Niagara Falls and wineries

Trip Start Mar 28, 2012
Trip End May 24, 2012

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Where I stayed
Lyon House, Niagara on the Lake
What I did
Niagara Falls
Read my review - 5/5 stars

Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Niagara area has given its name to an escarpment that runs for hundreds of miles from New York State in the east to Wisconsin in the west. It is the escarpment over which the river spectacularly falls to produce the Niagara Falls. The river drains Lake Eerie into Lake Ontario and also forms the border between Canada and USA. I've always found it hard to get my head around the geography as when i view a picture I always assume that I am looking to the north - I don't know why, that's just the way I'm wired. The river flows from east to west and is split by an island which divides the river into two falls - the 'American' to the north and the 'Canadian' to the south. As the river tumbles over the Canadian fall it swings north and heads towards a 90 turn to the north-east as it heads into lake Ontario. It's complicated, but easier to see on a map.

The falls are magnificent and it is possible to get close to the Canadian fall as it tumbles 50m over the precipice. This website is perhaps the most helpful one to put it in context. As you get closer to the falls, there is significant spray which photographers and ladies with hair do not appreciate. The access is really easy and as long as you're prepared to jostle with the other tourists, you can work your way to the barrier. I hope the photos do it justice. There are Casinos, tourist shops and all the tacky stuff you'd expect - but nothing can detract from the majesty of this natural spectacle.

To the north of the escarpment - i.e. on the lower side, nature has provided soil that is excellent for viticulture. Added to this, the climate and influence of Lake Ontario combine to produce conditions that are also conducive to wine production and at present there are 106 wineries. Wine is big business here - but not for export. It is even illegal to export it to another Province in Canada! We visited a total of 7 wineries producing wine in a wide variety of styles. Tasting is encouraged and the friendly and knowledgeable staff are not at all pushy. I particularly liked the Creekside Estate, Colaneri Estate and the Konzelmann Estate. Many of the wines were in the style of German and French wines, but there was also Shiraz in an Australian style, multiple versions of Pinot Noir including South African and Marlborough style varieties, Austrian Zweigelt and also Vidal which is a variety I had not encountered before. For anyone with an interest in wine, this is an area that is well worth exploring.

On Saturday night we dined at Grill on King and I chose French Onion Soup and Shrimp Linguine. I realise I am bigging everything up, but I count myself a connoisseur of both of these dishes and these were the best examples I have ever sampled - washed down with some excellent Merlot from the local Pillitteri Estate. We then decamped next door to the Irish Harp Pub where there was excellent live music provided by Finnegan's Wake. The beer was good - as was the night cap of Balvenie. A most excellent end to a superb day.

My hosts had booked accommodation for us overnight at Lyon House B&B. Only three bedrooms - but sumptuously appointed and great hosts in Howie and Yolanta. The breakfast was the best Eggs Benedict I have ever had - simply wonderful. Freshly squeezed orange juice, great coffee and freshly made scones. Simply top class. Many thanks to Dan & Laurie for a superb weekend - great fun.
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