Ontario’s Wine Country: A land of hidden gems

ImageI sometimes get mistaken for a wine expert – probably because I Tweet about wine. A lot. I’ve been known to Instagram the odd label or two as I guzzle some grapes. It’s a healthy obsession, even if my wife and I keep a wine journal. A what? A wine journal – essentially a lovely booklet where you record the details of your wine purchases and affix the labels from emptied bottles. We were the Pinterest of the wine world before, um, Pinterest.

My foray into wine commenced a few years ago when my buddy Duviner invited us on a trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake. We explored vineyards. Sampled local food. Tasted wine. Bought wine. Tasted more wine. But mostly, we saw beautiful parts of Ontario we never knew existed.

A new hobby was born.

Several trips to NOTL and the Niagara Escarpment later and an inaugural trip to Prince Edward County this past summer has netted our family a nice collection of Ontario wines. My unsophisticated and untrained pallet prefers ice wine and whites when selecting from Ontario’s vineyards. That’s not to say there isn’t good red to be found (Hello Le Clos Jordanne), but I prefer to turn to B.C.’s Okanagan when it comes to Syrahs, Pinots and other varietals of red.

When I was contacted to take part in the 12 Days of Wine Country Ontario contest, I didn’t hesitate to say “YES”! As a displaced Vancouverite, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by what Ontario has to offer in terms of scenery, artisanal crafts and food, and of course, wine. Our family trip to P.E.C. for Labour Day Weekend provided us plenty of entertainment for the kids on the beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park in addition to some wonderful opportunities to navigate rustic back roads in search of secluded wineries.

Rolling down the road to Closson Chase was a highlight only surpassed by the many wonderful Chardonnays that we sampled. Who wouldn’t like pulling up to a big purple barn to taste wine? But the wine spoke for itself and we managed to find room between the strollers to bring a half-case home for our collection.

So what is this contest about?

I’m giving away a $100 gift card to Stratus. I like Stratus because they put a lot of effort into making one great red and one great white each year. It’s simple. It tastes good. A new surprise is delivered annually. What’s not to like? They also make amazing ice wine, which I could probably drink by the litre.

So how can you enjoy some of this fine Stratus wine? Easy…

Tell me in the comments section below which charity you are donating to this holiday season and why it is important to you. It will be a chance for me to learn about your charity of choice and it will allow me to reward one lucky (and community conscious) person with $100 towards some great wine. Win-Win, non?

You can also share your charity of choice with me via Twitter. Hit me up @jaimestein and make sure to use the hashtag #12DaysWCO. Contest will close on Wednesday, December 19th at 11:59pm Eastern.

Want to learn more about Wine Country Ontario? Check them out:


About Jaime Stein

Jaime is the Senior Manager, Social Media at Hootsuite. He is a digital marketer with expertise in social media and content marketing. His experience stems from leading the social media strategy for two national brands. Jaime holds an MBA with a focus in Marketing and Strategy from the Rotman School of Management where he was selected valedictorian by the students of the Morning MBA Class of 2011. He is the former radio voice of the Toronto Argonauts and currently lives in Vancouver with his wife and two sons.
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21 Responses to Ontario’s Wine Country: A land of hidden gems

  1. Unfortunately, this holiday season I won’t be able to give back to my charity, because school will be out! But during the school year I volunteer with the Breakfast every Tuesday morning. With a team of 5 boys in grade 7-9, we prepare a nutritious breakfast for all of the students to enjoy. Spending my time with them makes my week. I urge everyone reading the comments to go out into the community and spend time with others. Give back by getting off your butt!

    P.S. I love wine and am now inspired by your wine journal! I also have stratus wine in my fridge 🙂

  2. colleenmariecole says:

    My charity of choice isn’t exactly a charity. I am a volunteer moderator for Freecycle. I have been for 7+ years. I feel strongly about leaving the earth a better place and Freecycle keeps stuff out of landfill by diverting it to people who want/need it. At this time of the year, I go through my house and find new items that I never used and I post it on Freecycle so that members who can’t afford to buy gifts will still have a Christmas gift. Last year I provided gifts for an entire family when they lost their home to a fire two days before Christmas. It’s been a lot of work over the years, but it is so worthwhile. You can learn more at Freecycle.org.

