Niagara Falls, NY and Wine Country, Ontario

Trip Start Mar 04, 2007
Trip End Jun 16, 2007

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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Tuesday, April 24, 2007

I almost forgot to mention the car. It started driving from Montreal to Toronto. I was getting lots of stares. I thought they must be thinking I'm nuts for driving this tiny car in the snow/sleet/rain/wind and were perhaps pissed off that I was driving so slowing (55 mph - when the speed limit was between 45 - 65). Then in Toronto the weather clears but I'm getting the same stares. Paranoia sets in, "Am I driving badly?" After a bit, I start getting comments as I enter and exit the car, "cool car, etc." and people start to gather around it when I'm not in it. Well, I come to find out from John that the car is not sold in Canada (i.e. is illegal there) because it's considered a "street" car and is too low to the ground and used for racing. Ah-ha! John wants me to sell it in Canada for double what it's worth, buy a beater that can haul crap that I collect along the way, and fund the rest of my trip. I considered it for about 3 minutes. I can always come back and sell it. As the days get warmer and the top comes down, I am getting thumbs up signs and nods of approval. I even got the thumbs up from a couple in a Mercedes SLK convertible. However, the downside of a cool car is, I got pulled into secondary at the U.S. border. I swear they just wanted to check out the car. A group of 3-4 guys hung around the car asking how much does one of these costs and saying things like "oh, this is where the spare goes" and "look there are 2 compartments behind the seats. They really didn't search the vehicle at all.

The Falls at Niagara are beautiful but that's about all that's there besides the Power Plant, which was equally cool. The city of Niagara Falls is a city that is in need of revitalization. It's not a garbage pit, just empty. The downtown area is empty, and surrounding homes the same. It was strange. Though outside of the immediate old part of Niagara it's "bustling." I saw some storefronts with signs advertising that if you buy the space, the state will help you with "Empire Redevelopment" funds. Hmmmm? An opportunity? The buildings are kinda cool and so are the houses, just in need of renovation/rehabilitation.

Oh my goodness . . . move over Napa and Sonoma, here comes Ontario, Canada. Ontario made up three fold for the Hudson River Valley fiasco. There are over 95 wineries in Lower Ontario and they are anywhere from fair to fabulous. They are on the same longitude as the Bordeaux region of France and as such produce a lot of Cabernet Francs and Rieslings. The Rieslings are overall quite good. I'm not a fan of the Cab Franc grape but some of the Cabernet Sauvignon/Cab Franc blends were quite good. They also produce Icewine, which was discovered by accident. The Vidal grapes froze on the vine - whoops. They pressed them anyway and sloughed off the ice crystals, leaving a heavily concentrated sweet "nectar" to produce a sweet wine. I went to about 10 wineries and no, I did not consume all that was poured, but I tried quite a bit and even bought some. They prices were very reasonable. From what I gather from talking to the people at the vineyards is that the Ontario wine country has increased in number of producers and the quality of the wine has gone up tremendously as well. A new wine tasting trip to be sure. And the best part, the wine route is WELL MARKED, and the wineries are not too far from each other, like in Napa. Get the wine guide at Super guide of all the wineries and map.

Wineries I went to in order from Niagara on the Lake to Grimsby:
Riverview Cellars Estate
Reif Estate - bought a Riesling
Lailey Vineyard
Konzelmann Estate
Stonechurch Vineyards - bought the Merlot-Cab
Creekside Estate
Kacaba Vineyards
Willow Heights
Thirty Bench
Angels Gate - bought a Vidal and Gamay Noir - both good and grapes I am unfamiliar with
Puddiecombe - ick - fruit wines

Wineries I really liked:
2005 Chardonnay ($12.60)
2006 Rose - needs to develop a bit - just released ($13.15)
2001 Laura's Blend Meritage (50% CS, 40% CF, 6% Merlot) - award winner ($18.15)

Konzelmann Estate Wines
2006 Riesling - crisp but not citrusy nor overly floral, great for pairing with food ($11.25)
2004 Cabernet Merlot Reserve - very nice, full with finish that lingers but doesn't pucker ($25.95)

Thirty Bench
2005 Riesling - very nice, fruity but not overly so, crisp but not tangy, clean ($18)
2003 Benchmark Blend - spicy, rolls on tongue but not killer, nice finish, tannins well blended

Willow Heights
2005 Chardonnay Sur Lie VQA - immediate apple bouquet, yummy spice, crisp nice finish, not acidic ($12.15)
2002 Cabernet VQA (50% CS and 50% CF) - lovely when hits the mouth, full but not heavy, not sharp ($19.15)
2004 Merlot VQA - plumy but smooth, full but not fuzzy ($20.15)
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Christino on

Niagara Fall NY the most powerful in entire North America. Every minute, close to six million cubic feet, ( close to hundred and sixty thousand sq meters ) of water cascades over the crest line, and the average is about 4 million cu ft ( 110 thousand )

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