Sunday, July 21, 2013

History, Wineries and More in Niagara Falls

The morning started at The Giacomo in Niagara Falls, with their delicious European style breakfast. My friend Lynn and I each had a full plate of eggs, potatoes and a danish in preparation of a full day of walking – and wine tasting.

Michelle Blackley of Niagara USA picked us up for our private tour of Old Fort Niagara, which is just across from Toronto, Canada.  It has become an important part of history for the United States, France and Great Britain as all fought for control of the Great Lakes region.

Today Old Fort Niagara stands above Lake Ontario much as it had three hundred years ago. It is a NY State Historic Site, as well as a National Historic Landmark, and well worth touring for the glimpse into past history it offers.

After touring the fort we were off to the Niagara Wine Trail. While it’s not an area ready to rival New York’s Finger Lakes, I was impressed with the variety offered in this area because of the longer growing season this region offers as Lake Ontario never freezes.

Our first stop was Freedom Run Winery. They manage to cover both ends of the spectrum. They have a fantastic 2011 Vin Gris Estate, a dry rose from pinot noir, merlot and cabernet with a strawberry nose and the taste of ripe berries.  On the other end, they make a gew├╝rztraminer that’s floral, tropical and refreshing and delicious fruit “nektars” that aren’t too sweet (the raspberry was my favorite).

Arrowhead Springs Vineyard was the next stop and here I also found a mixture from dry reds to sweet whites. I even discovered a 2009 Sauvignon Blanc that was almost as grassy and tropical as the New Zealand ones. It’s the ice wines, though, Arrowhead is famous for and I couldn’t argue with that fact after tasting the 2005 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine. It was a luscious combination of green apple, apricot, pineapple and mango that’s a bargain at $40.00.

Eveningside Vineyards was our final winery of the day and I discovered that there were even more grapes growing in this area as I tasted the 2011 Crofton Street Catawba with a hint of apricot in a semi dry rose.  They also impressed me with the 2011 Raven, a riesling and chardonnay combo that tasted like an apple-pear combination on a fresh summer day.

We stopped at Macri’s Italian Grille, a local favorite, for lunch and I enjoyed my eggplant rollatini and Beans & Greens Soup before it was time for me to relax at the Barton Hill Hotel & Spa in Lewiston while Lynn spent some time walking around this quaint town.

I really liked this large inn off the pier, but was even happier to be in their quiet spa for my facial, which included a steam, clarifying cleanser, exfoliator, avocado and peppermint oil cream mask, d├ęcolletage and scalp massage and a correcting moisturizer.

We had been scheduled to stay in Lewiston for lunch at Carmelo’s, but we weren’t yet hungry and opted to head back to the hotel. After a rest we walked down to the Seneca Niagara Casino and filled up on their new buffet, one of the largest I’ve ever seen. The food was fresh and filling.


All too soon the Buffalo/Niagara trip was over, but I’m sure it won’t be another 20 years until I’m back in this area. 


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