• Jane Stokes

Niagara holds the secret to top Ontario wines


At a falling speed of 56.3 kilometers per hour, the Niagara River thunders over the edge of the cliff-like escarpment creating three separate waterfalls – before resuming its natural flow into Lake Ontario.

The vertical drop is only 50 metres, not a world record, but the combined cascades are so wide, Niagara Falls is known to deliver the 'highest flow rate' of any waterfall on the planet.

Every minute, more than a million bathtubs of river water plunge over the crest of the Horseshoe Falls alone, giving onlookers a constant spectacle of sunlit mist and rainbows. And once you pull away from this hypnotic site, be sure to take in Marineland, the Botanical Gardens, the Butterfly Conservatory, the arcade museums, and the casino.

And then escape to Niagara-on-the-Lake for fine dining and shopping – and to attend world-class theatre during the annual Shaw Festival from April to October. Book your bed-and-breakfast accommodation by searching (www.niagaraonthelakebb.com) for a wide variety of choices.

For example, the art-themed ambiance of the Globetrotters B&B/Gallery (www.globetrottersbb.ca) is highly popular for its exotic comfort (including sleek new ensuite baths with each bedroom) and for its garden-fresh foods.

And if Ontario is not the first place that comes to mind for high quality wine, a few of the lesser known facts do speak for its esteem:

• Ontario is the largest wine region in Canada and its vineyards are on the same latitude as Burgundy in France.

• While Ontario is world-renowned for its Icewine, growers in this cool climate also excel in the aromatic white varietals of Chardonnay and Riesling, and red varietals such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet.

• Icewine is most often made from Vidal grapes, but there are many selections using vinifera varieties, such as Cabernet Franc and Riesling. Approximately 6,000 tonnes of Icewine grapes produce up to 960,000 litres of this Canadian specialty.

• The wine produced in Ontario would cover 1,134 Olympic ice rink surfaces.

• The decal VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) indicates official approval by this regulatory and appellation system and guarantees the high quality and authenticity. VQA tells the buyer, for example, that the wine is made of 100% Ontario-grown grapes.

• The wine made from Ontario's grapes generates 14,000 jobs, $593 million in wages, and $3.3 billion in economic impact.

Jane Stokes is a freelance writer and is a Canadian Chapter member in the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW).

www.newscanada.com

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