Happy belated Canada Day to all my Canadian chums!
And happy Fourth of July to all you American minxes!
It was a big deal here this year since it was Canada’s 150th birthday — though, there is some controversy surrounding that…which I don’t want to get into. I will say this, Canada isn’t perfect. We’ve done some crap in our past and there is still a lot of work to do, but we are a great country and I’m so thankful and proud to be Canadian. I’m happy that I live in a country where we celebrate diversity, where I am free to love who I love, be who I am, make decisions about my own body without anyone’s interference, never have to worry about paying for healthcare, and my future is what I want to make of it. We are very lucky to live here, and I think there is a lot to celebrate.
I have had really great Canada Day weekends over the last few years, and this year was right up there. Yesterday was a holiday here so we spent Saturday to Monday in Niagara Falls. My favourite long weekends are the ones spent camping or at a cottage, submerged in a lake with cold beer and campfires, so this year was a bit of a change from that but it was a ton of fun!
Evan and I met Sherrie and Will on Saturday morning at our hotel by the falls (the Canadian side), and then took a shuttle to wine country, Niagara-on-the-Lake, for a full afternoon cycling tour with Grape Escapes. It was awesome, they picked us up down the street from our hotel on a school bus, dropped us off for the day in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and then brought us back to our hotel at the end. None of us had to worry about driving (except the bikes), so it was an ideal situation.
I was all festive in my Canada gear.
I love Evan’s silver patch of beard that’s coming in. He’s going to be a silver fox!
We hit some Canada Day traffic and had to make a stop to pick some people up, but we made it to wine country pretty quickly. We geared up and chose our bikes before heading on our way.
Helmets were optional but I ended up wearing one in the end — our tour guides mentioned we would be riding on some country roads and I just didn’t trust crazy Canada Day drivers. I also hadn’t ridden a bike in a while and didn’t trust my balance after a few glasses of the vino. Luckily, our group was accident-free.
It is such an absolutely gorgeous area to be riding in!
I have never done a wine tour in the Niagara region but now I can’t wait to go back. There are so many wineries and we were only able to go to four, so there is a lot left to explore! We rode for about 25 minutes along the Niagara River until we got to our first winery, Reif Estate.
We had a full tour of this winery and spent about an hour walking around with a guide and drinking all the wine. They had some good ones. They had a riesling I really liked, which was surprising because I am not usually a big riesling fan.
They also talked a lot about the process of making icewine, which I believe is mainly a Canadian thing since it’s made with frozen grapes. They harvest the grapes at the coldest time of year, at the coldest time of the night, when they are frozen solid on the vine. It allows for a more concentrated juice to be pressed from the grapes resulting in a smaller, more concentrated, very sweet wine. I don’t love sweet wines and I don’t usually like icewine, but I tried it at each winery we went to and enjoyed it all. Some people just pour it over ice cream and I feel like I could get down with that.
After Reif Estate we got back on our bikes and rode to the next winery, Riverview Cellars, a smaller family-owned winery about 10 minutes down the road.
We had cheese samplings here! So that was a highlight.
I think cheese and crackers are my favourite snack of all time.
I really liked the wine here and Evan and I got a bottle of their pinot grigio. We sampled various wines for about 20 minutes and then we were back on our bikes and onto the next.
I loved riding through the vineyards. It was so beautiful and peaceful.
Next up we went to Inniskillin Winery, one of the bigger and more well-known wineries in the area. I enjoyed the wines I tried there but most are available at the LCBO (Ontario’s liquor store) so we didn’t buy any. After the tasting we headed to check out the vineyards.
Lastly, we hit up Pondview Estate Winery, which was maybe my favourite because I really enjoyed the girl who did our samples and they had wine slushies! I scored one of those after our tasting. I got the lime one and it was delicious.
It had called for rain all day (what else is new, it’s been raining almost constantly the past few weeks) but until that point it had just been really hot and humid with mostly clear skies. While we were at Pondview a bit scary cloud rolled in and it was clear the rain was coming. Poncho time! The ponchos were a good call because it absolutely POURED on the way back, and we rode through it for about 20 minutes, which was just nuts. Oh well, it just added to our adventure. I think we were pretty lucky that the rain held off all day and only got us at the very end. We were totally soaked though.
I really can’t say enough good things about Grape Escapes Wine Tours. I LOVED the biking, and our two guides were great. I would highly recommend booking a tour with them. I was so happy we did that.
We got back to the falls around 6pm (we hit more Canada Day traffic), and after we got back to our hotel, cleaned ourselves up and relaxed for a minute the rain had stopped and we could patio it up for dinner! We went to the same restaurant Evan and I took Paula and Fabian to, Coco’s. The food isn’t THE BEST or anything but I love the atmosphere on that patio and the live music is fantastic. The guy was playing a lot of 60s/70s rock and Sherrie and I were in our element. That is our jam.
After dinner we walked down to the falls for FIREWORKS!!!
I love fireworks and had been looking forward to them all day but to be honest they were kind of disappointing. I was expecting them to be way over the top for Canada’s birthday, especially since it was the 150th, but I think they were just their regular weekend fireworks, with some more red and white added in. If I saw them somewhere else I probably would have been impressed, but in Niagara Falls for Canada Day? Eh, just okay.
We had big plans the next day too, with a bunch of our friends meeting up with us for a music festival, so more about that later. Hope you had a great weekend!