A Celebration of Ontario Wines: Twelve That Are Sure to Please

Written by Gary Killops

Selecting wines for this issue was easy. Limiting the number of wines to twelve was difficult. I could easily have made a list of fifty Ontario wines that I have enjoyed over the past year. I am very thankful to live in a wine region that is producing some exciting and excellent world class wines. There are a lot of wines and wineries to discover in Ontario. It’s time to celebrate our wines!

While you don’t need a celebration to enjoy sparkling wine, it’s always nice to have a few bottles of bubbly on hand to pop for these special occasions. Here are three budget friendly Ontario sparkling wines to get the party started.

Colio Estate Winery in Harrow produces a couple of sparkling wines that are perfect for any celebration or really any occasion. Both are listed as off dry, however they both offer a kiss of sweetness, just enough to balance the acidity. 

Lily Sparkling Wine (LCBO #418657, $17.95) — Riesling is the only grape used in the sparkling wine. The naturally crisp acidity of this grape is perfect for sparkling wine. Loaded with lemon citrus and green apple notes this cheerful bubbly is a crowd pleaser. 

Lily Sparkling Rosé (LCBO #536565, $17.95) — A blend of 90% riesling and 10% cabernet franc and light pink in colour. Hints of freshly picked strawberries lead the way. The vibrant acidity leads the way to a lingering finish. An excellent value for a quality wine like this.

Pelee Island Secco (LCBO #225946, $14.95) — A blend of 85% pinot blanc, and 15% auxerrois. Expect to taste a little more sweetness in this sparkling wine. A cornucopia of green apple, yellow pear and peach flavours. Light, fruity and cheerful.


After clinking glasses of bubbly it’s time to move onto some seriously good Ontario red wines.

Coffin Ridge Back From the Dead Red (Vintages #260463, $19.95) — Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery is located in Grey County near Georgian Bay. As a result of the winery’s name it does get a lot of attention at this time of year. Often its wines appear on lists of Halloween wine recommendations. 

A blend based on maréchal foch, baco noir, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, this full bodied dry red wine is led by notes of black fruit, fresh garden herbs with an earthy undertone. 

Hidden Bench Estate Organic Pinot Noir (Vintages #274753, $31.95) — Niagara’s Hidden Bench winery produces some of the best pinot noir in Ontario. Consistently top quality fermented juice. Bing cherry, fresh garden herbs lead the way. A really elegant and refined wine that will please any pinot lover. 

Hidden Bench Estate Winery was recently named the ”Best Winery in Ontario” at the National Wine Awards of Canada.

Trius Red (Vintages #303800, $24.95) — Niagara’s Trius Winery has been producing this red blend for over 25 years. A blend of cabernet franc, merlot and cabernet sauvignon. Black current, black cherry, tobacco and recently cut cedar notes fill the glass. This is a superior Ontario red wine that always delivers. 

CREW Cabernet Franc 2016 (Vintages #315945, $22.95) — Some exciting times at CREW (Colchester Ridge Estate Winery) are happening. By the time this article goes to press the new tasting room and event facility should be open to the public. With kitchens on both the main floor and upstairs, and patios overlooking the vineyard, this will be a destination spot to sip on a glass of wine and share a charcuterie board.

Bernie Gorski, owner and wine maker at CREW, has always delivered with his wines. Ontario cabernet franc are some of the best in the world. This one proves it. 

Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Baco Noir (Vintages #461699, $24.95) — No other winery in Ontario produces a baco noir like Henry of Pelham. They have set the bar so high many other wineries use this one to bench mark their own baco. If baco noir has never been your red wine of choice, once you have tasted this one you will likely be converted.

Black berry, blueberry, and black cherry. Very silky and smooth on the finish.

Mastronardi Syrah 2016 (Vintages #581223, $24.95) — Located in Ontario’s Lake Erie North Shore wine region, Mastronardi Estate Winery has been in operation since 2006. The vineyard is home to some of the region’s oldest vines at well over 25 years.

Ontario’s cold winters are not good for syrah vines. But if they survive the cold season with little bud damage, the long hot summers are perfect for exceptional syrah wines. 

Mastronardi’s syrah conveys the summer heat. Black pepper and spicy notes, dark fruit with a silky finish. 

Vineland Estates Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 (Vintages #582056, $49.95) — 2015 was a warm vintage, perfect for cabernet sauvignon to reach full maturity and ripeness on the vine. Vineland used an optical sorter to select only the best grapes for this wine. This is a premium full-bodied Ontario red wine that is appropriate for special occasions. It is tasting good right now so don’t cellar it for too long. Open and enjoy!

Weather Rock Cabernet Franc (LCBO #558809, $14.10) — This has become my go-to red wine. An affordable price and delivers quality. Produced by Oxley Estate winery in Lake Erie North Shore.

Dark Horse Unapologetically Sinful Red (LCBO #493668, $14.95) — Dark Horse Estate Winery is located in Grand Bend and is one of several wineries in Huron County’s emerging wine region. This wine is an interesting blend of baco noir, cabernet sauvignon, and cabernet franc. Layers of black and red fruits with herbaceous undertone.    


About the author

Gary Killops

Gary Killops is a CAPS Certified Sommelier who loves to talk, taste and write about wine. He shares his wine tasting notes on EssexWineReview.com