At The Wine Place, would-be vintners can mix and bottle their own reds or whites using varietals from around the world. Visitors can choose a vino-to-be from a selection of wine kits derived from grapes grown in such locales as South Africa, South America, California, Italy, and the mythical land of Shangri-La. Once guests have decided on a variety for their batch—including cabernet sauvignon, syrah, pinot gris, and more—friendly, knowledgeable staff members help pour nascent libations into a large jug, mix in crucial ingredients, and stir.
Markham Heritage Wines began its evolution in 1965 as Wine-Art, a company that supplied the materials for customers to ferment wine in their own homes. In 1987, it rolled out its first four-week wine kit, a compact collection of everything needed to produce wine within a single month. Eventually, technology changed and so did the business owners, so they sold Wine-Art and founded Markham Heritage Wines as an all-purpose supplier and educational venue for aspiring bottlers who just can’t bring themselves to forgo buying a rocket car in favour of buying a vineyard.
On Markham Heritage Wines’ premises, wine experts guide neophytes through the process of mixing wines from simple grape juices, flavouring them with oak chips and other additives, and bottling the newly created vintages. Each batch of wine needs to be looked after for four to six weeks, during which time the experts rack, stabilize, clear, and filter the liquid before singing it to sleep each night. Clients then return to bottle their wine using automated equipment, label the bottles, and apply decorative shrink tops.
The interior of Anna William Wine Making looks a little like a vintage kitchen and a little like a science laboratory. That's because the operation is a little of both. Inside the lemon yellow room, walls are lined with shelves bursting with fermentation buckets, giant spoons, and all the necessary equipment guests need to make their own wine. In just four-to-six weeks, guests can produce enough wine to fill 30 bottles or a small jacuzzi, and staff are well versed in many styles of wine, from cabernet sauvignon, to Chilean malbecs.
For 20 years, The Brew Kettle has let beer, wine, and cider aficionados bask in the pride of making their own beverages without the hassle of using their own equipment. The process begins as libation experts help customers browse the more than 200 beverage kits to choose their favourite style, whether it's a murky stout, a refreshing riesling, or a blend of several flavours. Once they've made their choice, customers mix the ingredients with yeast, then hand off their developing creation to staff members so they can monitor it for proper fermentation and a passable Belgian accent over the following weeks. Once it's ready, the experts filter the newly born beverage and help the customer bottle it, label it, and ferry it home to enjoy.
Garnering the title of Best Wine Bar in Toronto from Now magazine, Fat Cat Wine Bar upholds its reputation with artful small plates and a carefully curated selection of wines. The bottle vault includes harvests from Europe, Australia, and America, all approved by wine-enthusiast owner Mathew Sutherland.
Outside on the sun-dappled patio, pots simmer with cheese fondue, beckoning slices of bread to succumb to a dripping, melty fate. Platters of escargot showcase accents of roasted mushrooms, leek, and speck, while the Fat Cat sausage is joined by a warm truffled potato salad. For dessert, apple cobbler arrives crowned with whipped cream, and Grand Marnier strawberries underscore the richness of a dense chocolate brownie. Fat Cat Wine Bar upholds modest elegance with wooden tables, a granite-top bar, and restroom signs recovered from the original court of Versailles.