To the Spicola family, wine isn't simply something sipped on at dinner or during a party. Rather, it's the family heritage, which forms a bridge between generations. Today, Dominic Spicola runs the Winery of Ellicottville with his son-in-law, but years ago, he worked alongside his father, Francesco, an Italian immigrant schooled in his home country's winemaking tradition. Together, the duo crushed and pressed annual harvests into barrels of wine, making sure their relatives had enough to fill glasses at dinner and water balloons at family picnics throughout the year.
Today, Dominic and his son-in-law mesh this Old World wisdom with New World techniques to craft chardonnays and merlots, reds and whites. They sell their bottles from an unassuming shop on Monroe Street, where sky-blue walls, family pictures, and shelved knickknacks surround a sun-splashed bar.
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When Nana and Papa Varallo brought winemaking to America from Italy, they unknowingly brought a livelihood for their successors. Son Nicholas made wine in Papa's basement from the age of 8, then taught the techniques to children Dominic, Cristina, and Americo Varallo. Now all three generations contribute to the development of the family's Spring Lake Winery, which offers group vineyard excursions, rentable wedding space, and, of course, the Varallo's award-winning wines.
Old Firehouse Winery ferments more than 20 full-flavored vinos along the glistening shores of Lake Erie. Diners can admire the dining room with its shelves of glossy wine bottles to the gently lapping lake. Visitors can opt to purchase sweet and dry wine tastings ($1 for two tasting trays), which each include 10 samples of single-grape and blended varietals. After sampling the full range of sweet and juicy concords to dry and full-bodied chambourcins, duos can imagine how each exquisite vintage would look inside their souvenir wine glasses and how advantageous the imprinted corkscrews would be during a close-range jousting match. In the warmer months, patrons can swill, sniff, and sip from a romantic lakeside overlook on the outdoor tasting patio and supplement the winery outing with a ride on a historic ferris wheel.
Rated #1 three years running in the Zagat National Chains Survey for best steak, Outback Steakhouse specializes in dispensing classic menu items such as seafood, steak, and pasta. The restaurant draws inspiration from the continent of Australia, alluding to its namesake outback with seared prime rib and lobster tails, grilled meats such as chicken and salmon, and juicy, marbled rib-eye steaks. A menu for kids lets youths sample morsels from the upside-down part of the world while right-side up, and creative desserts and generous cocktails round out the offerings.
The dedicated guides of Niagara Fun Tours escort flocks of visitors around the Niagara region all year round during their guided tours. Summer and Winter wine tours visit, taste, and tour at four award winning wineries studding the Niagara Wine Belt, where settings range from mountain chalets to baroque and modern castle decor to rustic wood farmhouses. For tour-goers that prefer libations other than wine, Niagara Fun Tours offers other seasonal tours that stop at local distilleries, micro breweries, and hard cider distilleries. Guides often conclude their tours with stops at locales such as the heart of Niagara-on-the-Lake or Chocolate FX, where chocolate artisans fashion often-unconventional taste combinations using traditional panning and moulding techniques. Sightseers embark on a new Niagara Beer, Spirits and Hard Cider tour, seasonal winery tours, or private scenic torus of Niagara Falls. Participants enjoy tastings at each location, have a chance to grab some lunch at Harvest Barn Country Market, and receive a wine tasting at Rancourt Winery. Niagara Fun Tours also provides round-trip transportation from multiple locations in Niagara for each tour, loading guests into large shuttle buses that accommodate up to 48 passengers or into vehicles that accommodate up to 21 giraffes.
The DeMaison family brags that wine flows in their blood, and given the three generations who work side by side at Long Cliff Vineyard & Winery, it would be hard to disprove them. Donald “Grandpa” DeMaison, the mastermind behind Long Cliff Vineyard & Winery, traces his roots back to his great-great-grandfather who worked as a farmer in the Alsace region of France. Don he has spent four decades mastering the art of growing, juggling, and transforming grapes, and has collaborated with his family to produce a venerable list of wines. Their offerings include white and red varietals and range from sweet to dry, such as a sweet Pinot Gris and a dry, mellow Lemberger in French oak.