Sunday, May 10, 2009

First Wine Tour of 2009!

Vineyard near Fielding Estates Winery outside Beamsville Spring in Niagara brings with it the start of a fifth season - wine touring season! Arguably, one of my favourite things about living here is the selection of wineries all around me. I can no longer bring myself to buy any wine that is not VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance - read more about it here ).

There are so many amazing wines in my backyard - Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet, Riesling (Niagara has the best), even Shiraz, and not to mention, Icewine - I can not justify to buy foreign wines. Maybe I do not have the most extensive wine taste yet, but I would rather buy directly from the winery and know the profits are going into their pockets and supporting our local economy.

Wine touring can often be done at no or a small charge, but you should plan to buy some wine. Most wineries waive tasting fees with the purchase of a bottle. At approximately, $15.00 per bottle, you are paying for not only the tastings but the whole winery experience.

Here are a few suggestions to make wine touring a memorable and great experience:

  1. Visit the 'little guys'. They are often less busy and more willing to provide you with their attention and ample tastings. Learning their 'story' is often as enjoyable as their wines, and the charm is absolutely unmistakable!
  2. Ask for the server's 'favourite'. They should know the wines in and out and sometimes will even provide you with a 'tasting' of something unreleased, brand new, or special reserve.
  3. New to vino culture? Tell the server. A good winery will be more than happy to explain wine, how to taste properly, what to look for and provide their recommendations.
  4. Bring crackers, snacks and a bagged lunch and either hire or designate a driver! All those little mouthfuls of wine will add up. Wine touring is not for the empty stomach, and you can not take in the whole experience if you're tipsy after your first stop!
  5. Go with friends and plan your purchases. If everyone loves a wine and wants to buy it, that is great, but it will also be far more affordable if you 'take turns buying'. Try to have at least one person purchase a bottle at each stop, but don't feel obligated at each winery, especially if you didn't love the wines yourself. Everyone likes something different, so with a group, there is a good chance this will just happen naturally.

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