Choosing Niagara on the Lake Wine Tours Can Be Tough!
Thirsty? Good – it’s time to talk about Ontario’s famous wine region! While we’ve covered Niagara on the Lake wineries before, lots of travellers want to enjoy the region via a guided tour.
Wine tastings/tours in the province are popular things to do in Ontario and when you have a great guide the whole experience can be really, really enjoyable.
From Niagara vintage wine tours to tours that let you ride bicycles (it’s totally safe), there are lots of options for booking the perfect wine tour for you and your group. You can even find Niagara wine tours that start in Toronto.
In any case, there are loads of tours and companies to choose from. So, to help make your research easy, we have researched a few wine tours but also set out on one classic Niagara on the Lake wine tour to see if it was worth it!
Did it live up to the wine hype? See for yourself!
*Friendly Disclosure: We paid for the wine tour we did ourselves – this is not a sponsored post.
Niagara on the Lake Wine Tour Options
If you know the region and you have an idea of the kind of tour you’re looking for, feel free to jump ahead and have a look below.
Be sure to make note of the specific details, the reviews, and the booking procedures. All you have to do is pick the one you like and show up!
- Classic Wine and Tasting Tour (We Did This)
- Small-Group Niagara Wine Tour (Popular)
- Private Itinerary Niagara Wine Tour
- NOTL Bicycle and Wine Tour
Below, you’ll find more details about the above tours so read on to make the right decision for you.
Classic Wineries Tour + Tastings (Our Tour)
A “classic” Niagara on the Lake wine tour was what we did. Basically, we jumped on a shuttle bus and were driven around to four different wineries. We also had time for lunch in the tiny town of Niagara on the Lake.
⇒ Check here for the exact NOTL Wine Tour we did
Overall, we really liked our tour – it was well-organized and enjoyable, and the wine was lovely. You can read about our tour in more detail at the bottom half of this post.
There are lots of photos so you can get a sense of what we got up to.
Niagara on the Lake Wine Tasting
If you’re a fan of cheese, this might be the tour for you. Set up as both a morning or an afternoon tour, this wine tasting takes a small group (capped at 15 people) to 4 wineries in the area to learn about and taste Ontario wines.
You receive multiple tastings at each of the wineries, and you’ll be walked through the wine-making process.
⇒ Check here for this Wine Tour
This tour is great because they showcase both a larger winery and smaller boutique wineries that are considered “hidden gems” in the growing wine region.
It should be noted that hotel pick-up from the town of Niagara on the Lake OR Niagara Falls is ONLY included in the price of the afternoon tour.
If you book the morning, you’ll just begin the tour when you meet the shuttle at the central meeting location that is confirmed with your guide!
The reviews overwhelmingly rave about the guides being friendly, knowledgeable, punctual, and detail-oriented. You’ll learn a lot about the history of the area, the food pairings, the famous Ontario Ice Wines (yum!), and the cheeses that go with your tastings.
They’ll go so far as to contact you ahead of time to confirm the pick-up spots and everything.
If you want a fool-proof tour around the region that checks off all the details and creates an overall great experience, have a look for yourself below!
Private “Build Your Own Itinerary” Niagara on the Lake Wine Tour
Got a day in Niagara with a small group and want to go the extra mile to make a truly unforgettable and personalized day in the region? Then this tour is for you.
From the upscale vehicle to the guide and driver catering to your needs – creating your own itinerary with a company is a way to go!
⇒ Check here to create your Private Wine Tour
You’ll be picked up from your hotel in Niagara on the Lake or Niagara Falls and be driven around to 5-7 wineries/venues.
Because the itinerary is yours to create with the help of your guide, you can even mix in one of the breweries, cideries, or whiskey distilleries in the area.
While the pickup in a private upscale vehicle is included, some of the tastings at the wineries are extra so be sure to discuss that with your guide.
The reviews of the experience are basically a bunch of people who are blown away at the value for money and the perfect day. The driver/guide even takes photos for you and emails them to you after the tour is over!
