It is no shock that I try to share fun new ways to travel and how to accomplish the same experience with you and your loved ones as often as I can. I think that’s actually been one of my favourite parts here at the blog – travel feeds the soul and allows me the chance to have experiences like no other. From quaint hotels and farms just north of the city of Toronto, to jet setting around the world, it’s something that has been a lot of fun to share with you. So in the spirit of travel in 2019, I thought I would share six travel secrets with you to make the best Ontario road trip you’ll take all year!
You’ll notice that lately I’ve been really focusing on wine, food, family and how they all work together in my life to make it better. Maybe it’s my age or the fact that my birthday is around the corner. Maybe it’s that I just am coming to reevaluate what is really important… regardless, here are six fun ways to travel in Ontario this year alongside six beautiful destinations. So pack up your Volvo Canada (my vehicles of choice with Julio and our growing family this year as you’ve seen) and hit the road with me.
1.Find a destination that’s beautiful all year round
While touring wineries in Ontario is amazing in the summer, I actually love going to see what they’re like in the autumn and winter months. Canadian winters, although long, are some of the most picturesque in the world in my opinion.
Winery: 13th Street- https://13thstreetwinery.com/ – while visiting, make sure to pick up the 2017 Gamay. Fun fact about their establishment and brand is that they are one of the pioneers of serious Gamay in the Niagara region and have helped to propel Ontario wines to worldwide recognition. And their winery is in full production all year long for visits – thought I’d suggest this time of year if I’m being honest.
2. Support local as much as you can
I used to be notorious when I hit the road. I’d get the same chain fast food, the same iconic coffee brand. One day it hit me that many of these destinations and their surroundings rely on tourism as a major source of income. So instead, grab a bite at the cafe or restaurant. Buy a coffee at the local shop – it can make the biggest of differences, and in my opinion the best of memories.
Winery: Flat Rock Cellars- https://flatrockcellars.com/ – and while you’re there make sure to pick up a bottle (or case) of their iconic Twisted. Fun facts about Flat Rock Cellars are numerous, but they are one of Ontario’s 12 certified sustainable wineries which is not easy to achieve or maintain.
Flat Rock Cellars is one Ontario’s only gravity flow facilities. The unique structure of our production facility utilizes gravity to transport the wine throughout the building. This is the most gentle way to handle the wine, not to mention environmentally friendly. This system minimizes the use of pumps in the wine making process which reduces our use of electricity and the gentle handling of fruit ensures the purity of the fruit.
3. Make new traditions, new friends and new memories
This one is for those sentimentalists out there like me who will find a winery (or six) and visit them every summer or season for the rest of their lives because of the magical experience they have. Although I love discovering new things, I am a creature of habit. Just like sipping on Ladybug Rosé and remembering being a student in Ottawa, working at a restaurant, and sipping on a glass of this with my fellow servers after our shift. It’s actually probably one of my favourite wines in the world if I’m being honest – not only because it’s delicious, but because of the memories of that tradition.
Winery: Malivoire – https://malivoire.com/ – fun fact about this beautiful Rosé is that it was first established as a symbol of balance and sustainability. Now Malivoire is one of a handful of Ontario wineries that are certified sustainable, both in the vineyard as well as in the wine making facility.
4. Put down the phone
Funny that I’m saying this on a blog you’re probably reading on your phone, but I mean it. As someone who is always on his phone, I find the moments where I’m not so magical. To be present in the moment – during the tasting or tour of a winery, is the best way to enjoy it. You can take a photo, and share the memory, but remember that the ones you’re with deserve just as much attention as your screen. Trust me on this one…
Winery: Westcott- https://www.westcottvineyards.com/ – make sure to pick up a bottle of the Estate Pinot Noir 2016 which is a beautiful wine to give as a host gift or to enjoy on a quiet night cuddling with that certain someone. A fun fact about Westcott is that the main building on the Westcott home farm is constructed from a reclaimed 200-year-old timber frame and foundation from a barn a few kilometres away. Not only is it stunning, but speaks to the heritage and family behind this brand which I love.
5. Think outside of the box and try something new!
Many times people assume that just because Canadian wine and winemakers are deemed “new world” that we are sub-par. The truth is that we are exactly the opposite is so many ways. Nominated in and winning awards around the world, in my opinion Canadian wines are set to make a huge step forward in the coming years on the global stage because of the passion we put into our wine making.
Winery: Cave Spring – pick up a bottle of their 2017 Riesling Estate and be prepared to fall in love with a bottle of wine. Elegantly balanced, it pairs with cheese and charcuterie the next time you host a dinner party. Fun fact about Cave Springs is that Winery co-founder Len Pennachetti wrote the original regulations for the VQA back in 1988, when the body that governs the production of 100% Ontario grown wine was first established. That’s actually so amazing to know and learn about when you visit!
6. Respect the process and the people
This one is something I didn’t realize I would need to mention, but it’s always a shame when you make a trip and are alongside people who clearly don’t care or are being disruptive. If you aren’t planning on learning from a tour or winemaker during an opportunity, do you best to not interrupt them. Be respectful that it take a special kind of people to work the way a winemaker works – that deserves your full attention and respect. But we Canadians know that already!
Winery: Stratus – and you simply MUST get a bottle of Stratus Cab Franc. This is elegance bottled in my opinion from one of the most chic wineries I have been lucky enough to visit. Their facility, staff and tours are immaculate. Fun fact about Stratus is they have always been driving innovation with their industry leading decisions and standards. Located in the historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Stratus Vineyards is a gravity flow winery, distinguished by its LEED-certified facility, its commitment to sustainability and wines of outstanding quality.
And of course if you need help with these and other wineries, I know just the people to turn to. Somewhereness is a gathering of some of the best in wine making world, and they are here to help make your experiences perfect in every way.
“What kind of a word, a notion, is Somewhereness®? To 13 makers of wine in Ontario, Somewhereness is revealed in the mysterious time capsules we know as bottles of wine. As ethereal gifts of a carefully tended location and a moment in time, each is imprinted with a vineyard’s sense of place, its soil, climate, seasons, vintage variations — and its maker’s methods.” Head to www.somewhereness.com/ for more details.
Hit the road, explore the region, ask the questions and enjoy the most amazing roadtrip of 2019 with these six beautiful destinations.
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Don’t forget to be kind & laugh a little more this year
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