Trying to get away before the winter temperatures (and blues!) set in can be tough. It’s almost the holiday season and you’re already spending your hard earned cash on gifts, turkeys and décor. Instead of reaching for your passport, reach for your car keys! That’s what I did last weekend with a few girlfriends.
Only about an hour and 45 minutes out of the city lies Niagara on the Lake, filled to the brim with vineyards and Vintage hotels. Our first stop was afternoon high tea in the drawing room of the Prince of Wales Hotel. It was so beautifully decorated with chandeliers, sparkling Christmas trees and a roaring fire.
The four of us partook in a Traditional Afternoon Tea selection of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, mini cupcakes and cookies.
A Sloane tea box containing 12 options was brought over to our table with little samples to smell. Peaches and Cream smelled too delicious not to order, it was a blended white tea containing water honey peaches and hints of vanilla. It was the perfect accompaniment to our pastries and watercress sandwiches.
Our tea arrived in charming floral tea pots and we were all given different styles of tea cups, it was sort of fun to compare the different ones we got. The waitresses were in ‘maid’ outfits and some patrons even wore little fascinators in their hair. It’s the perfect setting for making a little girl feel like a princess or a just for pampering for us older ones. The traditional afternoon tea comes at a price tag of $36 per person, but our friend Breanne found a 2 for 1 voucher on the hotel’s website (Its currently showing as ‘sold out’ on the site right now, but keep an eye out as it pops up every now and again). If you’re looking to extend your stay for more than just tea, keep another eye out on Travelzoo.ca, where Breanne and her fiancé had an overnight stay including breakfast for just $189, so affordable!
The hotel itself was already decked out for Christmas, and I lost count at how many beautiful trees they had set up. It was really charming and cozy and I could see myself coming back for a more romantic weekend getaway.
We were able to make a stop at the semi new (as of June 2017) Wayne Gretzky’s Estates Winery and Distillery. ‘The Great One’ had a smaller partner with Thirty Bench Wine Makers in Beamsville but decided to move to Niagara on the Lake for a bigger plot of land and probably more ‘traffic’.
The building is stunning; we walked into a front lobby filled with cozy plush chairs and couches by an open fireplace. The décor was very modern and clean, and if you’re a Gretzky fan you can check out some photos from his personal collection adorning the walls. A short walk up a ramp into a large open space filled with red chairs and glass tables was the setting for either a sit down and guided or more casual bar style wine tasting.
Courtney, who was behind the bar, guided us through some tastings (3 wine or 2 ice wine samples for $8 ) I chose an ice wine since I have more of a sweet tooth and really enjoyed the Vidal which tasted like honey, apricot and pineapple, such a treat. My girlfriends stuck with sampling the regular wines, everything from Wayne’s favorite Pinot Grigio, peach and pear chardonnay to easy drinking Baco Noir. Did we really enjoy the wine though or was this all just some sort of sports celebrity tourist gimmick? Let’s just say we all visited the gift shop afterwards and left with a bottle (or two) to take home. Wayne knows how to walk the walk when it comes to wine!
Something else exciting on this property was an outdoor whisky bar. It was right beside a hockey rink with twinkle lights hanging over a giant ‘99’ sign that was just waiting for it to become cold enough to welcome skaters. I haven’t seen anything quite like this at other distilleries and I’m sure it would be such a picturesque scene come snow and winter. We will have to come back and see for ourselves.
We took a seat under a heating lamp and were served cocktails by a waitress in full hockey jersey and Gretzky themed toque and scarf, how fun. We were told the whisky is made with Canadian grown grains and finished in red wine casks from the Gretzky winery (how resourceful). The whisky was strong but smooth with sweet spices. It went great in my rye and ginger. The presentation of the cocktails was beautiful as well, as mine came in a copper mug and my friends were served with giant ice cubes with cranberries or a cinnamon stick. Shannon also sampled the Canadian Cream, which smelled great, but I didn’t try. Think Baileys or Kahlua, something that would go great in a coffee or hot chocolate. We really did find something for everyone’s different tastes to enjoy!
After visiting the gift shop, grabbing some wine and really cute grape Christmas ornaments, we were able to leave in the early evening and make it back home just after dinner. Perfect day trip!
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Hey! I'm Sarah! A 30 something living in downtown Toronto with a great guy and an OK dog. I love seeing what my city has to offer and try to hit up as many fun events or attractions as I can! I haven't slept since 2004.