The Virginia Grape
Statistically, the average wine tourist visits only two wineries. This is because wine drinkers have broad interests and when vacationing in a region, they are frequently drawn toward points of interest beyond wineries. As a result, planning can involve researching lodging, dining options, transportation and local attractions in addition to figuring out which wineries to explore.
There are plenty of resources to help with one or more of these research topics, but there are few comprehensive sources that tie together all of them and this is particularly true of the wine component. Fortunately, “The Wine Sisters,” Erin and Courtney Henderson, recognized the lack of accurate and comprehensive information available to wine travelers. They stepped in to help fill the void with the 2017 edition of Lake Ontario Uncorked.
The Henderson’s book takes a broad look at touring Canada’s Niagara Peninsula and Prince Edward County. Using Toronto and Buffalo as the entry points, the guide outlines a variety of day trips and weekend excursions. Some of the proposed itineraries include more wineries than the average wine tourist will likely visit, but that seems to provide options. Latter sections of the book build other tourist stops into the itineraries and all of the weekend tours include lodging recommendations.
Using Toronto and Buffalo as the starting points for wine tours addresses the obvious fact that visitors will be American as well as Canadian. Moreover, it recognizes two of the largest local population centers that are positioned to take advantage of day trips into wine country.
Based on the cover, Lake Ontario Uncorked appears to be simply an accumulation of itineraries, but it does offer something more. The Wine Sisters also supply information for those unfamiliar with the region or even the process of visiting a tasting room and sampling the wine. Sections in the front and back of the book include a regional overview, information on tasting etiquette, a small glossary, a list of wine descriptors and pages for notes.
Perhaps the most important (and my favorite) elements of the guide are the overviews of each winery, restaurant, lodging option or point of interest. The Wine Sisters often include an “insider’s tip.” These helpful hints range from dog friendly venues to endorsements of particular menu items. It is a nice touch that indicates the authors have more than a passing familiarity.
Wine may be the catalyst, but it is not the only motivator for travel. Hours can be spent on researching a region to cobble together an itinerary. Erin and Courtney Henderson understand this and have composed a reference that addresses the problem. If exploration of the Lake Ontario wine regions is on your radar, Lake Ontario Uncorked is the best single-source guide devoted exclusively to designing a wine vacation.
Advocating for under-appreciated wine regions in the Eastern United States