Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Weekend Getaway

Kevin and I left work a bit early on Friday to head to Niagara Falls for the weekend – it’s about 1.5-2hrs southwest of Toronto. We got a Teambuy deal for a hotel for 2 nights for $69 (sah-weeeeet!) and then an R-Deals deal for wine tastings for 2 at 4 different wineries (and a chocolate factory) for $39! Great deals all around.

The first night we took a stroll around the Falls. I’d never seen them at night before. This is the only shot I managed to get that was overpowered by the crazy mist.
Niagara Falls at Night
The next day we did our tours. The four wineries were Joseph’s Estate Wines, Caroline Cellars, Riverview Cellars, and Reif Estate Winery. We also visited Chocolate F/X and a Peanut store. The way the tour was set up was pretty awesome – a mini bus picked us up from our hotel, then drove us to each of the locations, and then dropped us back off at the hotel. Kevin’s not a wine fan (except ice wine because it’s super sweet) so I drank most of his reds and whites and he drank most of my ice wines.
Tour Bus

In terms of decor, I liked Reif Estate Winery the best. It was definitely the most luxe among the group. I’d been looking forward to going there for a few months because I had some red wine at a friend’s house in the winter that came from this winery and they don’t sell it in the LCBO (pretty much the only store where people from Ontario can buy wine) so I wanted to buy a couple bottles. The wine was Gamay Cabernet if anyone’s interested – it’s delicious! Reif also had the best ice wine out of the wineries we visited. I think the Niagara Region produces most of the world’s ice wine. It’s definitely the wine I associate most with that area. The grapes for ice wine are harvested in the winter, creating an incredibly sweet wine – a dessert wine. Reif’s ice wine was the most mellow (I didn’t give that sample to Kevin lol) so I bought a bottle of that too.
Niagara Falls April 2012

In terms of the actual tastings, Caroline Cellars had it going on! They give each person a list of their wines and let you choose 4 from the list. I’ve done wine tastings at several wineries and this was the first place that let me choose my samples. So Kevin and I (mostly me lol) went down the list and chose 2 samples each of reds, whites, Rieslings, and ice wines. 

Here’s the wine I added to my collection:
  1. Caroline Cellars Riesling Late Harvest 2008 – 500mL
  2. Joseph’s Estate Wines Late Harvest Vidal 2008 – 375mL
  3. Riverview Cellars Fontana Dolce 2010 Vintage – 750mL
  4. Reif Estate Winery Gamay Cabernet 2011 – 750mL x 2 bottles
  5. Reif Estate Winery Vidal Ice Wine 2010 – 200mL
I haven’t bought this much sweet wine at one time since my university days when I’d buy 1.5L of strawberry Zinfandel for my Friday nights out… so classy!

The tour bus also stopped at Chocolate F/X. A guide explained to us how the chocolate is made and the shipping processes. Most of the chocolate gets sent to third party retailers who wrap the chocolate in their own brand’s labels. The sample set up here was awesome. It was basically Bulk Barn, but free... And ALL CHOCOLATE!!!
kid in a candy store

It got pretty crazy up in the sample section for a good 5-10 minutes. There were about 20 of us on the tour and there was no lining up whatsoever…everyone just rushed the chocolate. It was hilarious.

That night we went downtown for dinner and stopped by for some photos

On Sunday we did a bit of shopping at an outlet mall near our hotel. I bought a new pair of running shoes, which I have been needing for way too long. My old pair had no more cushioning and a hole in the right shoe!

Have you been to the Falls lately? Maybe for a little cross-border shopping…

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