A trip to Niagara midweek via private train to sip on wine all day? I am a lucky girl indeed. Especially considering that this “work.”
The LCBO’s Media Relations Consultant Trina Hendry and Man About Town Suresh Doss hosted about 40 media folk, on a day trip to some of Ontario’s finest vineyards last Wednesday.
We left on a private VIA train from Union Station. On board we were treated to breakfast and coffee and got a chance to meet new people and catch up with old friends.
We arrived at St. Catharine’s station where we were to board one of two buses. We were handed cards on the train that would indicate what bus we’d take and what vineyard we’d visit. We weren’t told a thing and I think that was one of the hardest parts of the day for many folks – just letting go of control and allowing someone else to take charge. Me? I loved it. It was a nice mental break, as I’m usually the person juggling 10 things and hosting a large group of people.
My bus took us to Coyote’s Run Estate Winery where we sampled mostly white wines, with one red, and where I fell in love with Rosie (pictured below) whose owners run the winery. After a chilly morning of sitting outside swirling and swishing delightful whites from Coyote’s Run, Peninsula Ridge Estates and Vincor, we were whisked away for lunch.
Lunch was arranged by Suresh, who is also responsible for us Torontonians having food trucks at all (Thank you, Suresh). We had the choice of Gorilla Cheese and El Gastrónomo and many people had both. All that drinking required some hearty eating.
The tempura cod tacos were perfection and the batter was surprisingly spicy. I loved the cucumber slices and green onions on the kimchi steamed buns which added crunch to the sumptuous meat. We enjoyed all of this at Creekside Winery where we were educated about their wines while we drank them. And drank them. We had to. It was our job.
We were given cards again and directed to the indicated buses. I ended up at Malivoire, where one of my favourite Gamays can be found (II had it first at a Japanese restaurant of all places!).
By this time, as you can imagine, the group was pretty tuckered. We had been drinking all morning. Now at 2, we looked like we needed a collective nap. However, winery owners from Strewn Winery and Cave Spring Cellars were lively and I worked my way through all 7 wines (I am a professional after all).
After our talk, we were taken back to the city, accompanied by a bagful of treats provided by The Pie Plate – Niagara’s sovereign coronation grapes 4 ways, Niagara peach tart, chocolate chili popcorn, slices of Niagara apples and pears and Upper Canada Cheese Company’s Cottage Gold Cheese.
Departing for the subway to head back home. I was tired but exuberant at the same time. After all, how often is it that you get to meet such passionate people? The winemakers I met on Wednesday spend their days making stellar products while frost and heavy rains play fate with their crops. All they have to go up against! Then there’s Trina who never stopped smiling or being the perfect hostess and Suresh who is one of the city’s best resources for all things food and wine. And I came home with new friendships – people I’d been following on Twitter but never met and some that I’d never known of before but now I hope to hang out with them.
Oh, and a long list of wines I’ll be purchasing at the LCBO.
Here are my top picks from the day’s tastings, all available at the LCBO.
Coyote’s Run 2009 Red Paw Vineyard Pinot Noir
Malivoire Red 2009
Cave Springs 2009 Pinot Noir
Thanks to everyone for showing me such a great time and giving me a day in the country. I had the best time.
Make the trip to wine country. There are over 140 licensed wineries including grape and fruit wineries in Ontario. Go to winecountryontario.ca and map out your route. Go Local. It’s all right here in our backyard.