Looking for a place for a romantic getaway? A road trip with friends? An activity for a bachelorette party?
As far as I’m concerned, any opportunity is good to spend a few days wandering the vineyard terraces while enjoying local products. I am particularly fond of the Prince Edward County region which I had briefly mentioned in my Ontario road trip article, but this time, I explored the Niagara region. In April 2023, I went back to test the benefits of the Visa Infinite credit card to share what’s new with you.
Enjoy the benefits of the Visa Infinite card.
With my Visa Infinite credit card in hand and screenshots of promotional offers from the website, I knew that my experience would be better and more economical.
First, you should know that most wineries in the Niagara region operate on an appointment basis, especially since the pandemic. However, I booked the day before or the morning of for the wineries I visited and the vast majority had availability despite it being the weekend. However, if you have your eye on specific vineyards or wish to follow a particular itinerary, plan ahead.
The Visa Infinite offers vary from 2-for-1 on tastings or tours, to free food with the purchase of a glass of wine on the terrace, discounts on the purchase of bottles or delivery when ordering online, etc.
To apply the offers, all you have to do is mention that you have a Visa Infinite (or Visa Infinite Preferred) credit card and sometimes pay with it. Personally, I liked to show the screenshot of the offer, but none of the vendors required it, the employees on site knew about the promotion. This is by far the easiest promotion I’ve taken advantage of, plus I was able to share it with friends who didn’t have the card.
My opinion on the locations visited as part of the program
A new addition to the list, Creekside offers cardholders a glass of signature sauvignon blanc with the purchase of two tasting packages. The board includes 4 wines of your choice. The establishment also produces ciders that you can try. The cute terrace on the edge of the creek enhances the experience.
No products are available at the SAQ. Bottles start at $15.
Flat Rock Cellar
Newly added to the Visa benefits, this winery offers 2 for 1 on tasting palettes, Monday through Friday only. We can choose our own selection from the list. I must admit that none of us had a crush on the products of this establishment, which is a shame since the view and the elevated terrace are exceptional and even allow you to see Toronto on clear days. Bottles between 15$ and 40$.
Henry of Pelham Family estate winery
We were able to take advantage of the 2-for-1 on the tasting palette at Henry of Pelham Winery. The selection of 3 wines was made among a choice of 9 bottles so we could create a palette according to our preferences.
To be enjoyed on the picnic tables on the outdoor lawn with a good bag of popcorn offered in-house. Henry of Pelham is one of the few facilities that operates entirely without reservation. Affordable bottles starting at $15 are available, some of which can be purchased at the SAQ.
A pillar in the Canadian wine industry. It is present in the Okanagan in addition to the Niagara region. The offer is 2-for-1 for the tasting of 3 wines of your choice. A 10% discount on food will be applied on presentation of the Visa Infinite credit card. We ordered two gourmet platters to share which were good and of good quality, including Quebec cheeses. Although many wines are listed at the SAQ, only 3 are available at this time. Bottles start at $13.
Well located on the main street where several wineries are clustered, Lakeview is well worth a stop. The offer stated that a side dish of chips and dip would be provided with the purchase of two tastings palettes. However, they advised us when we arrived that they would be using a 2-for-1 formula for the palettes instead. In the end, as we bought bottles, they completely waived the tasting fee for the whole table and also gave us a 50% voucher for Queenston Mile Winery, which I understand is now owned by the same owner. Not available at the SAQ. Bottles from $13.
NOMAD at Hinterbrook
The benefit of the card is a membership to their exclusive members club and a bottle of Late Harvest Riesling with the purchase of 2 tasting boards. It was nice to do the tasting outside. The Nomad at Hinterbrook winery stands out for its minimalist approach and its self-designed white labels. It is an original concept, but the service was a bit cold. Bottles from $16.
Another big banner of the wine industry also present in Western Canada. We chose this location to do a guided tour because of its 2-for-1 promotion which is valid for 4 people per card. Another element that attracted us is their ice bar, which is part of the tour to make the ice wine tasting a little more funky. The experience was enjoyed by all, and by going outside of peak season, the experience was more intimate.
Reservation required by phone via My Wine Country concierge service to apply the promotion. Not available at the SAQ. Bottles start at $11.
Queenston Mile differentiates itself from other offers by offering a free cheese platter with the purchase of two tastings worth $20 each for 3 wines. The industrial chic decor is nice and the location has two terraces to enjoy the nice weather. Great customer service. Products not available at the SAQ. Bottles are mostly priced between $25 and $35.
Reif estate winery
We were treated to a tasting at the bar with personalized service at the Reif winery. The bartender would describe and explain each wine, taking care to ask our opinion. He was interested in our tastes and built the tasting according to what we might like.
We were again treated to extras, having the chance to try more than four wines. The atmosphere was muffled at the bar, and we received a quality service.
Wide range of wines with prices from $13 to $100. The promotion gives a 10% discount on in-person experiences such as tastings, tours and Winemaker’s loft tasting. The VISA10 promo code must be entered online or simply show your card on site.
Stratus remains my favorite location out of all the ones I’ve visited in my various stays. The food, wine and terrace were all enjoyable at Stratus Winery. The promotional offer has changed since my last visit. The 2-for-1 formula is now applied to the tasting boards. The tasting can be self-guided thanks to the QR code to be scanned on the phone, but during our visit we received explanations in person.
The choice is to be made between two palettes with pre-established wines. The bottles are more expensive than other places, but because of their quality, I always choose them as special occasion bottles. Prices are mostly between $40 and $125, some of which are available at the SAQ.
Sue-Ann Staff Winery
Sue-Ann Staff Winery is another location where it was nice to take advantage of the 2-for-1 on tastings.