    • Jaime Stein says:

      What a great story, Colleen. Thanks for sharing info about Freecycle – it is nice to learn about something new each day. Since joining ING DIRECT in February, I’ve learned a ton about sustainability from many of my co-workers who are passionate about this important cause. I’ll definitely check out Freecycle.org.

  3. This holiday season we chose to donate to WWF Canada. I have young siblings (8, 6 and 4) and wanted to be able to contribute to a charity in a way that they could get involved. The money donated goes towards helping protect wildlife and endangered species. For each donation we made, WWF Canada sent us an “adoption” certificate in each child’s name, as well as a booklet containing information about the animal that they were helping to protect. It’s a great way to get kids involved and help them understand how they can help their planet from a young age. They loved learned about the animals and their habitats and I felt good that we all were able to contribute to a great cause.

    • Jaime Stein says:

      What a great way to share the gift of giving to young people. I think it is really important to start young – my dad used to have me sit with him when he would send out donations each year and he would explain each organization to me. I really like the idea of adopting an endangered species. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Mmmm, so glad that you discovered PEC wines this year. We need to have a discussion about that some time. I spent a lot of time driving through that area over the past few years sampling and buying. (anyone who thinks this takes being a wine snob is wrong – the pleasure is that there are some fabulous $12 bottles to be had in beautiful locations that do not charge admission fees). I have one bottle, a very special 2007 Foch Reserve, that we tucked into my suitcase when we moved west – the moving company wouldn’t take the wine collection, so we had a lot of great going-away parties.

    Charities this December – where to start…most significant and unusual donation will be a scholarship for mature students in memory of a family member given as a Christmas gift within my family.


    • Jaime Stein says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Christina. Next time you are in TO we should chat PEC wines!! I like your scholarship for mature students idea. It is unique.

  5. Candace Young says:

    The charity I’m most involved with is the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Centre Sarnia-Lambton. Every year I donate a gift for their client Christmas party and I donate my time year round as a member of the board and PR committee.

  6. Howard says:

    I work in the wonderful world of retail, so I don’t have a tonne of cash for charities. This year has already been especially expensive with everyone hitting me up for a movember donation or other fundraiser.

    However, every year we have employee appreciation day at work and I load up on inexpensive kids books which I bring to the toy mountain box in the mall and make a donation.

    While I hate the holidays, I think every kid should get some type of book.

  7. booman35 says:

    This year I donated toys and food (through a drop box at my workplace) to Oshawa’s Simcoe Hall Settlement House (www.simcoehall.com)

    Cheers and Merry Christmas to everyone.

    • Jaime Stein says:

      Thanks for sharing!! I think companies can help amplify the donation effect by collecting donations on behalf of employees and distributing them to organizations in need.

  8. Jacquie Bolton says:

    Mmmmmm love NOTL and PEC wines. I’ve been making annual trips with my parents for years! Hubby worked in Picton for a summer as a chef – spent many weekends checking out the wineries and lil’ food stops all over the island. Huffs chardonay is still one of my all time favourites.

    Second Harvest is my charity for the holidays. Appreciate that they are providing 2 meals for every $1 raised and that they are saving food that can be eaten from landfills.

    • Jacquie Bolton says:

      Ok in reading that again – doesn’t come across right! Love that Second harvest is collecting and distributing food that would otherwise go to landfill.

      • Jaime Stein says:

        We waste so much in our society, so it is nice to see organizations that are helping make better use of some of that potential waste. Thanks for sharing, Jacquie!!

  9. Wayne S says:

    We sponsor a child in Tanzania through World Vision, and every year we buy his village something different. Last year we purchased sports equipment for the local school, and this year we are contributing to the installation of a new water pump. We receive several letters from our sponsored child every year, and it’s amazing to see how far these gifts go!

    • Jaime Stein says:

      What a great way to help, Wayne. I spent time teaching at a school in Tanzania in 2007. I was shocked at how little they had – they didn’t even have electricity. I brought some CFL footballs for them to play with. I had so much fun teaching them how to play a new game. Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. Pingback: Many ways to give this holiday season: Learning from others | Lessons Learned with Jaime Stein

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