Wine Tasting With Biking Tour
If you want to get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air of the Niagara countryside, then a bicycle wine tour is for you! On this tour, you’ll bike to 4 or 5 wineries depending on if you go on the half-day or full-day tour.
The full-day tour begins in the morning but a picnic lunch is included in your price. You’ll head to a large winery to begin the day and stop off at a few smaller ones along the way.
⇒ Check here for a Wine Tour with Bicycles
The pace is leisurely and the groups are small so you can enjoy the ride between places.
The half-day tour leaves just after lunch and follows a similar circuit. The only difference is that instead of a lunch, you’re offered a delicious cheese platter as your food item on the tour.
Overall, your fees include hotel pick-up from the Niagara region, entrances, tastings at the wineries, the rental of the bike and helmet, and more. The reviews mention how kind, knowledgeable, and responsible the guides are.
Considering you’re biking around after having a few samples, safety is of the utmost importance and this tour delivers. The tour runs whether rain or shine!
Our Niagara On The Lake Wine Tour Experience
Since there are many wine tours to choose from, we went on one to be able to tell you exactly what it was like. We also went on a tour so that we could explore the region without worrying about who was driving!
The wine tour itself was run by Niagara Air Bus – a company that runs shuttles from Toronto to Niagara Falls and the surrounding airports.
Overall, we really liked our tour. Communication was quick and efficient and we knew which wineries to expect and everything. If you want to learn more about the tour and/or booking process, you can check out our complete wine tour here.
What You’ll Need For This Wine Tour
If you end up on this wine tour, here’s a short list of the things you should have with you to have a great experience. Many of these are weather dependent but in general:
- Photo ID (we didn’t need it but good to have in case anyone asked)
- Cash for a tip for the driver
- A hat
- A windbreaker jacket (in the spring or fall)
- A water bottle
Niagara on the Lake Wine Tour Itinerary
To give you a better idea of exactly what we experienced on our wine tour in Niagara on the Lake, here are the details from pick-up to the wineries we visited!
The tour is advertised as a “half-day” with either a morning or afternoon slot but honestly, our tour was closer to 6 hours long!
That said, it didn’t feel too long and it certainly wasn’t rushed. We really got to enjoy the drives, the tours, and the wines!
In the morning, we had a confirmed time window of about 20 minutes that the driver would pick us up at our Inn in Niagara Falls. We stayed at A Moment in Time Bed and Breakfast in case you were curious. (It was lovely!)
As expected, the driver was there right on time. He was friendly and organized as he drove around Niagara Falls to pick up the other wine tour-goers. Communication with Air Bus was actually really good with multiple emails confirming details before the date.
At the end of the day, the driver dropped everyone off at their accommodations again. It was nice to be dropped off at the B&B because we were exhausted from the long (but awesome) day.
Winery #1 – Ravine Vineyard Estates Winery
After a short drive from downtown Niagara Falls, we got to Ravine Estate Winery for our first tasting! We have friends and family who love Ravine so we were eager to get inside and get tasting.
Ravine is a smaller family-run winery and the experience did NOT disappoint. While we had no tour of the winery itself, the wine steward went through their whole wine list and we got to choose any three wines to sample.
We really liked this style because it was different from the other wineries we would visit later in the day.
Usually, wineries give you three pre-determined wines to sample. It’s a fine way to do it, but Ravine gave you choice which we enjoyed!
We then grabbed a bottle of what we liked, wandered around inside their shop, and hopped back in the shuttle once we were done with our time slot.
Overall, Ravine was a great first stop and the group actually got closer… blame the wine!
Winery #2 – Pillitteri Estates Winery
After a short drive, we ended up at Pillitteri Estate Winery. The guide pulled up, we got out and entered the main building. Pillitteri has a long history that we won’t get into here but it is fascinating.
The reason we know about the history of Pillitteri is that our stop at Pillitteri included a tasting AND a tour with a live guide (provided by Pillitteri). Our driver did a great job of making sure we were in the right place.
