Canadian winters are long, dark and snowy and by the month of March, Canadians are ready to embrace spring. But unfortunately in the province of Ontario, winter continues through March and sometimes even into April. For snowshoers, skiers, snowboarders and every other person who loves the winter, this isn’t generally a bad thing but many of us. We are ready to lace up the hiking boots and hit the trails without the winter jackets, toques and mitts. Being Canadian, the only thing that can make the end of winter better is a little bit of booze to go along with those winter sports.
Lucky for all of us up North, and those who are brave enough to head up here during the wintery weather; wineries all over Ontario are hopping on board with winter and embracing snowshoers from all over the world. We have heard about cycling, horseback riding, walking and even marathon running while wine tasting but snowshoeing and wine tasting; why hadn’t anyone thought of this before?
The most popular winery to offer snowshoe wine tours is Thirty Bench; located in Beamsville Ontario, a superior winegrowing region on the Niagara Peninsula. To start off a snowshoe excursion with Thirty Bench; visitors are handed a glass of wine which they can enjoy while admiring the vintages and indoor displays. It is a great chance to warm up your soul and taste one of many exceptional wines. After polishing off the first glass it is time to suit up and strap on the snowshoes. For beginner snowshoers, the staff members on hand are ready to help you strap them on and are knowledgeable in explaining the sport. From there, it’s out to the Riesling vineyards for samples that are tried throughout the snow covered vines. The expert guides will not only give tips for the best trekking methods but will guide you through the wine picking, making and tasting process. The landscape and scenery out on the tour are truly beautiful; rolling snow covered hills, endless miles of vineyards and casks made into tables for the tastings set the stage for a romantic tour; or perhaps just a playful trek in the snow. The tour winds up in front of an outside roaring fire with yet another glass of wine and a bowl of fresh locally made soup. This amazing experience comes at the cost of just $30 and includes the use of snowshoes, the guided trek, tastings, a bowl of local soup and a souvenir to take home. We can’t think of a better way to spend a snowy afternoon in the wonderful province of Ontario. Visit them at http://www.thirtybench.com/
Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery is another winery to hop on board with snowshoeing and offer visitors the chance to tour the vineyards via snowshoe. Coffin Ridge takes the visitors on a snowshoe trek through the grounds talking about the history of the winery and the challenges they face in a cool climate. Learning about the growing process and how this winery differs from others is an important educational component of this tour. After snowshoeing, participants head inside to the fireplace to continue their adventure with tastings and a hearty bowl of soup. This winery in the Grey Bruce area is one of a kind and understands the bond between trekking through the vineyards and enjoying an incredible glass of vino. Visit them at http://www.coffinridge.ca/
Sugarbush Vineyards in Prince Edward County is new to the snowshoe world this year and has started off with a bang; offering a guided 2.5km tour through the vineyards. Open to people off all ages; snowshoes are available to rent on-site and included in the rental are snowshoes, poles, and either wine tasting or hot chocolate. Marketed as “fresh air, exercise and wine tasting” we expect this trend will continue in the following years. While the snow sticks around for this year, we encourage you to get out there and visit an excellent unique winery while taking advantage of the fluffy white stuff for one last snowshoe.
As the winters in Canada continue to be snowy and harsh and everlasting; wineries have found a new way to entice visitors to come out and experience the joys of a vineyard in the wintertime. Whether they are offering guided snowshoe treks themselves or pairing up with snowshoe guide companies that tour multiple wineries; Canadians are finding new ways to enjoy wintertime. Canadians invite snowshoers from all over the world to come and experience what we now think of as our new sport; wineshoeing.