“Niagara Falls, slowly I turn…step by step…inch by inch” and if you are of my generation one cannot say Niagara Falls without either saying that phrase or thinking it, all thanks to The Three Stooges and their comedy shorts from the Thirties, that enjoyed a great revival in the Sixties. The wine country was beckoning to us once again, and the Niagara Escarpment seemed to be a wonderful choice. I guess it had been longer then I realized, as even the currency had changed, I was used to the fact that that they now used one dollar and two dollar coins, but even the currency was now plastic and rather slippery compared to what we are used to here in the states. It had been a couple of years since we had gone there and it was worthy of another trip. Every fall we like to go somewhere between our two birthdays and to celebrate another anniversary. The last time we had been there we had stayed at a spa, and this time we were going to do a “bed and breakfast,” as my Bride is partial to them.
It took longer to get there, then we had planned, due to crossing international borders and construction on the highways, but we were on vacation, so we were not in a hurry. Now my family is from Canada, so I basically knew the route, but today’s GPS systems gave us a way to get there, so I missed one of my favorite sites as we were entering into Hamilton, but since it was during the day and not at night, the view would not have been as dramatic anyways. Passing Hamilton which is the last leg of the drive towards Niagara Falls, I was amazed at all of the wineries we started to pass, so far from the Falls. All the areas that we passed were at one time either vacant lands or farm lands that did not warrant Provincial signage for the wineries that are becoming destination centers for wine lovers. As we got to the city of St. Catherines, which I have visited my whole life, it seems that wineries have become the norm, as the signage almost became funny, there were that many listed along the Queen Elizabeth Way, and we hadn’t even got to Niagara-On-The-Lake.
On our way to the “bed and breakfast” we drove through the downtown area and it seems that the area keeps expanding; originally this area was known for music festivals and the Shaw Festival, as in George Bernard Shaw. I think the whole area has become eclipsed by the wine industry, with thirty-five wineries in their own Ontario appellation, which was all originally the center of wax cherry orchards and the main supplier to the Maraschino Cherry industry. It now reminds me of the Traverse City area of Michigan, which also was famed for their cherry harvests and now more popular for their grape harvests as well. One thing that amazed me as we drove around to settle in was that every winery that I saw was impressive, there were no “garage” wineries for start-ups, they were all magnificent. After we unpacked and met our hosts for our stay, the next couple of days we had the good fortune to meet a couple that were in from Montreal and another couple that lived half the year in England and the other half in Spain, so we were regaled with some great stories each morning over some of the best breakfasts that were worthy of fine restaurants. Our hosts also had a side table set up with brochures about local wineries, as well as complimentary wine tasting cards that we could redeem. Some of the cards were used and there will be articles about the wineries that we visited soon, and like all trips, this one ended too quickly, but we did have a couple of cases of souvenirs for gifts and personal consumption to celebrate the trip.