Part of Ontario Winemaking History
Peller Estates Winery | Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
This article also appears on TripAdvisor and Urbanicity.
What does Wine and winemaking have to do with a Food culture column? Everything, wine is used in the cooking process but most of all it is a beverage of choice dating back thousands of years.
Vineyards and viticulture create magnificent landscapes and enhance the countryside with both the planted material and the architecture of wineries.
We are quite fortunate that the best known wine regions are within an hour drive of Hamilton so let’s tell the story one winery at a time.
It’s spring in Ontario and wine country is coming back to life. After all the pruning of the vines and carefully monitoring for frost damage all winter, which can still occur until Mid May, Wineries and vineyards are now a tourist as well as a local destination weekdays and weekends.
Ontario has a number of wine regions, Prince Edward County, Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island and Niagara plus the emerging regions throughout Southern Ontario. Within the Niagara Region sub-regions are known as Niagara Escarpment and Twenty Valley and Niagara on The Lake. The Beamsville bench would belong to the former Escarpment…
Starting with Niagara On The Lake, we have visited the Tasting room and Restaurant at Peller Estate, one of the best known vineyards and winery in the area. The tasting room is quite impressive in size and décor and allows large groups to carryout tastings at the wrap around counter. All is efficient and the place is buzzing with activity. Staff help with finding the bottles one may wish to purchase and pass them on the point of sale and all is cleared fast.
The Peller Estate Winery Restaurant as it is called is one of the finest in this province. The furniture layout and style is opulent yet discreet and elegant. Staff wear formal attire and move between tables with ease. The menu is the creation of Chef Jason Parsons and a talented team he leads.
Chef Parsons is a well known TV personality on Cityline. On Saturdays the lunch menu allows for 3 options: Wine paring, Brunch or Lunch. Opting for lunch I was able to confirm the immense talent labouring in the kitchen and the winemaking excellence for which they are well known since Grandpa Peller obtained his Winemaking license in 1969.
A Halibut roulade was the amuse bouche provided before the appetizers and we paired it with a Signature series Ice Cuve Rose. This is a sparkling made in the “methode traditionelle” (in French – this is all about not saying Champagne as it is a protected label an can only be used on Sparking wines produced in Champagne, France) Interestingly enough Champagne, France is located near the northern limit of the wine world along the 49th parallel quite similar latitude although Niagara at the US border is below that (it ranges in Ontario from 41st to the 52nd considered part the Northern grape growing belt). Then we enjoyed a smoked trout and a “Rillette of rabbit”. Both were superbly done but more intriguing was the rillette as it tasted great, because I was more familiar with rillette of duck but rabbit was new to me. The presentation was exquisite and the service flawless.
The main course were a house made pasta with swiss chards in a creamy sauce an a lamb shank topped with a lamb sausage with a puree and greens. Needless to say that the taste was refined and flavours balanced to a fault. We paired the dishes with a Cabernet Franc from the Estate, a great wine easy to drink with both structure and fruitiness.
I will keep abreast of my Winery tours throughout Spring and summer as we have this incredible destination starting in less than hour drive next door. Let’s enjoy it fully.