Some people can be notoriously difficult to buy for – the minimalist, the person who has everything, those with very particular tastes… Those also tend to be the people who most enjoy intangible ‘experience’ gifts that involve the chance to try something new or take a break from the ordinary. Fortunately for us, living within a short drive of the Niagara region means that we have access to a wide variety of wine-related activities, many of which would make great gifts for the wine lovers in your life. If that describes someone on your list, read on to learn about some great (and affordable) wine-experience gift ideas.
WineFox.ca offers a number of affordable winery tours and tastings. As with all of the packages below, guests must arrange their own transportation to and from the wineries, but once there guests will enjoy a tour of the vineyard and/or cellars, premium wine tastings, and will even receive their own bottle of wine to take home with them (2 bottles between the 2 guests). Participating wineries include: Tawse Winery, Stoney Ridge Estate, Peninsula Ridge Winery, Henry of Pelham Family Estate, Flat Rock Cellars, Creekside, Colio Estate and Chateau des Charmes (approx. $80 for 2 people)
There are also many tour packages available from the wineries themselves. Chateau des Charmes, for instance, offers three different public tours and tastings, each focusing on a different aspect of wine production (and enjoyment!). There’s the “Winegrowing Discovery Tour” ($5 per person), which includes a guided tour of the facilities (including an overview of sustainable growing practices), a tour of the cellars and a sampling of three wines, and “Matchmaking 1.0” ($15), a guided wine tasting featuring three wines paired with Canadian artisanal cheeses. (Visit VQA Ontario’s website for lists of all Ontario VQA wineries and visit their websites to find similar tours and tastings)
Another winery worth visiting is Peller Estates. They offer a wide variety of wine tours and tastings, including many themed events such as “Chicks and Chocolate” (a wine-chocolate pairing experience; $15 per person) and “Does Shape Matter?” (an opportunity to learn about the effect different wine glasses have on your wine tasting experience; $15 per person). While you’re on their website, be sure to enter their contest – you could win a $1100 wine country getaway! See the contest website for full details.
Need a gift for a couple, or have some friends that might enjoy tagging along? Georgian Hills Vineyard in Collingwood, Ontario offers “Perfect Pairings” to small groups, by appointment ($20 per person). Included are 4 wines (including their Vidal 2008 “Frozen on the Vine” dessert wine) paired with local cheeses, paté and fruits. You’ll sample the wines and learn about how best to pair them for optimal enjoyment.
For those looking to get away for a day or two, Ontario Travel also offers wine getaways, such as the popular Icewine Festival Getaway to Niagara-on-the-lake ($265 per person, based on double-occupancy). Included are icewine tastings with Canadian icewine experts, overnight accommodations, and an icewine inspired dinner at a Signature Kitchens restaurant. There’s also the Lakeside Wine and Dine Getaway ($215 per person, double occupancy), which features two gourmet dinners (including one paired with local wines), a self-guided wine producer tour, and two nights accommodation, including breakfast, at The Victoria Inn in Gore’s Landing (approx. 1h 30min drive from Pickering).