The temperatures are rising, the sun is shining — spring is truly here. Which means it’s the perfect time to plan a trip out to one of Ontario’s fantastic wine regions!
Ravine Vineyard would be a terrific place to start your planning. There’s a lot of history on Ravine’s beautiful 34 acre property in the historic village of St. Davids, Ontario. Woodruff House (shown below) which houses the tasting room, was originally built in 1802 by David Secord, the namesake of St. Davids. If the name ‘Secord’ sounds familiar to you, he was the uncle of the famous Canadian Laura Secord.
Since 1867, generations of the Lowrey-Harber family have farmed the land on which Ravine Vineyard now sits. Today, this family-run organic and biodynamic vineyard and restaurant is one of my favourite destinations in Niagara.
Sheltered by the Niagara Escarpment, Ravine Vineyard is part of the St. David’s Bench sub-appellation and sits on the highest elevation of the bench which was formed by ancient glaciers. An ancient river bed once flowed through the property where Ravine is now, leaving behind a unique terroir, which winemakers Marty Werner and Ben Minaker take advantage of to consistently craft terrific wines expressing this terroir.
In addition to making fine wine, Ravine is also a farm that grows much of its own produce used in their farm-to-table restaurant. Under the guidance of Chef Ross Midgley, the restaurant follows organic and biodynamic farming practices and puts out a seasonal menu highlighting the bounty of the vineyard’s produce.
The restaurant has a warm rustic feel to it and overlooks the vineyard out back. On both of my visits, the food has been superb, with a nice selection of dishes that will please everyone from vegetarians to carnivores. Three of my favourites are shown below – all were sensational.
Roasted Fall Salad
In addition to the restaurant and tasting room, Ravine has a fantastic patio on which you can spend a warm, sunny afternoon, sipping on wine (or try their nice Lowrey Pear Cider) while overlooking the vineyard and listening to local musicians. There’s even an outdoor pizza oven (and the pizza is good) making the decision to eat inside or relax outdoors on the patio even tougher. Or if you have time, do both!
Last but certainly not least, the wines!
Ravine offers an entry-level ‘Sand & Gravel’ label of wines meant to be enjoyed right away, as well as more expensive ‘Estate’ and ‘Reserve’ wines which can certainly be enjoyed now or cellared for further aging.
So far I’ve opened the following bottles from my recent visits:
2016 Reserve Riesling (shown above): Made with organic grapes grown right at the winery, this off-dry riesling uses 30% botrytis affected grapes, which translates into big flavour. Delicious. I really enjoyed this one.
2014 Estate Merlot (below): A classic merlot with medium body and soft tannins. Ignore those who look down on merlot. This is a well made bottle of red that goes well with lots of different dishes including my favourite — margherita pizza.
I also picked up a bottle of the 2016 Botrytis-Affected Riesling which I haven’t opened yet (such willpower, ha) but will update this page when I do!
Location: Ravine Vineyard is located at 1366 York Road in St. Davids, Ontario – just an easy 15 minute drive from Niagara-on-the-Lake.
While in the area: Also consider visiting the tiny Five Rows Winery (just 3 minutes away , but check hours first as they are usually only open on weekends) or for great local beer and small bites, be sure to check out Silversmith Brewery in nearby Virgil (7 minute drive).
All photos by Adrian Berg.