When you start the tour, you get hit with the fact that Pillitteri has won many, many awards over the years for their wines – especially ice wines. Their winery functions more like a complex than a small family-run winery like Ravine but it’s still very well done.
Overall, the tour guide was great – we got to see the grounds and the wine cellars where they store the red wine (and the fancy tasting table rarely used).
We then went for a tasting where we had a red, white, and ice wine – all of which were pretty good. We didn’t buy a bottle here but others did!
Lunch in Niagara-on-the-Lake
After Pillitteri, we were driven to Niagara on the Lake (the actual historic town) and had an hour for lunch.
Our driver dropped us off in the coach parking (since buses aren’t allowed to stop downtown). You can take a smaller bus to the town centre but we walked because it’s just down the road.
Read More: Discover Ontario’s Best Inns
Since this was a lunch stop and we knew we would come back to explore the town the next day on our own, we didn’t play tourist this time. We just went to find a great lunch.
There were many places to check out – patios with pub food and smaller shops here and there. We stumbled upon Sandwich Bar – and WOW we loved it. (Unfortunately, this place has now closed…)
Inside the small shop, they do specialty sandwiches. They also serve beer and wine and there’s seating for a few people but you can also take your food to go.
The prices were a little high but that’s the nature of the whole town for you. In any case, we loved our choices of pulled pork and Banh Mi.
The main street of Niagara on the Lake is loaded with shops, stores, ice cream places, and historic sites.
We have a whole post on what to do in Niagara on the Lake (coming soon) if you are spending more time there while exploring the region!
Winery #3 – Inniskillin
Known to be “Canada’s original estate winery”, Inniskillin is certainly one of the heavy hitters in the area. They are credited with putting Canadian Ice Wine on the international map – and their dedication to ice wine shows when you visit.
As per usual, our driver made sure we got on the tour and then actually came on the tour with us (run by Inniskillin).
The guide was super passionate about wine and his work at Inniskillin – and the tour was really, really good. They are a BIG production and they have the credentials to back it up!
One of the coolest parts was the wine cellar where they have events and store their older and rarer vintages. The whole experience at Inniskillin was wonderful.
Of course, we got to the end of the tour and back in the tasting room to sample a red, a white, their famous ice wine, and a sparkling ice wine! The ice wine was good – it was very thick and syrupy.
If you have never had ice wine, you should know that it’s very, very sweet (and not for everyone – Lisa enjoyed it a lot more than Eric!).
Overall, the stop at Inniskillin was great – and they have a large outdoor seating area for photos and relaxing.
Winery #4 – Reif Estates Winery
Last, but certainly not least, we took a very short bus ride from Inniskillin to Reif. They are basically down the road from one another so it was an easy drive.
We got off, snapped a few photos, and our driver made sure we were in the right place one last time.
Reif was founded by a German so hearing the backstory from the wine steward was really cool. While there was no tour included at Reif, we DID get a private tasting in a smaller, quiet room.
This really added to the experience since everyone else was tasting in the main shop where we had just come from.
Tasting at the main bar would have been fine but the private room made it extra special. We sampled a white, red, and their ice wine, and – honestly – we almost liked their ice wine more than the more famous one from Inniskillin!
Both were good – and it comes down to preference. We finished up tasting, browsed the shop, and headed for the shuttle to take us home!
And there you have it – some amazing wine tours in Niagara on the Lake! What do you think? Have you been on any of these adventures? We really liked the wine tour we went on.
That said, let us know how your tour goes – we’re always interested in promoting the best travel tips.
As always, Keep exploring, eh?
If you’re looking to spend some more time in Niagara on the Lake and/or Niagara Falls, check out these other posts to help you plan your trip!
- Check Out These Niagara on the Lake Wineries
- Our Guide on Things to Do in Niagara on the Lake
- Where to Stay in Niagara on the Lake: Hotels + Inns
- Great Things to Do in Niagara Falls
- A Guide to Niagara Falls Accommodations
- NOTL Is A Great Day Trip from Toronto