I found it pleasant to enjoy the outdoor courtyard in this nicely decorated venue. The staff was friendly and it felt more like a family atmosphere.
We first choose the range of wine we want for the tasting and select our three favourites to taste. Some wines are available at the SAQ.
Bottles are priced between $18 and $55.
The vineyard is under the management of the My Wine country website, along with Wayne Gretzky and Peller estate. However, the experience was not as interesting as in these two locations. Visa Infinite cardholders receive a 2-for-1 discount on the tasting palette which is normally $27 for 4 wines. The latter is pre-selected and not adjustable. Bottles are priced from $25. Not available at the SAQ.
Wayne Gretzky Estates
This well-known industry attracts many customers. The outdoor area of the vineyard is well laid out, with the pond, outdoor bars and vineyards as the backdrop.
I took advantage of the 2-for-1 for the guided tour, which also included three tastings. I found it interesting to choose the visit to this winery over another because they also make beer and whiskey.
The scale of the business, however, has the negative effect of depersonalizing the service. During the guided tour, we felt like we were going through the “sausage machine” with a tight schedule and a well-learned text by the guide, who had to finish in time for her next group.
I still liked the location and the variety offered. You just have to know what to expect. Many wines and whisky available at the SAQ. Up to 4 guests per Visa Infinite card.
A vineyard very well known for its ice wines, with 26 products at the SAQ. I had high expectations for this visit, and I must admit I was disappointed. The location is beautiful inside and out, but the service was terrible. We were pretty much left to our own devices, and the waiters seemed completely disinterested. This does not detract from the quality of ice wines, but let’s face it, big companies that hire seasonal workers do not offer the same warmth as a small family vineyard where people talk about their wines with passion. It is now part of the Visa Infinite benefits program and offers a 2 for 1 on the tasting of 3 wines in addition to a 10% discount on food. It’s worth giving it a second chance.
My opinion on the other locations we visited
13th Street Winery
Currently the number one winery in Ontario, 13th Street was one of the most popular visits of our last trip. The tasting included 6 wines to choose from for $20 and was explained to us by an oenology student who offered excellent service. The location also has its own art gallery and an excellent bakery. Only one product available at the SAQ at this time. Bottles from $15.
A small rustic vineyard, Calamus offered free tastings in April to attract people. The format was 3 wines to choose from. Good experience to visit a location that produces smaller quantities that will not be sold at the SAQ. Bottles vary from $18 to $36.
Konzelmann estate winery
The Konzelmann vineyard is best known for its peach wine, the star fruit of the region. This does not prevent it from producing white, rosé, red, sparkling, ice wine and a vintage range.
The building is halfway between a castle and a church. The tastings are done inside. Decent service, but nothing more. Most bottles are between $15 and $25 except for the reserve selection. Some availability at the SAQ.
Caroline Cellars, with its more rustic feel, offered a warm, family-friendly experience. The tasting was more intimate and could be done inside or outside.
All of their wines are available for tasting and the fee of only $5 is waived with the purchase of a bottle. The tasting includes four wines, but the winemaker was flexible in allowing us more. Most bottles sell for between $11 and $15.
Two sisters Vineyards
This majestic vineyard impresses with its luxury. It accepts walk-in clients on a first-come, first-served basis.
Personally, this is the one that made the worst impression on me despite the beautiful venue. The tasting palette was $30 for four one-ounce wines, the most we paid in the area. In addition, they charged us a $10 surcharge to share the tasting, a practice I had never seen at any other Canadian winery.
The service was unsatisfactory. Bottles start at $35.
Between the lines Winery
Between the lines is a small, friendly family-run winery where we are taken care of, one wine at a time, and each one is explained to us. Excellent service with employees who knew how to make us laugh.
It is possible to order trays to accompany the tasting. They also have take away boxes of cheese and wine in cans. Perfect for a sunset picnic. Bottles from $20.
Kew has withdrawn from Visa Infinite offers. It remains however pleasant to discover this small and charming vineyard which favors traditional methods. Outdoor tasting of a choice of three wines. Possibility to order a cheese platter and their homemade cider. Overall pleasant experience with affordable wines almost all under $25.
This establishment was recommended to us by several people, including our waiter at 13th Street who explained that they and Malivoire have been trading off the top spot in the industry in Ontario over the years. The service and wines were excellent. The price was $15 for 3 wines to choose from, but they were flexible and open to present us with other products. Three of their wines are currently on sale at the SAQ. Most bottles are between $20 and $40.
The proximity of Rockway to other destinations and the low cost of the tasting package led us to make a discovery stop at this location. At $10 for a choice of 3 wines, Rockway is among the cheapest. They were also flexible on the number of products to try. The friendly Franco-Ontarian waitress even served us in French. The only disappointment was doing the tasting while standing in the store rather than in an enchanting setting like most locations. Not available at the SAQ. Bottles from $17.
Pillitteri estate winery
This establishment has withdrawn from the Visa Infinite offers. However, I liked the service during my tasting. The wines are served one at a time with explanations. The choice is yours and although we pay for a tasting of 4 wines, we are asked if there is anything else we want to try on the menu. So we tried 3 other wines at no extra charge. This winery also encourages Canadian athletes. Royalties are paid to Team Canada for their branded bottles, which are also available at the SAQ. To top it off, they welcomed us without a reservation. Bottles from $15.
Visiting vineyards is done all year round. It is suitable for both rainy days and sunny afternoons on the terrace. Many people travelled by bike because the flat landscape and the proximity of the establishments are conducive to this type of travel.
Driver services or organized tours are also available in the area. With 89 wineries, the Niagara region will amaze you again and again. For a complete list of Visa Infinite benefits applicable at Canadian wineries, visit the Visa Infinite website.