There are several good reasons why bears hibernate in the winter. Blinding snow, frigid temperatures (can you say wind chill!) and really bad TV are enough to send anyone into hiding. Humans have their own form of hibernating, except we call it cocooning. The end game is the same – sometimes we prefer to stay indoors.
Then again, what if there was something that woke up your senses and made all that cold weather more agreeable? Maybe it’s the hot steam from a bowl of homemade soup or the smell of freshly made bread or a stroll through beautiful landscape with the sun on your face. Picture bakeries overflowing with butter tarts and pies, vineyards dappled in snow, and wine cellars that smell of aged wooden barrels; all less than an hour’s drive from Oakville.
That’s where Twenty Valley comes in, that gorgeous area around Niagara’s lush Twenty Valley takes in Lincoln’s communities of Beamsville, Vineland and Jordan, all of which are overfl owing with vineyards, restaurants and bakeries. A good place to start a visit to Twenty Valley is at the Grand Oak Culinary Market on Victoria Avenue in Vineland where you’ll find all three in one stop. Step inside and you’ll be greeted by the smell of fresh baked scones, pastries, sweet loaves and pies that are made from scratch every morning. They also stock a wide selection of local produce, deli and cheese. You can sample cheese from the cheese counter or take home a “meal to go” or, if you’re feeling adventurous, sign up for a cooking class. And if you’re looking for that special gift, they have an assortment of gift baskets for as little as $40.
The 13th Street Winery in St. Catharines, which is run by Doug and Karen Whitty, prides itself on its exceptional wines with a focus on Gamay and traditional method sparkling wine. Across the street, you’ll find the 13th Bakery and Marketplace which sells local farm fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers, freshly baked goods and jams, jellies and preserves all made with Niagara produce. You can even enjoy a butter tart while strolling around the winery grounds. The Marketplace also features a large selection of artisanal Ontario cheeses, gourmet food items and unique gifts.
If you’re looking for a unique souvenir, many areas around Twenty Valley feature shops that sell items by artisans such as jewelry and scarves. But what Twenty Valley is best known for is its world-class wines and wine tours.
Few offer more spectacular views than the Cellars of Megalomaniac, which sit on a 96-acre site that’s part of the Vineland Upper Bench. Those who live there say it’s the highest vantage point on the Niagara Escarpment and you can enjoy views of the Toronto and Niagara Falls skylines – a photographer’s delight.
The underground cellar offers visitors an unforgettable experience in the midst of the production and barrel aging facility. In Beamsville, The Angels Gate Winery lives up to its heavenly name with 180 acres of land that was converted into a vineyard in 1995. The winery opened in 2002 and today they produce 35,000 cases each year. If you decide to visit, make sure you go to the Twenty Valley website first. There is a wealth of information available about the area, and you can download a great map to plan your trip. The local team are also enthusiastic ambassadors and will be more than happy to answer any questions you have.
Twenty Valley Tourism – 20valley.ca
Grand Oak Culinary Market – goculinary.ca
Angels Gate Winery – angelsgatewinery.com
By Denise Davy