, but if you're traveling in a group of six or more, it's best to call in advance. Tours of the modern winery are by appointment only.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.