A wine tour of Twenty Valley, a hidden gem in my very own backyard
When it comes to wine, places like Burgundy, Tuscany and Napa Valley come to mind. I am not necessarily a wine-connoisseur but I do enjoy some good wine. I’ve been fortunate to travel to places like Napa Valley and Italy where I’ve gone to wine tours and tastings. Growing up in Windsor, Ontario, I was well-familiar with Pelee Island and all it’s glory, but I never really thought about Niagara on the Lake or the surrounding areas. Perhaps because I was so far removed, or never really took some time to consider visiting there. Since moving to the GTHA, I started to explore various restaurants in the surrounding areas. It didn’t take me long to realize that you don’t have to travel too far to find good restaurants and wineries, and I am not even talking about going to Toronto!
I’ve been to Niagara on the Lake but I haven’t done it properly, like gone on a proper wine tour. It all started one afternoon at my niece’s 8th birthday party back in October. I was talking to a few of my husband’s cousins on how we should get together and what not and how we always do something with the kids, but never just us. I then said, “I think it would be nice if we all went on a wine tour.” And like magic, it just happened. We organized our first ever cousin’s wine tour.
We spent a few weeks figuring out where to go, how many wineries to visit and booking a bus. I booked the restaurant and my cousin-in-law’s husband looked after the wineries. Luckily, my cousin-in-law’s husband is an expert when it comes to wine, so he put together a lovely roster for our tour. It worked out that all the wineries were located in Niagara’s Twenty Valley region instead of Niagara on the Lake.
Twenty Valley is located right in between Grimsby and St. Catharine’s and consists of Beamsville, Vineland, Jordan Station and the Town of Lincoln. Not only is the region home to many world-class wineries, but to breweries, restaurants, markets and much more. I’ve actually been to Christmas urn-making parties at the Watering Can in Vineland a few times and have been impressed with the beauty it surrounds.
I ended up making a reservation for dinner at Edgewater Manor in Stoney Creek, as it made sense to dine closer to home.
The weather couldn’t have been better for a late-November day as it was sunny. We started our tour at Hidden Bench Winery, a lovely winery located in Beamsville. It is a quaint area surrounded by a few barn-houses. There were 11 of us total in our group and we had our own private tasting room, where we were greeted by some friendly creatures! As we entered our room, a flight of four wines were waiting for us. We started with their riesling and made our way to the pinot. It was a nice start to our tour.
Our next stop was at Tawse, an organic winery with some French flair to it. This winery is a larger and more-commercialized winery. We had an hour walking tour of the winery and a private tasting in the cellar. I would say the pinot noir was my favourite at this one. This winery also makes various spirits as well. The grounds were lovely and had a nice view of the lake from a-far.
Following this we stopped at Cloudsley Cellars, a smaller, more boutique-style winery. We had a tasting with the owner, right in the cellar, which made for a more intimate setting. I would say the chardonnay was my favourite here.
We concluded our wine tour at Westcott Vineyards, a family-owned and operated winery with a beautiful view and equally lovely rose! I really enjoyed the story behind their “Temperance” wine, inspired by two women who were feminists for their time. We tasted four wines here and I think the rose was my favourite at this one.
We had a bit of time in-between the last winery and the restaurant, so we made a quick pit stop for cappuccino and drinks at Cappola’s Ristorante in St. Catharine’s. My husband’s cousin-in-law grew up in the area and is friends with the owners. We were greeted with friendly smiles and some Louis Martini!
We concluded our evening at the historic Edgewater Manor, located on the shores of Lake Ontario in Stoney Creek. The manor is absolutely beautiful and is well-decorated for the upcoming holidays. The food was phenomenal and our service was second-to-none. We were surprised by a guitarist who played some lovely flamingo music to us.
It was overall, a magical experience which made me realize you don’t have to travel too far to experience good food and good wine. But most importantly, we created a new tradition for us to carry for years to come.