Niagara on the Lake

While everyone has heard of Niagara Falls, just a ways down the road is the quaint town of Niagara on the Lake. We spent a morning strolling around the town and I positively loved it. The streets were lined with wonderful shops, galleries and restaurants. It was a bright and sunny day when we visited, so tourists were aplenty.

One of the things I loved about the town was how floral it was. I’d be surprised if there isn’t some type of city ordinance regarding landscaping. Everywhere you looked were beautiful flowers – park benches were surrounded by wonderful landscaping, the light poles had flower pots hanging from them, every restaurant and building contained a lovely burst of color and fragrance. Even the homes we passed seemed to be full of flowers.

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On our stroll, we came across a statue of George Bernard Shaw. Intrigued by the connection we did a little research and discovered that the Shaw Festival Theater, established in 1973, is located in Niagara on the Lake. It would have been nice if we were able to take in a show, but we were only passing through.

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Though we very much enjoyed our time there, the town wasn’t without flaws. We drifted into one shop called The Cheese Secret. Turned out the secret was terrible customer service. Beyond saying something along the lines of “nice weather,” the two employees simply stared at us the entire time we were in the store. They made no inquiry of our needs and offered no assistance, so we moved on without a purchase, despite the fact that we love trying new cheeses.

We had lunch on the water, across from Old Fort Niagara.

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After lunch we decided to check out a local winery that had been recommended to us the night before at dinner.

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Our visit to the Trius Winery at Hillenbrand was a lovely way to spend the afternoon – if you ignore that pesky wine tasting part. It was fun to see the vineyard and hear about the process for the various types of wine, including their ice wine (80% of all ice wines come from that region), which is made from frozen grapes harvested in January and contains no added sugar despite being the sweetest wine they sell.

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There were fun facts mentioned on the tour including the fact that Trius produces much of the wine for the area vineyards, including the wine for the Wayne Gretzky No. 99 Collection (we’d seen some for $30 per glass the night before).

We also visited the winery’s cellar, which included a beautiful tasting room.

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A very brief overview of the processes and equipment involved in making the wines was given before heading back out to the grounds and the garden for our official tasting. I went through all of the steps of the tasting – checking the wine’s appearance, smelling the wine, swirling the wine – I even tasted the wine, which only confirmed the notion that I don’t like wine.

We were offered three wines in all – a white, a red, and an ice wine. I tried both the white and the ice wines. The ice wine was slightly more palatable to me, but that’s not saying much. Sriram was impressed enough with the ice wine to purchase a bottle. As the teetotaler in the marriage I was happy to have simply enjoyed the stroll of the grounds and the information presented.

And I did learn a nice tip for my next party. Our guide recommended always following the 15 minute rule for wines. If you’re serving a white wine, take it out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving to allow it to reach optimal temperature. If you’re serving a red wine, put it into the refrigerator for 15 minutes before serving for optimal temperature. Easy enough. I can definitely remember that.

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