Bob's View

The Village of Wineries

There is a small very charming village in Ontario known to the locals as NOTL. Niagara-on-the Lake. It sits on the shores of Lake Ontario, at the mouth of the Niagara River. It's known for it quaint old buildings and the summer Shaw Festival, a series of theatre productions. The flower-filled, tree-lined old town features 19th-century buildings, mainly along Queen Street. Near the river, 19th-century Fort George was built by the British to defend against American attacks.

There are almost 100 wineries located on the Niagara-On-The-Lake Niagara Peninsula with many of the most notable been located in the Village itself and other close by. Bordeaux Wine Ltd was one of the first to come to NOTL in 1935.

However it was in 1974 the first modern day winery was established in Niagara-on-the Lake. Was it chance or destiny that brought Donald Ziraldo and Karl J Kaiser together in 1971 which resulted in the founding of Inniskillin Wines.

When you ask someone to name the most prominent winery in NOTL You will receive numerous responses. Someone may say The Reif Winery.

Ewald Reif first visited the Niagara region in the 60's He like what he saw and purchased land in 1977.  He began uprooting the existing vines native to Ontario and began replacing them with premium vinifera varietals; such as Riesling, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. By planting the finest Vitis viniferavarietals alongside French hybrids, Ewald's role was that of a pioneer in the Niagara wine industry. Gradually he expanded the acreage of his vineyard, eventually growing to a 125-acre farm.  Ewald continued planting vines and opened the retail store in 1983. The winery was sold to Klaus in 1987, with Ewald staying on as vineyard supervisor.

In 1987, Klaus W. Reif took over the reins from his uncle Ewald, as the President and Winemaker after graduating from the world famous Geisenheim Institute in Germany with degrees in both Oenology and Viticulture

Others would say Jackson Triggs. Who today without a doubt is one of the nations biggest wineries. Allan Jackson and Don Triggs, established the winery in 1993.

We can not forget the another giant of the industry Andrew Peller Ltd who started in British Columbia but moved to Ontario. They are an international concern today Among their NOTL wineries are Peller Estates and Truis.

Although not so well know outside of Ontario Joseph's Estate Wines has a rich history in the village. Dr. Joseph Pohorly was one of the first winery owners in Niagara. He founded Newark Winery in the Village of Virgil in 1979, one of the three original cottage wineries that opened in Niagara in the '70s and laid the foundation for the growth of the new Ontario wine industry.

In 1970 Donna and David Lailey purchased land near the village and began a steady transformation of the 20-acre farm into a vineyard establishing Lailey winery.

Gary and Lena Pillitteri settled in Niagara on the Lake to raise their family in 1965.  They purchased a small fruit farm on Niagara Stone Road. In 1973 they opened Gary's Fruit Market (which actually still operates today in the east wing of the winery).The market grew and so did Gary's interest in wines shortly after the first winery open near by he planted the families first vineyard.

By 1988 Gary decided to experiment by making a small batch of Vidal Icewine. The Icewine was later entered into a wine competition where it won a gold medal. This achievement solidified the idea to open a winery in Niagara's newly emerging wine industry. During the next 5 years the farm and the market underwent several changes to convert the property into a winery. The winery opened June 1993.

One can not forget SouthBrook Winery which was opened in 1992 by Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier Among their many accomplishments in the industry. Southbrook's hospitality pavilion became the first winery building to receive the Gold level of LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) from the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) in November 2008.

There are so many wineries that have to mentioned Stratus Vineyards, Strewn Estate Winery, Wayne Gretzky Winery and Two Sisters. The list goes on and on.

Some of the lesser known wineries are Coyote's Run Estate Winery, De Moura Winery Way, De Simone Vineyards, Ferox, Frogpond Farm,Hinterbrook Winery,Pondview Estate Winery,Palatine Hills Estate Winery,Colaneri Estate Winey, Riverview Estate Winery and the list goes on.The futurelooks bright for the Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries and the village.

Niagara College offers a number of wine related courses

Numerous other wineries on the Niagara Peninsula may come to mind, chances are they are located in other municipalities such as Jordan Station, Beamsville or St. Catharines.

Just out side the actual boundries is Chateau des Charmes. Wine master Paul-Michel Bosc a French grape grower came to Canada and started his family vineyard in 1978. The winery has 270 acres under cultivation in Niagara-on-the-Lake, claiming to be the first in Canada to plant a vineyard exclusively to vifis vinifera.

There is a beautiful drive along Niagara Parkway historical route from NOTL to Niagara Falls approx 20 -25 minutes.

Please see Niagara Wineries

Read more about Niagara-on-the-Lake

History of Canada's Wineries



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