Beamsville, cheese, Comfort Cream, escarpment, Good Earth, Guernsey, Jordan, Jordan Station, Lincoln, Main Street, Malivoire, mead, Niagara, Niagara Escarpment, Niagara Gold, Pinot noir, QEW, rosé, Rosewood, St. Catharines, Tawse, Upper Canada Cheese, Vineland, Zuma Zuma
On Thursday, July 31, my wife, Nancy, and I, along with a friend of ours, Jennifer, decided to take a trip to the Niagara Escarpment wine region. This region is about 100 kilometers from our home and took just over an hour to get there.
There are 50 wineries located in this region through the communities of Jordan, Jordan Station, Vineland, Beamsville and Lincoln. The escarpment seems to receive less attention that the more popular Niagara-on-the Lake region, but the escarpment is a great place to explore, plus it is a little bit closer to home.
We exited the Queen Elizabeth Way at exit number 55 which is Jordan Road, just west of St. Catharines. We travelled south to our first stop: the Upper Canada Cheese Company.
In addition to their cheeses, they also sold a variety of other gourmet foods. Including ourselves, there were nine customers in their store and we were just in time to do a cheese tasting. We were all given samples of Niagara Gold, Comfort Cream, Maple Smoked Comfort Cream, Nosey Goat Nanny Noir and cheese curds. We loved every single one of them! More information about the cheeses can be found at Upper Canada Cheese’s website.
There was one cheese that is only available for sampling on weekends, which is their Guernsey Girl. This is a cheese that is meant to be grilled, similar to haloumi, but is less salty. We purchased the Nosey Goat and the Guernsey Girl. It is worth noting that the Guernsey Girl freezes well but the other cheeses do not.
Jordan Village is located only five minutes away from Upper Canada Cheese. Main Street is so quaint and beautiful and we found a place called Zooma Zooma Cafe where we enjoyed a coffee on the patio.
We then explored Main Street.
We drove north on Main Street until we reached King Street (Niagara Regional Road 81) and proceeded six kilometers to Tawse Winery. The landscaping and view from their upper parking lot was amazing.
We could not identify the large light-coloured structure in the magnified version of the above photo seen below.
Next up was the wine shop and their tasting room.
We were each offered a complimentary glass of the Tawse Growers Blend Rosé. It was very good and we purchased a bottle. It’s interesting to note that their tasting room had the wine menus displayed on iPads. They also used the iPads with a Square reader for their point-of-sale. Very fast and efficient and you simply sign the screen by writing your name with your finger.
I was interested in tasting some reds, so they poured samples of the 2011 Tawse Cabernet-Merlot, 2009 Tawse Cabernet France and the 2009 Tawse “Meritage” Estate. All were outstanding on their own, but certainly the Meritage was the most complex and full-bodied wine of the bunch. I purchased the Cabernet-Merlot.
Our next stop was three kilometers down the road at the Malivoire Wine Company. One of their products, Lady Bug, was Nancy’s favourite rosé. Approximately a year ago, the wine was out of stock at our local LCBO so Nancy had to find another rosé that she liked.
Our final winery for the day was Rosewood Estates Winery. The meticulously landscaped grounds and vineyards were breathtaking as was the view from their large parking lot. We had hoped to meet Krystina Roman, a third-generation member of the family of beekeepers and wine makers that owns and operates Rosewood. Krystina was away, but Mary took great care of us.
Rosewood is a unique winery in that they are also a meadery. They are beekeepers and produce mead, one of the oldest-known alcoholic beverages. Their Harvest Gold has just come back into stock at the LCBO. It is a very unique wine and is on the sweeter side but nowhere near as sweet as an icewine. It would pair well with cheese. We also tasted their Mead Noir, which is a blend of Pinot noir and mead — fantastic! Read more about Mead Noir (pdf)
Numerous honey products as well as beeswax candles are available for purchase.
It was shortly after 1:00 p.m., and we were ready for lunch. The nice people at Rosewood suggested we go to The Good Earth Food and Wine Co. It was located just six minutes down the road.
Jennifer and I both opted for the fish feature of the day, which was a pan-seared trout served on a bed of vegetables and fruit. It was truly outstanding. Nancy chose the Cobb salad, which was delicious as well.
After our fabulous lunch, it was time to head back to Toronto before the rush-hour traffic began. We crossed over the Burlington Skyway just after 3:00 p.m. and we later learned that shortly after we went over the bridge a dump truck crashed into the construction scaffolding on the bridge. Traffic was completely halted and the bridge now needs a structural inspection. We were so lucky to have missed that mess!
If you are looking for a nice outing that is only an hour away, check out the Niagara Escarpment and explore the countryside, the wineries and the restaurants.