I awoke in the morning hearing rain and seeing gray skies outside my small cabin window.
Just as the weather service predicted.
I fell back asleep a few more hours and awoke around 9 a.m.
By the time I showered and dressed, the rain had stopped and slivers of blue could be seen in the distance.
I loaded up the rain gear and headed for Niagara-on-the-lake.
Library first... all else second.
No rain along my river drive.
As I reached the library (I was about 20-minutes away), blue skies became more prevalent.
Winner: blue skies and sunshine.
I stopped at the library's cafe to have a coffee and a pastry -- homemade crumble apple pie.
Find me a library with a cafe AND a baker in the States, please.
Unfortunately, the latte was weak; the pie was perfect.
I don't what it is about the coffee and/or espresso in Canada; it's just not as strong as in the US. I barely caught a caffeine buzz from it.
Following my library blogging, I researched the local boutique wineries: the smaller the better.
(You have to understand that Niagara-on-the-lake has about 20-wineries all located within a very small geographic space.)
I had strict parameters.
No more than three wineries.
I went back to the cafe for lunch.
It was still late morning, and I did not wish to drink on a empty stomach.
Egg salad sandwich on dark rye and a salad.
Water and more water.
Off, we go.
Stop #1: Rancourt
Easy to find.
Only winery in the area to still hand-pick its grapes.
Find the young woman who lived in Kentucky for a few years. She was something else: a Fast Canadian talker that one.
I tried three wines: the noble blanc, the syrah, and the rose.
Rose -- the winner -- was the most complex of all three.
That syrah fell flat on its face: one note and one note only.
I took my glass of "blush" (ha!) outside on their make shift patio overlooking the vines.
When I brought back the glass half-full, the host gave me a stern face.
I reminded her that I was on a motorcycle.
Stop #2: Between the Lines
You could drive right past this one without realizing that you missed it.
Gracious and eager to please hosts.
I tried four wines: Suarez Pinot Gris, Suarez Petite Verdot, Meritage Reserve, and their canned sparkling.
Winners: Pinot Gris, Meritage Reserve, and the sparkling.
I did not purchase a glass: a slight buzz took hold.
If I would have purchased a bottle, it would have been the Meritage Reserve.
Hannah, one of the hosts, suggested I try Big Head winery next.
It's one of the newest and she said the winemaker worked with large producers before going out on his own.
His winery was NOT on the map: YES!
She gave me directions.
I thanked her and while walking around the premises, I spoke to some of the "haul the wine drunks" drivers.
Stop #3: Big Head
Tucked back on Hunter Road (in the general vicinity of the first winery I visited), I made a right into the vineyard.
Hannah was right about this one.
Maybe she saw "wine snob" written on my face.
At Big Head it's all about wild fermentation.
No yeast is added; it's all natural, here.
Pretty risky endeavor, too.
I tried four wines; I let my host select them.
Here's the list: Stainless Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Merlot (not my choice remember), and Bigger Red Select.
Two were unbelievable: the stainless steel chard and the red select (a blend).
I purchased the latter: I wanted both.
Too much travel weight, so I went with the red.
Both were complex and memorable. I'm still thinking about that chardonnay I left behind.
I stuffed the red in my travel bag, and said goodbye to Tim (my host).
Then, I loafed around the property.
Later, I walked to my motorcycle with my beautiful bottle of red and fished out the rest of my egg salad sandwich.
To eat it of course.
Stop #4: Niagara Falls
For those of you waiting for that big Canadian finale, this one is for you!
Until we meet again, my friend.