Niagara-on-the-Lake - August 15-17

On the morning of August 15, Andrea and I got up early and checked out of the hotel and then hiked up to Grand Central Station where we caught the subway out to the AirTrain to JFK for our flight to Buffalo.  The flight on JetBlue was delayed nearly an hour by a maintenance issue, marking another delayed flight on this trip.

Upon arriving in Buffalo, we got our rental car and then went to lunch at Anchor Bar, the inventor of the Buffalo Wing.  We then drove out to Niagara-on-the-Lake and checked into A Vineyard View Bed and Breakfast

We then went to Peller Estates to ask for suggestions about packaging wine to take it home as checked baggage on the airline.  Since none of the wineries in that area routinely ship wine outside of Ontario, they didn’t have any good answers, so we decided to head back across the border and look for some suggestions online.  Everything suggested lots of bubble wrap, so we went to Target in Buffalo and picked up a couple of rubbermaid tubs and a lot of bubble wrap to package all of the wine we planned on buying. 

We then went to dinner at Chef’s, which is Andrea’s favorite restaurant in Buffalo.  It can best be described as a heart attack on a plate, but it is wonderful food.  We then headed back across the border to call it a night.

On the morning of the 16th, we got up for breakfast at the B&B.  The breakfast was very good and we got to chat with a pair of interesting couples from Ottawa and Montreal.  We then headed out to do wine tasting.

Our first stop was Caroline Cellars which was right next to our B&B.  Their wines are generally ok, but not the best of the area.  We then went over to Frogpond Farm, which is the only organic winery in the area.  They had a fabulous cabernet franc the last time we were there, but were all sold out of that but we did get a bottle of their cabernet merlot.

We then went over to Peller Estates, which is Andrea’s favorite winery.  We decided to take an “Art of Food and Wine” class that went through the basics of how to pair food and wine using Peller’s Ice Cuvee sparkling wine, chardonnay, and cabernet franc icewine paired with a watermelon soup, a corn salad, and a strawberry cream pastry.  After that class we went on a vineyard tour that had a tasting of the riesling and the riesling Icewine to see the differences of the wines made from the same grape harvested at different times.  We then went through the store and bought a whole case to take home as well as a decorative box signed by the winemaker.

Next we headed out to Jackson-Triggs, where our favorite is the cabernet franc rosé.  We then went to my favorite winery, Palatine Hills, where we tried pretty much everything and came back with a couple bottles of the cabernet franc, one of the gewürtztraminer icewine, and a few others.  We then followed up with brief visits to Stonechurch Vineyards, and Coyote’s Run.  Coyote’s Run is rapidly becoming one of my favorite wineries as well. 

We then headed up toward Toronto for dinner, trying to make a stop at Crown Bench Estates on the way but they were closed when we got there.  We then continued up to Toronto where we ran into the Blue Jays game day traffic since we were going to dinner at the 360 Restaurant at the CN Tower.  Dinner was wonderful and our timing was just about perfect as we got seated very shortly before sunset and got to watch the sun set to the west as we were getting our appetizers.  Following dinner we went back outside and took a bunch of pictures of the CN Tower and downtown Toronto before heading back to Niagara-on-the-Lake.

On the morning of the 17th, we got up for breakfast again at the B&B.  After another excellent breakfast, we finished packing everything for the trip home.  We then went down through downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake one last time and up to the confluence of the Niagara River with Lake Ontario.  Niagara-on-the-Lake is extremely beautiful at this time of year, with manicured flowers lining practically every street in the city. 

We then headed back across the border to Buffalo and headed out to the airport to catch our flight home.  Our flight out of Buffalo was delayed by AirTran due to a late arriving aircraft even though the weather seemed to be fine everywhere it would have flown from.  We finally arrived in Atlanta only to have our next flight delayed almost three hours, first due to weather, then to wait for connecting passengers who had also been delayed, and then because AirTran couldn’t bother to deal with maintenance paperwork in the first two hours of the delay.  We finally arrived in Denver around midnight, almost three hours late.  AirTran also has by far the worst leg room of any of the airlines we flew on and some of the worst customer service I’ve seen on any airline.  They are definitely an airline that I will avoid in the future.