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Drink Local! Ontario’s Best Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries

The Liquor Board of Ontario (LCBO) may have a monopoly on selling imported alcohol in Ontario, and sure, there is a great selection of spirits for all occasions offered at their stores. But lets not forget the impressive local selection of vineyards, breweries and distilleries. Ontario’s fertile lands and innovative, creative locals consistently produce wonderful alcoholic beverages. Buying the Ontario-made alcohol market not only supports the local economy, but it also gives you the opportunity to enjoy the some of the best spirits Canada has to offer. Here’s a starting point for finding Ontario’s best wineries, breweries and distilleries!

Ontario’s Best Wineries:

We’ve hand selected these vineyards based on the 2014 Ontario Wine Awards.

  • With a rich history dating back to 1927, Peller Estates Winery, in Niagara-On-The-Lakes offers a celebrated selection of red and white wine. At the winery, you can tour the vineyards and sample wines at tastings. There are regular special events and you can pair wines with a good meal at the Peller Estates Winery Restaurant. Most of the wines range from about $18 to $35, and you can purchase them online.
  • Château des Charmes, in St. Davis, is particularly lauded for its icewines and white wines, though their reds are delicious too. Owned by a fifth generation French wine grower on the values of sustainable production, you can come here for public tours and tastiness seven days a week. Wines are also available for purchase online, and they range from as low as $5 to about $65.
  • A tour at Vineland Estates Winery is 60 minutes long and includes a sampling of three wines. The staff have exceptional knowledge about the various wines, which include (among others) delicious sparkling whites, and a classic series of wines for from $12 to $18, with a selection ranging from pinot gris, pinot blanc, to chardonnay, dry or semi-dry  riesling, and cabernet fran.
  • Inniskillin, in Niagara-On-The-Lake is especially notable for its icewine, which accounts for about 10 per cent of its production. They also produce a reserve series, a discovery series, using unusual varieties of grapes, and a single vineyard series and more. It’s one of Ontario’s best wineries, and you can buy it at LCBO.

Ontario’s Best Breweries:

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  • Cool Beer Brewing Company consistently wins awards and recognition for its extremely drinkable selection. Its Cool Beer Lager is it’s popular flagship brew, and Millennium Buzz, the only hemp-based lager in Canada is 100 per cent natural. The Brewery is in Brampton, but you can place an order online and have a shipment brought right to your door!
  • Hop City Brewery  has fun and delicious beers. Try the Barking Squirrel, a medium-bodied lager, Mr. Huff, which is a blend of German and Czech styles, or the new HopBot IPA, made with five west coast American hops, and has a citrusy flavor. The Hop City brewers clearly love what they do, as evidenced by the great taste of their product.
  • Flying Monkey Craft Brewery in Barrie offers free tours and samples daily. Visit and you’ll find friendly and knowledgeable staff, and drink your fill of samples. Their lager, witbier, dark IPA and stout are award winning, and their chocolate stout is a local favorite.
  • Liberty Village Brewing Company in Toronto is relatively new to the local beer scene, but already winning recognition for their for their stouts and IPAs. You can find and enjoy their selections  at many popular bars and restaurants in the city, including Porter House, Wise Boys, Bar Vespa and Chill Ice House.

Ontario’s Best Distilleries:

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Canadian whisky has an international reputation, and some of it comes from right here in Ontario. You’ll also find local vodkas, gin, rum and more.

  • Located in Ottawa, North of 7 Distillery  handcrafts award-winning whisky, rum, gin and vodka. The distillery is owned and run by two local Ontarians, whose rock climbing trips regularly brought them down to Kentucky, where they developed an appreciation for « brown spirits. » They brought back their love of good southern drinks to Ontario, lucky for us! You can buy their products online or at their Ottawa store.
  • Forty Creek Whiskey  in Grimbsy, makes rich, bold whiskeys with  honey, vanilla and apricot tastes, as well as  oak, black walnut and spice flavors. There are seven varieties to choose from, including the popular Barrel Select and Copper Pot, as well as yearly limited releases. You can visit the distillery to sample them, or take a tour, or buy bottles online or at LCBO.
  • At Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers  in Beamsville, you can find rye whiskey, vodka, gin, bitters, absinthe and more. When sipping their finely crafted spirits, its clear that the owners go to great efforts to perfect their craft. Visiting this local distillery would make a great date, or day out with friends, as you’ll be treated to a tour and sample, then you can pick up a bottle to bring home. You can also find their selections at quite a few bars and restaurants across the province.

Here we’ve given you just a few of Ontario’s best wineries, breweries and distilleries.

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Read more great posts about culture in Ontario and Canada:

(Photos: Settle-in, Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr, Dominick via Flickr)

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À propos de Georgia

For years, I knew that I wanted to move to Canada to get my postsecondary education. From the exciting and diverse museums, nightlife and dining found in the big cities, to the wealth of natural beauty, I was captivated by the country. I was a little nervous to travel all the way from Australia, but I knew the experience would teach me a lot. It’s true that relocation is never easy. The packing, shipping and visa formalities can all be complicated. But with careful planning and a little help from the veteran relocators (like me!) you’ll be settling in and enjoying the vibrancy of Canadian living in no time. // Depuis plusieurs années, je savais que le Canada était le pays parfait où je pouvais obtenir mon diplôme d’études secondaires. J’étais captivée par les villes du Canada que ce soit par les musées, les soirées, les repas dans les grandes villes ou encore la proximité de la beauté des paysages. J’étais anxieuse à l’idée de faire le voyage à partir de l’Australie mais je savais que cette expérience allait m’apprendre énormément de choses. C’est vrai que la relocalisation n’est jamais facile. L’emballage des affaires, l’expédition et les formalités de visa peuvent être stressants et compliqués mais avec une bonne organisation et un peu d’aide des anciens relocalisés ( comme moi ), vous serez rapidement installé et pourrez profiter de la trépidante vie canadienne en peu de temps.