The Niagara Wine Trail, USA offers over 22 wineries, breweries and cideries, spanning across three counties. With so many to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming where to begin, or how to plan a wine tour. We've complied a list of 10 wine touring tips to ensure an enjoyable and memorable experience while exploring the wine region.
1. Plan your route
Whether you're driving yourself or hiring a car service or limo, you can begin at any winery along the Niagara Wine Trail, USA. Some wineries are located close by each other, while others are located a little further away. Plan your route prior and view the wine trail map for a better understanding of where everything is located.
Tip: Extend your stay! There are plenty of accommodations throughout Niagara County including hotel, motels, quaint bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals, too. Browse available accommodations and packages here.
2. Watch the time
Be sure not to head out too early, or plan to stay out too late. Many of the wineries open between 10am and 12pm (NOON) and close by 6pm, daily. If you plan to visit during the off-season (December - April), the wineries often have limited schedules and hours. Before you go, call ahead or visit the website for updated information.
3. Drink Responsibly
Small tastings here and there can add up and you'll end up drinking more than you realize. Be sure to pace yourself or use the spill buckets that are placed on the counter to dump unwanted wine, this allows for more tastings without over-indulging.
Tip: Many of the wineries offer food, snacks or a small café during peak season. There are also several restaurants along the wine trail, so grab yourself a bite to eat and refuel between wineries.
4. View the Calendar of Events
View the Niagara Wine Trail, USA events calendar before venturing out. Every year, the wine trail offers 8 major ticketed-events which include tastings, food samplings and a wine glass. During these events, the wineries tend to get a little crowded, so if you prefer a more intimate setting, plan around the events if you can.
5. book a guided tour
Many tour companies offer guided tours along the Niagara Wine Trail, USA - perfect for any occasion. For one price, you can join a tour group and visit several wineries with a local expert and enjoy the scenery along the way. If you're with a group of friends, it can sometimes get a little rowdy! If you're seeking more of an educational and quiet tasting experience, you may want to consider driving yourself around with a close companion.
6. How many wineries to visit and how much will it cost?
Depending on how you decide to get around, don't plan on trying to do more than 4 or 5 wineries in one day. Each winery typically gives you 3-5 tastings which range in price from $2-5 per tasting, depending on the type of wine you want to try. Give yourself enough time at each winery to sample and shop around. If you're driving yourself, you may want to select only 3 or 4 wineries to visit and be sure to take advantage of the spill bucket for unwanted wine. If you're visiting for an extended period of time, or a local, purchase a Vino Visa Passport; save on wine purchases and wine tastings, as well as coupons for transportation, local restaurants, lodging and more.
Tip: Remember! It's always best to bring a designated driver no matter how much you plan to drink.
7. Don't forget your wallet
While tastings only cost a few dollars, all the wineries sell bottles of the wines you are tasting. If you find something you love, support the local economy and grab a bottle to bring home. Most of the wineries also have gift shops that sell wine accessories like bottle holders, wine corks, charms and so much more! Be careful about wine purchases if you are planning to cross the border into Canada and check out what you're allowed to bring over.
8. Bring Your ID
The legal drinking age in New York State is 21, so in order to taste or purchase bottles you may be asked to show ID. It's best to have your ID ready with you upon arrival.
Tip: Many of the wineries serve grape juice for kids too, if you have young ones in tow!
9. visiting the wineries with a large group
Many of the wineries welcome large groups traveling by bus or limo. If you plan to bring a group (more than 5 or 6 people), it's recommended that your driver calls ahead at least 10-15 minutes before arrival so servers can be prepared. Keep in mind that several wineries are family-friendly establishments, so be respectful to other guests, as well as to the service providers at each winery. It's easy to let the wine get ahead of you!
10. We have Beer too!
If you're a beer lover, you've come to the right place. Niagara County now offers 4 breweries who produce their own beer on-site. Visit Woodcock Brothers Brewery, NY Beer Project, Barker Brewing or Becker Brewing at Becker Farms. A few of them offer pub food, too -- the perfect complement to a cold beer!