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.
Back in 1970 when they planted their first vines, Redi and Roberto Quai might have never imagined their quaint winery would eventually produce more than 90,000 bottles in a single year. But more than a decade ago, the pair celebrated the sale of their millionth bottle, and production of great wines continues to grow. Situated upon one of the highest points in Elgin County, the winery's verdant grounds are home to a huge variety of grapes—all of which are processed, fermented, and transferred into barrels to age, on site. winemaker Jamie Quai's goals are simple: create great wines that are perfect for any situation, whether it's a seven-course dinner or a casual picnic. The result is a long roster of reds, whites, and fruit wines, ranging from Merlots to Rieslings.
The vineyards of Niagara's wineries offer guests an inside look at their wine-crafting practices, including grape selection and cultivation. The full-day tour reveals all of the necessary steps each winery takes in preparing its signature libations, with each tour culminating in a wine tasting, sure to please the palate and nurture appreciation for the sacrifices of selfless grapes throughout history. To redeem this deal, simply visit the wineries of your choice and present today's Groupon to frolic in the vinous depths of oenophilic education.
Honoured with more than 500 awards, Pillitteri Estates Winery produces rich reds, fragrant whites, and signature icewines. Tour groups of 10 to 15 visitors kick off their oenophile journey in the awards room, stuffed to an impressive degree with plaudits from both domestic and international competitions and organizations. After a visit to the press room, where vintners do their grape-squeezing and movable type-shuffling, guides usher guests into the neo-Norman barrel cellar, a cooled concrete vault filled with litres of libations aging in oak barrels. From the ceiling hang 23 stainless steel chairs bearing etchings recounting the ancestral origin myth of the winery's proprietors, the Pillitteri family, two generations of whom remain active in the estate's day-to-day operations.
Tarsitano's Artisan Winery used to be a dairy farm. "But I would rather squeeze grapes than cows, so I started a winery," Ken Tarsitano says. This isn't the only reason Ken turned his 17 acres—which has been in his family for five generations—into a vineyard. His grandfather, Michael Tarsitano, "always had something bubbling away in his cellar," and it was Grandpa's ability to transform elderberries, apples, and even dandelions into wine that inspired Ken.
Today, Ken is the owner, vineyard manager, and winemaker at his eponymous winery and vineyard, whose 25 grape varieties have been organic since its 1998 inception. Wine isn't the only thing visitors dine on here: winery goers savor flatbreads and cheese plates. Tarsitano's Artisan Winery even hosts events, such as moon-viewing parties, where guests gather to launch sky lanterns in the light of a waxing moon.
When Colio Estate Winery opened in 1980, they were the first winery in the area to seek a license since prohibition was lifted. This is surprising, since these vineyards lie on the same latitude as famed wine regions in northern California and Tuscany, Italy, which indicates that the regions could have similar growing climates. The area also boasts lush, fertile soil and a growing season longer than most of Canada, making it a favorable place to ripen grapes.
Today, Colio Estate Winery produces more than 400,000 cases of wine per year, including big red wines and refreshing whites. Knowing collaboration is key in the winemaking process, winemaker Lawrence Buhler and vineyard manager Kevin Donohue work in tandem to produce high quality wines in varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Guests at the winery can learn about their process on tours, wander the vineyard, or recline in the outdoor pavilion to enjoy glasses of wine in the open air.