By now you probably know how much I love wine, and because I love wine, there is nothing I love better than a wine tour. There’s something quite magical about getting out of the city and seeing where the wine is grown and made.
Beamsville is only an hour west of Toronto by car, and it’s a perfect destination for a day or weekend trip. Home to some of Canada’s top wine producers, what makes Beamsville unique is its sloped vineyards, clay and mineral-based soils and agreeable growing conditions, making the wine vibrant and delicious.
On Sunday, my parents and one of my best friends, Dyanna, and I decided we would drive out to Beamsville to get a taste of some Beamsville magic. We left Toronto at 10:30AM and by 11:30 we were sitting down to a lovely brunch at The Restaurant at Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery, followed up by enjoying our first wine tasting of the day at their winery. Peninsula Ridge has their own wines, but they also distribute wines for other small run vineyards; so it is a great place to try wines you can’t get in the city. (Too bad you wan’t describe any wines from here. Evidently they are famous for their Merlots. Maybe you could do some research on them and fake it.)
After that we drove down the road to Thirty Bench to taste some of the best Rieslings on this side of the Atlantic. Seriously, these wines taste like heaven and Rieslings are fast becoming one of my favourite white wines. They’re packed with flavour, but they’re not as heavy as Chardonnay and not as tart as Sauvignon Blanc. Of course I grabbed a bottle of the Wine Maker’s Riesling, and Dyanna and my mom picked up bottles of the Small Lot Wild Cask Riesling. My dad, who volunteered as tribute (aka the designated driver), kindly grabbed me a bottle of Thirty Bench’s delicious Small Lot Rosé. Tart and succulent, this made me ache for summer and it’s not even officially fall yet. Thirty Bench is also one of the most gorgeous wineries in the area. Light and airy and unassuming, this place is something special.
From Thirty Bench, we drove to The Organized Crime Winery, a gem I discovered the last time I did the Beamsville Bench wine tour in 2013. (Designed by Krystyna Tarasewicz, who co-founded Organized Crime with her husband, Jan, Organized Crime’s wine labels are award winning and some of the best you are going to come across. I mean, look at these things. Contrary to what you might assume, Organized Crime got its name from an incident when an organ was stolen from a local Mennonite church by another Mennonite faction that believed the church should not have music. Organized Crime, is off the beaten path, and they always have something that will surprise you. Last time it was their always-outstanding Chardonnay. They focus on packing a big flavour punch with all of their wines.This time it was their 2014 Pinot Gris is stellar. It is light pink and one of the best Pinot Gris’s I’ve tasted. Like Riesling, this is fast becoming one of my go-to white wines. (Put in a line about Pinot Gris and Pinot Grigio). Of course Dyanna and I both grabbed bottles of Pinot Gris and told everyone that was walking in to Organized Crime that they should buy a bottle too.
Tawse Winery was next on our list and wow, this place is gorgeous. Like Thirty Bench, Tawse does excellent Rieslings and their 2012 Limestone Ridge is something to write home about. It’s full of vibrant citrus notes; this wine literally dances in your glass. Even my mom, who is finally starting to admit that she likes Rieslings, was head over heels about this wine. Tawse also makes excellent Chardonnays, and my mom fell in love with their 2012 Quarry Road Chardonnay, which is an organic wine to boot! Tawse has quite a few wines in the LCBO; so we decided not to pick up some bottles at the winery, a decision I am regretting as I type this. Wine regret is real, my friends.
From Tawse we ventured to Featherstone Estate Winery, which is quite small and quaint. Dyanna and I fell in love with their Joy Cuvée, a sparkling wine done in the traditional French style. This sparkling lives up to its name – it is joyful. My mom picked up a Sauvignon Blanc, which has notes of sweetgrass, gooseberry and green apple. I’m definitely going to be heading over to my parents house to drink some of this.
Up the road from Featherstone is Malivoire Wine Company, one of my favourite wineries. Their reds and whites are among Ontario’s best, and being able to go and taste the wines next to the vineyards really does help give you an appreciate for the wine. I love Malivoire’s Chardonnays, but on Sunday it was their Pinot Gris (surprise, surprise) and Chardonnay Musque Spritz (a real surprise) that had me swooning. At Malivoire, my dad tried some reds and fell for Malivoire’s Cabernet Sauvignon. With hints of dark chocolate and raspberries, I can’t wait to drink this red when it gets a little colder out. Hint, hint, parents, hint, hint.
We finished off our grand Beamsville tour at Rosewood Estates Winery. They also make honey and mead at their vineyard. Rosewood is approachable and fun. For those of you who aren’t familiar with mead, it is an alcoholic beverage made with honey, water and usually some kind of grain or hops. Having never really gotten into mead before, I was pleasantly surprised by its rich, creamy flavour. But it was the 2014 Trois Femme Rosé (go figure) that really got me going. Made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes and named for the three generations of female beekeepers at Rosewood, this Rosé is absolutely delightful. It is full-flavoured, with hints of strawberry and citrus.
Seven wineries and five bottles of wine later, my thirst was quenched, and it was time to head back into the city. Even though it was a rainy day, it was still a great outing and one I’m so happy I got to share with people I love. It sounds cheesy, but wine does bring people together. There’s a richness to the history of wine and each winery has something special about it. I can’t wait to go back in the spring, but don’t let the fall weather stop you from heading down to Beamsville for a day. September and October feature tons of wine festivals, because it is harvest season. So, find yourself a designated driver, and head down for an afternoon of delicious food and some of the best wine you’ll taste – right in our very own backyard.