UPDATE: This post will be updated regularly to include a list of wineries in the Niagara region that are open for tastings under new Best Practices guidelines.
As COVID-19 restrictions begin to loosen on a Provincial level, wineries in the Niagara, Ontario region are preparing to welcome guests back to their tasting rooms with new protocols and best practices in place.
While wineries have been deemed an essential service during the pandemic, and many have remained open for shopping and/or curbside pick-up, all wineries closed tasting bars to ensure the safety of the community, guests and their front-line team members.
Some wineries have already opened – and have been open for reservation-only tastings since the end of May – while others are slowly following suit. The key is recognizing that there is absolutely no rush, and to re-open on their own terms, understanding that there needs to be a modification to the guest experience. (Find a regularly updated list of wineries now open for tastings at the bottom of this post.)
The Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake is a self-funded marketing organization that for over 25 years has existed to promote visitation to its member wineries during the shoulder season. They’ve worked hard to promote the ‘support local’ initiative on behalf of their members. Recently, they held a conference call for their 24 winery membership to discuss how each might best prepare for this new normal. Discussion took place regarding the development of a Best Practices Guide for re-opening tasting rooms.
As Ontario and other wine destinations like British Columbia, Oregon and California have recently released their protocols, the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake organization has been able to refer to these documents as a benchmark for excellence in safety protocols for developing its own best practices. This document has been shared with all member wineries to assist them in their plans for reopening their tasting rooms when the time is right for them.
“Our member wineries are committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of the community, team members and guests, locals and visitors alike,” says Chair Andrea Kaiser. “While opening dates and specific tactics at each winery will differ, the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake guidelines will help member wineries to develop best practices appropriate for their tasting rooms.”
Some of these best practices include careful monitoring of the number of customers on premises at any one time to ensure physical distancing requirements are maintained and to comply with any capacity restrictions imposed by the province or country. Wineries will also be required to enhance cleaning procedures and protocols with special attention to high-touch surfaces. For a full breakdown of these Best Practices, click this link here.
“While the last two months have been trying for all of our member wineries as they have been faced with reduced revenues and the inability to keep all of their team members employed, the support across the country to buy local has been inspiring to all of us,” says Kaiser. “Most of our members were able to pivot from a focus on in-store wine sales to on-line sales, as well as curbside pick-up, to soften the blow.”
As mentioned, some wineries have already re-opened under a reservation-only policy. It is best to confirm which wineries are open by checking with their own social media or website before making your plans for visiting. But it does appear that the experience of visiting wine country is on its way back to becoming a reality, just in time for summer.
-With files from Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake
Wineries now open for tastings in the Niagara, Ontario region:
Reservations for food are being accepted through Open Table bookings, wine tastings are also being offered now but must be reserved separately from food.
Tastings are available on their new tented Vineyard Lounge space by reservation only. Enjoy a wine flight, a glass of wine and craft cider & artisanal cheese plates daily. Book your reservations by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 905-563-0668!
Seated tastings are available on the back patio with reservation only. $20 per person. Wine by the glass also available.
Open for reservation-only tastings Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Tasting room visits are hosted by appointment only at limited capacity. Walk-ins are accommodated when space allows.
Now open for tastings by appointment or by chance.
Wine by the Glass is being served daily on the patio 11am – 4pm. Retail is open 10am – 5pm and Tastings are by appointment only beginning Friday June 26th.
Now open for private seated tasting flights of four wines or wine by the glass on the terrace. Reservations can be made online for up to five people. Please wear a mask until your tasting begins. Bring your own stemware if you choose.
Open between 11am – 5pm daily for tastings and wine by the glass on the back patio. Make a reservation at email@example.com
Open for tastings and wine by the glass. No reservation required. Guest capacity is limited.
Open for tastings Friday and Saturday only. Due to their limited capacity, reservations are required and can be booked on their event page. All tastings will be held outside under the covered veranda or pavillion. Group size is a maximum of 4 people. No larger groups accepted at this time. Please note they are closed on Sundays.
Beginning this weekend, the wine garden at Tawse will be open for by-the-glass cider, cocktails and wine. Updates regarding tours and tastings is coming soon.
Starting Friday, June 19. Open for self-guided walk-in tastings between 11am – 5pm, 7 days per week. Pre-booked tastings also available on weekends.
Open as of this weekend for reservation-only tastings. Walk-ins are welcome but due to social distancing and limited space, reserved groups will be accepted first. please keep groups to 5 people or less.
Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday (and holiday Mondays) for self-directed tastings by disposable glass. Self check-out on your mobile device. Same quarantine family only (2-5 guests per table). No reservation is required. First come, first served. All tables are cleaned thoroughly between each use. The bergola (behind the winery) is available for private fight tastings under a reservation only policy. Curbside and delivery still available 7 days per week.
Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday for reservation only guided tastings. Book 30 minutes or 1 hour depending on how many wines you’d like to taste and if you’d like to sit outside on their vineyard-facing muskoka chairs.
From 11am – 4pm daily under a reservation only policy. Tastings to accommodate a maximum group size of four people and are served individually and cannot be shared.
Patio is now open for tastings. Book your reservation online at www.icellars.ca/tastings
Tastings are by appointment only. Visitor numbers are limited. Check with winery on further details.
Guided tastings available in 30 minute time slots under a reservation only policy. Email or call the winery to book your slot.
Offering private tastings on the patio by appointment only. Tastings will be available Thursday – Sunday from 12-4pm. They will be approximately 30 minutes in length and will be limited to a maximum of 4 people, from the same household, as per current government regulations.
Beginning Friday, June 12, and from Thursday through Sunday every week afterward, tastings can be arranged by reservation only between the hours of 10am-6pm. The winery is now accepting reservations for June 8th.
Starting Friday, June 12 between 11am and 6pm. No reservations required. Groups no larger than 5 and all tastings will be conducted outdoors to ensure proper ventilation.
Located in Mono, Ontario (near Orangeville), this winery is a bit off the beaten path in relation to Niagara, but it’s a place worth the visit nonetheless. Now conducting tastings on their patio Wednesday through Sunday between 12 noon and 8pm. Reservations are recommended.
Open daily 11am – 5pm for outdoor tastings – maximum 4 people per tasting. Reservations are required and tastings are individual and cannot be shared.
Open for outdoor tastings by reservation only. Visit their website to book.
Daily under a reservation only policy. Tastings to accommodate a maximum group size of four people and are served individually and cannot be shared.
Tastings by reservation only. Call in advance.
*Please note that all is subject to change. It is wise to check with the winery by calling well in advance before making any definitive plans. If you know of any additional wineries that we have missed, that are now open for tastings, please let us know by contacting us on Instagram @vineroutes or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org