Ontarians have been growing Concord grapes for (sweet) wine in the Niagara region since the 1800s, but experiments with European Vitis vinifera species between the 1950s and 1970s led to more serious wine production. Today, the Niagara Peninsula is Canada's largest viticulture area, accounting for nearly 80% of the country's growing volume. More than 60 wineries reside here, either north of St. Catharines spread out across the largely rural Niagara Escarpment, or south of St. Catharines, in close proximity to pretty, Victorian-tinged Niagara-on-the-Lake.
But wine tasting isn't the only game in the Peninsula. Niagara-on-the-Lake draws theatergoers to its annual Shaw Festival and food lovers to its unparalleled restaurants. The Niagara Escarpment is a prime Sunday-drive destination, with winding country roads, the charming town of Jordan, and a couple of diamond-in-the-rough restaurants.