Where to eat and drink in Ontario’s Wine Country, according to Toronto foodies

Where to eat and drink in Ontario’s Wine Country, according to Toronto foodies

Local tastemakers dish on their favourite places to dine and sip

As the summer days get shorter, many Torontonians look for ways to relish that last bit of summer before fall sets in. Home to world-class wineries and next-level culinary delights, Ontario VQA Wine Country—made up of the Prince Edward County, Lake Erie North Shore, Niagara Escarpment and Niagara-on-the-Lake areas—is the place to get away and savour the last sips of summer against a backdrop of stunning vistas just a short drive from Toronto. With more than 180 wineries, each with unique stories and bottles, VQA wineries are leaders in crafting cool-climate wines that reflect the province’s unique terroir—an extraordinary combination of latitude, lakes and limestone—and sense-of-place flavours.

Love a bone-dry wine or looking for a winery that’s certified sustainable? Find your perfect local bottle with the VQA Wine Matchmaker.

Need help tasting your way through these regions and discovering new wines to bring home? We spoke to food entrepreneur and sommelier-in-training Tishuani Bird and TikTok food influencer Hanna Kim-Yoo as well as David Ngyuen, owner of food industry resto favourite Vit Beo, about some of their go-to establishments and favourite bottles.

Prince Edward County

Stunning sandy beaches, soothing countryside views and a booming culinary scene only about two hours from Toronto have put “The County” on the map. This area’s generally cool climate and classic limestone-based soils make for a unique winemaker playground, including a range of large wineries like Grange of Prince Edward and Waupoos Estates, as well as smaller boutique vineyards like Keint-He and Lighthall.

“I’ve really been into the Traynor Family Vineyard lately. I’m a sucker for trying new wines that are experimental and different from your traditional glass,” says Bird. “I’m particularly interested in trying their Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb. It’s a Clarete, an ancient Spanish technique which is a blend of both white and red grapes co-fermented.”

And for places to dine? “I recommend stopping at La Condesa for authentic Mexican cuisine. They offer a wide range of different tacos, and their tortillas are made in-house and fresh to order. Hot tip: Although they don’t take reservations, they do have a virtual queue that you can sign up for.”

More award-winning wines to try in Prince Edward County:

2019 Churchside Pinot Noir by Closson Chase

2019 South Clos Chardonnay by Closson Chase

Learn more about wineries, restaurants and accommodations in Prince Edward County.

Niagara Escarpment and Niagara-on-the-Lake

When small-town charm meets killer views only about 90 minutes from Toronto, you know you’re in the Niagara Peninsula. Make your way through the Niagara Escarpment and Niagara-on-the-Lake areas to sip and dine at some of the most esteemed vineyards in the world, like Cave Spring Vineyard and Trius Winery. Make sure you take a few days to explore; the Niagara Peninsula is vast and dotted with more intimate craft wineries, like 180 Estate Winery, Back 10 Cellars and Ferox, that are worth stepping off the beaten path for.

On innovative craft wineries, Hanna shares: “We love Rosewood. They have a massive selection of products. I’m a sucker for good branding and their bottles and labels are always so fun, which is a big bonus when the wine is good, too! Because of this, I find that their bottles make great gifts for dinner parties and housewarmings, she says. “I love to hang out at Two Sisters Vineyards for a contrasting vibe. It’s a bit more upscale; both the experience and even packaging are true to that classic, fancy wine experience.”

On places to eat, she tells us that she loves going for a drive and finding somewhere new to grab a bite every visit. The best way to curate your dining itinerary? Wine Country Ontario’s list of restaurants to visit in the Niagara Escarpment and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

More award-winning wines to try in Niagara Escarpment and Niagara-on-the-Lake:

2016 Cuvée Catharine Blanc de Blanc “Carte Blanche” by ​​Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery

2017 Chestnut Tree Cabernet Franc by Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery

2018 Terroir Chardonnay Canadian Oak by Strewn Winery

Discover more places to eat, drink and stay during your trip to the Niagara Escarpment and Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Lake Erie North Shore

Just a few hours from Toronto, Lake Erie North Shore is Ontario’s warmest grape-growing region. Lake Erie North Shore‘s long growing season and the quick summer warming of Lake Erie’s shallow waters make early harvests a regular occurrence at the more than 20 wineries in this region. Weave your way down country roads for lake views and a low-key, ultra-relaxing wine and food experience.

Ngyuen says Colio Estate Wines is a don’t-miss. “They were pioneers in setting up the region’s wine-making industry,” he explains. “As someone who consciously serves up heritage and history in every bite at Vit Beo, this is something I always appreciate at other establishments. It also helps that the entire estate is an incredible visual experience, too.”

“Because of the love of ingredients that my whole kitchen team and I have, I also really appreciate what’s happening over at North 42 Degrees Estate. Dining there is a true farm-to-table experience.”

More award-winning wines to try in Lake Erie North Shore:

2019 Empress II Sparkling VQA by Pelee Island Winery

2012 Naturally Selected Pinot Noir by Viewpointe Estate Winery

Vinedresser Meritage VQA by Pelee Island Winery

Discover more places to eat, drink, and stay during your Lake Erie North Shore trip.

Ready to experience the wonder of Wine Country Ontario? Plan your next trip with help from the Ontario VQA’s Trip Planner and Travel Guide.