The Chardonnay Road Trip

Right off the top, I will tell you the amazing thing about this road trip.

It is only one possibility of many.

For example, this one was all about sampling Chardonnay in Twenty Valley. On my winery trips, I try to limit myself to four or five stops at the most. Now, there certainly are way more than four or five Chardonnay producers in Twenty Valley – and I haven’t even started on the Niagara-on-the-Lake ones. So, happily, I am already foreseeing a sequel or two of this particular trip.

Aside from this Chardonnay adventure, just think of all the wine road trips you could create. Say, one for each varietal. One for Twenty Valley, one for Niagara-on-the-Lake. You could mix and match – maybe hit two spots for bubbles, two spots for Sauvignon Blanc, two spots for Gamay. You could compare them in each region. Pick another varietal (or two). Repeat.

See?? The possibilities are endless.

Stay tuned. You might see many variations of these wine road trips here in the near future. Of course, I’d love to hear about the ones you come up with too.

But let’s get back to this one.

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There are two reasons why I chose to start off this potential series with a Chardonnay tour.

First, today – Thursday, May 26th – is Chardonnay Day. Yippee! A whole day dedicated to my favourite white wine. Instead of just sending out a tweet about what Chardonnay I’ll be drinking today (though of course I’ll still be doing that), I thought I could share a post about several beautiful Niagara Chardonnays. The second reason is that from July 22-24th, our region will be hosting the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (i4C). This event promises a whole weekend of tastings, seminars, and special feasts in honour of this glorious grape. I’m sure you’ve guessed that I’m really looking forward to July.

Because I’m a tad impatient, and can’t really wait until then, I decided to give myself a sneak peek at some of the Niagara producers who will be featured at i4C.

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Ken and I fuelled up with a couple of lattés for the road, and began our journey out to Twenty Valley.

It was such a beautiful day in wine country. Dare I say it? Summer is here.

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Our first stop was a winery I hadn’t been to yet. Believe it or not, there are a handful of local wineries that I still haven’t visited. But I have now crossed one more off the list.

Hidden Bench.

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Hidden Bench is located in such a peaceful spot. When we arrived, you could hear the wind gently whispering through the trees. You are surrounded by lovely vineyard views too.

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Wouldn’t this be a great spot to relax with friends, sip some wine, and take in the view?

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We ventured inside to the tasting room.

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Where we had a nice welcome and chat with the gentleman who poured for us. Turns out we both spent time this winter not too far from each other. Comparing travel notes usually makes for great conversation. Especially over a glass of Chardonnay.

Their 2013 Estate Chardonnay was the perfect way to start my day of touring. I will definitely be back to try more of their wines on another road trip.

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Our next stop was Malivoire.

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Where I was thrilled to be told there were six – yes, six! – Chardonnays for me to taste. Jay, who was pouring for me, said we had to start with some sparkling, their Bisous Brut. There’s Chardonnay in it, so it counts. This upped my potential samples to seven.

I was in seventh Chardonnay heaven.

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What an incredible range of Chardonnays. Each one different, unique in its own way. I would be thrilled to have bottles of every single one of them in my cellar.

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I also have to give a special mention to the Musqué Spritz. This one is so delicious. And you know what? It’s probably not a wine I would have tried on my own. Just read the description on their website  – typically words like “banana”, “vanilla cream soda”, and “low alcohol” would mean I’d pass this one right by.

This would have been a crying shame, my friends.

Perfectly balanced, fruity, but not too sweet, with that touch of effervescence. It’s perfect for a special brunch. For summer afternoons on the patio. A birthday celebration. Oh heck, it’s perfect for anytime in my world.

This just goes to show that you should always be open to trying wines that you think you might not like.

You just might surprise yourself.

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Stop number three was at 13th Street Winery.

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Before we go into the Chardonnay, I have to say how much I love the winery building at 13th Street. It’s a turn-of-the-century farmhouse that has been renovated into an absolutely stunning space. Light and airy, encircled by large windows showcasing the natural views of the property.

The Gallery will literally stop you in your tracks. This is one amazing space for private events. Just look at it.

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The Indonesian hardwood table is an incredible piece of art. On the walls, you are surrounded by artwork created by Canadian artists. Once again, you have a beautiful view. Let’s not forget you are also drinking wine here too. Could this space get any better?

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Off I went to get some Chardonnay. Ilya poured both of theirs for me.

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My particular favourite was the Sandstone Reserve.

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And on the way out, I took a peek into their other tasting area, where they will be holding unique wine and food experiences. 

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Don’t forget that 13th Street Bakery is there too, for all sorts of tempting goodies.

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My final Chardonnay quest location for that day was Westcott Vineyards.

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I’ve been to Westcott many times, and their Chardonnays have a special place in my heart.

So do Emma and Nellie. Just look at these adorable faces.

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I’ll tell you a little secret. I have a few friends who don’t like Chardonnay. At all. No matter what one I tell them to try, they remain unconvinced of the glories of this grape.

But guess what?

They’ve been won over by Westcott Chardonnays!

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I think that’s quite the endorsement.

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When you’re there, check out the dress made of Chardonnay labels.

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And after completing your tasting, make sure you spend some time in their outdoor area.

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The Muskoka chairs invite you to linger over a glass of Chardonnay.

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And it’s extra great when Emma keeps you company.

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Such a great beginning to a summer of Niagara wine road trips. My mind is whirling with all the various possibilities that could be done. I’d love to hear what ones you come up with too!

And to my fellow Chardonnay fans – let’s raise a glass today to this noble grape, to the talented people who produce it, and of course, to all of us who love it.

Hope I’ll see you at i4C in July!