With so many wineries, breweries and cideries to choose from, it can be a bit overwhelming knowing where to begin, or how to plan a wine tour. Here, we’ve rounded up our advice for planning the perfect wine-tasting experience in the Niagara Falls, New York region.
Plan Your Route
Whether you’re driving yourself or hiring a car service or hailing an Uber, you can begin at any of almost two dozen wineries in the Niagara wine region. Some wineries are located close to each other, while others are located a little further away. Depending on how you decide to get around, don’t plan on trying to do more than four or five wineries in one day. Each winery typically gives you three to five tastings, which range in price from $2-$5 per tasting, depending on the type of wine you want to try.
Watch the Time
Be sure not to head out too early, or plan to stay out too late. Many of the wineries open between 10 a.m. and noon and close by 6 p.m., 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.
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: Remember! It’s always best to bring a designated driver no matter how much you plan to drink.
Book a Guided Tour
Many tour companies offer guided tours of the Niagara wineries — perfect for special occasions, or small groups of friends or family. Relax in a chauffeured limo as you travel from vineyard to vineyard, enjoy tastings, snacks and guided vineyard tours. Please note: each winery has different policies regarding limos; please confirm prior to visiting.
Save Time for Snacks
Several of the wineries — such as Vizcarra Vineyards at Becker Farm, Freedom Run Winery and Lake Ontario Winery — offer food menus during peak season, and many others have snacks such as pretzels, crackers and cheese for sale. There are also several restaurants along the wine trail, so grab yourself a bite to eat and refuel between wineries, or plan a lunch detour to one of the charming towns along the trail, such as Lockport, Wilson or Lewiston.
Plan to Bring Some Bottles Home!
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.
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 are family-friendly and serve grape juice for kids, too, if you have young ones in tow!
Try the Beer and Cider, Too!
If you’re a beer or cider lover, you’ve come to the right place! Niagara County is home to numerous breweries and several offer a wide variety of menu items from Bavarian pretzels to creative sandwiches. And for a behind-the-scenes experience, schedule a brewery tour at New York Beer Project and journey through the facility, explore the history of beer and brewing in Lockport and enjoy beer samples. Tours are offered Saturdays and Sundays only.
Tip: Extend your stay! There are plenty of accommodations throughout Niagara County including hotels, motels, quaint bed-and-breakfasts and vacation rentals, too. You can even book a room at a winery — Becker Farms & Vizcarra Vineyards offers 10 eco-cabins nestled between the vineyards and the orchard, with fun add-ons like private vineyard tours, barrel tastings, and campfires with s’mores.