This coming weekend is the last weekend of Niagara’s Wine Fest (previously known as the Grape and Wine Festival), where wineries all over the Niagara Region open their doors for tastings and tours. People from all over come to celebrate the area and indulge in our favourite nectar that comes from the grape. This year you can purchase Discovery Passes, where you pay $40 to experience 8 different wineries as well as food pairings that match it. Sounds delicious right?! If you have a chance head towards Niagara this weekend and do some exploring! I’ll be doing so with a few friends this coming Sunday, so be prepared for more wine talk soon!
In preparation for the upcoming wine weekend, I thought I’d enjoy the beautiful sunshine while exploring a new local winery. One of the great things about living in St Catharines is that we’re close to wine country – this winery is even close enough for me to walk! And after seeing this winery, I think I’ll be walking to and from a few times in the future.
Small Talk Vineyards is an adorable breath of fresh air in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Many people (myself included) think that wine tasting can get a little stuffy at times, but that’s not the case here! Their handwritten signage is a treat to the eye as you’re immediately greeted with a quaint, homey patio. Upon stepping into the main building we were welcomed by their lovely staff. I informed them that I had an expired Groupon for a tasting and a wagon ride around the vineyard, and they said they’d honour it no problem. Talk about customer service!
While waiting for the wagon tour as it operates at 1pm and 4pm, we decided to begin our wine tasting. We sampled both their 2013 Riesling and 2013 Riesling-Gewurtztraminer. Both are delicious and not overly sweet for a Riesling which is refreshing. However, I’m usually religious to Riesling, but their Riesling-Gewurtztraminer was my favourite. It was extra smooth and you couldn’t taste any of the alcohol… and at 13% this is a dangerous combination! The best part however? Their branding! They pride themselves on filling the gap between what you say (front of the bottle) and what you’re really thinking (back). Anyone who knows me will understand why I immediately fell in love with it. For those that don’t: the sassiness speaks to me.
We then met our tour guide Lambert who told us more about the winery’s history as well as their process. They started farming here in the 1950s where they cultivated the land to better harvest grapes. Originally the land was extremely wet and swampy, so they dug ¾ of a metre downwards and installed a pipeline between every other line of grapes. This allows the water to collect below the vines where they can still access the water, but they don’t have to worry about them drowning in it. They have a variety of grapes allowing them to produce over 5 types of red and white wines along with a few ice wines.
Also, Small Talk Vineyards used to be known as Stonechurch Winery. The eldest son phased it out about three years ago to rebrand it as not only a winery but also a cidery. By doing this they opened their doors to the world of cider making, where they have three types available: their Shiny Apple Cider which is available in many LCBO locations, a cider avec pino noir, and a cranberry cider. All of their ciders have no added sugar as “apples are sweet enough.” After tasting them I had to take some home, and you can do so by purchasing a growler of any of their ciders for $20 and to refill it is $15. Hence why I said I’d be back – their cranberry cider is to die for!
Small Talk Vineyards is unique for not only its amazing wine but its sass and character. The winery doesn’t only offer tasting however. They love having parties where you can BYOG (bring your own grub) and indulge in their delicious wines. Not only this, but they offer a barrel tasting experience where you learn more about their process and the Niagara Region, or you can take their Mixology 101 where you learn to make delicious cocktails featuring their products. To find out more, check out their website!
If you’re in wine country and are looking for a more personable, relaxed atmosphere then Small Talk Vineyards is the winery for you. Open all year round, you can enjoy their refreshing whites in the summer sun or cuddle up in front of their fireplace with a glass of red. Plus I might even see you there! Cheers!