Today we zoomed around the Niagara wine country, visiting wineries (Inniskillin, Cave Spring, Pelham, Lailey, Hernder were some). The land is flat, and lush at this time of year, green too with all the recent rain. The wineries are mostly along the narrow, straight country roads that intersect the area.
My tastings today confirmed that the Niagara is best by far at white wines. Except for a Pinot Noir at Inniskillin which was quite acceptable, the reds seemed all to have that "green vine" taste (or "green pepper") which I can't get past personally although some people like it I know.
But the whites are very good indeed. Chards come at most places in oaked and unoaked styles. One house uses Canadian oak to age their wines and I thought the Chards were excellent there. Riesling too is where Ontario shines. The best remind me of Alsatian rieslings and the same for gewurtztraminer but there is an Ontario taste I recognise too.
Vidal (a hybrid grape I think), Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc all do well.
The wineries I saw all seem to be prospering, with well-appointed tasting rooms and in some cases fine restaurants on premises (e.g. Hilldebrand's).
At Inniskillin, they had a boutique stand on the property selling a cured meat plate offering meats made by a local business working in an Italian style. His prosciutto was excellent, delicate and not too salty. It went well with the winery's Pinot Grigio although I'd prefer the latter a touch less sweet.
At Pelham I got more of their fine Cuvee Catherine sparkling wines which I've mentioned on the board before.
Ontario's wines have come a long way in 20 years. I remember when they were kind of clumsy and sometimes with white crystals in the corks - all that is long behind us (putting aside the reds which seem a challenge in our climate or at least the Niagara region - there are 5 wine regions in Ontario and reds may do better elsewhere).
We had the top down until later in the day when a hailstorm came in off Lake Ontario! Marbles of hail pounding the pavements, I saw the motorcyclists take refuge under the bridges. It came on so fast I don't know how they didn't skid off the road but I saw no accidents.
The climate here can be a little chancy even in summertime..