Canada is a beautiful country. We often forget how many incredible getaway opportunities we have in our own backyard. I recently got to experience Ontario's Southwest when I visited the Lake Erie North Shore wine region.
Not only is this place breathtakingly beautiful as it is situated right on Lake Erie, there is so much to do in the region. The region has several cycling trails, historical sites and hiking opportunities.
Predictably, however, my top 5 reasons similarly involve a good beverage and a cool place to eat.
1. THE WINE
It's no surprise that this is my number 1 reason to visit. Lake Erie North Shore is evolving from a part of the province that was once dominated by tobacco to a region with over a dozen wineries emerging with great potential.
The Vintage Tasting at Cooper's Hawk Vineyards, one of Epic Wine Country's annual wine events, gave me the opportunity to taste the local wine. From fun and bubbly to ripe and serious reds, I quickly concluded that although adapting and coming into their own more and more, this region is one to watch for wines of the future.
Did you know that this south reaching region has the longest growing season of all Ontario wine appellations? The weather is warmer and the lake helps mediate the climate. This means, the grapes can ripen optimally.
For this reason, the winemakers of the region strongly believe in their red wine production.
2. THE WHISKY
Windsor is the home to the famous Canadian Club whisky distillery where founder Hiram Walker found great success with his sons (Walker and Sons Ltd.) and began to build Walkerville, the charming community, directly across the river from Detroit.
Windsor Eats co-founder, Adriano, hosted us as we toured the Canadian Club Brand Centre and explored Hiram's whisky palace with an Old Fashioned cocktail in hand.
The region is also home to emerging whisky producer, Wolfhead Distillery where barrel expert turned distiller, Tom Manherz and his wife, are producing small batch vodka, whisky and flavoured selections whilst managing their brand new on-site restaurant.
3. THE BEER
When you're spoiled with non-stop wine and whisky, sometimes all you need is a cold beer.
If (more like when) you take the Windsor Eats Walking Tour of Walkerville, you will visit the Walkerville Brewery along the way and if you're like me, you'll then attempt to carry growlers full of their delicious Stout and IPA along with you for the rest of the walking tour (worth it).
There are 6 local breweries, so your options remain open as you sip through the region.
You can also take part in Barrels, Bottles & Brews, or one of the many tasting events that take place throughout the year if you're not already in town for a major music festival.
4. THE FOOD
We're all responsible adults, so when we indulge in this much wine, whisky and beer, we're going to need a good place to fill our liquid-solid stomachs.
You could double-decker dine at Birdie's Perch "Bustaurant" where I was privy to the best darn perch tacos I've ever tasted.
You could brunch at Merlis' Coffehouse & Eatery while also appreciating the local art he showcases on his walls and whilst he talks your ear off about the community and the world at large.
In need of more liquid libations? You could hit up The Willistead for a great cocktail list and a bartender who can recommend great bourbon to pair with your local fare.
Or, if you really want to indulge in the best gastro-pub-grub you'll ever find, you could visit Walkerville Eatery, a new father and son run restaurant in the area with a menu of gourmet sliders, unique wood-oven pizza selections and the most epic Ceasar ever!
These are only a few of the many charming places to eat not even including the dining options in some of the wineries, distilleries and breweries.
5. THE SLEEP
Now that you've eaten and drank your way through South Western Ontario, you're going to want to relax and sleep for a really long time.
I'm told by the locals that if you make your way (via ferry) out to Pelee Island, you will not only get to visit another winery, but you'll be in a very serene and remote world where you can camp or enjoy a bed and breakfast. I'll check this out for myself as soon as I head back to this way for another vacay.
If you're looking for the most relaxing little getaway, you'll need to check out the newest local boutique hotel in the heart of Kingsville. The Grove Hotel (soon to also be home to another local brewery and restaurant) will charm its way right into your heart.
This hotel only has 18 rooms, all of which have their own unique theme.
All top 5 reasons have one major thing in common. The people. Every single person I had the pleasure of meeting was fun, welcoming and down-to-earth. The easy-going way of life is adapted by the locals and is exuded as you visit the local eateries, wineries and shops.
If these 5 perfect reasons weren’t enough, the tourism team put together a total of 60 reasons highlighting the best of the west. What more do you need?