The Liquor Board of Ontario (LCBO) may have a monopoly on selling imported alcohol in Ontario, and sure, there is a great selection of spirits for all occasions offered at their stores. But lets not forget the impressive local selection of vineyards, breweries and distilleries.
Ontario’s fertile lands and innovative, creative locals consistently produce wonderful local beverages. Buying from the Ontario-made alcohol market is a wonderful way to support the local economy, while seizing the opportunity to enjoy the some of the best spirits Canada has to offer.
Here’s a starting point for finding Ontario’s best wineries, breweries and distilleries!
Ontario’s Best Wineries:
We’ve hand selected these vineyards based on the 2014 Ontario Wine Awards.
- With a rich history dating back to 1927, Peller Estates Winery offers a celebrated selection of red and white wine. At the winery located in Niagra-on-the-Lake, you can tour the vineyards and sample wines at tastings. There are regular special events and you can pair wines with a good meal at the Peller Estates Winery Restaurant. Most of the wines range from about $18 to $35, and you can purchase them online, too.
- Château des Charmes, in St. Davis, is particularly lauded for its icewines and white wines, though their reds are delicious too. This charming winery is owned by a fifth generation French wine grower, who upholds the values of sustainable production. Enjoy public tours and tastings seven days a week. Wines are also available for purchase online. Bottles range from as low as $5 to about $65.
- A tour at the award-winning winery, Vineland Estates Winery, is 60 minutes long and includes a sampling of three wines. The staff have exceptional knowledge about the various wines. Selections include sparkling whites, a “classic” series, pinot gris, pinot blanc, chardonnay, dry or semi-dry riesling, cabernet fran, and many other varieties. Dine at the restaurant or come for a special event, like Winter Winefest or Niagra Icewine Festival.
- Inniskillin, located in Niagara-On-The-Lake, is especially notable for its icewine, which accounts for about 10 per cent of this fantastic winery’s production. They also produce a reserve series, a discovery series (which uses unusual varieties of grapes), and a single vineyard series and more. Try a bottle and you’ll understand why Inniskillin is considered one of Ontario’s best wineries. You can purchase them at LCBO, too.
Ontario’s Best Breweries:
- Cool Beer Brewing Company constantly wins awards and recognition for its extremely drinkable selection. the Cool Beer Lager, this their flagship flavor, and one of our favorites. The Millennium Buzz is the the only hemp-based lager in Canada – it’s 100 per cent natural. Find the brewery is in Brampton, but you can place an order online and have a shipment brought right to your door
- Hop City Brewery offers fun and delicious beers. Try the Barking Squirrel, a medium-bodied lager, or Mr. Huff, a blend of German and Czech styles. The new HopBot IPA is made with five west coast American hops, and has a citrusy flavor. The Hop City brewers clearly love what they do, as evidenced by the great taste of their product.
- Flying Monkey Craft Brewery in Barrie offers free tours and samples daily. Visit and you’ll find friendly and knowledgeable staff – and you can drink your fill of samples. Their lager, witbier, dark IPA and stout are award winning, and their chocolate stout is a local favorite.
- Liberty Village Brewing Company in Toronto is relatively new to the local beer scene, but it’s already winning recognition for their for their stouts and IPAs. You can find and enjoy their selections at many popular bars and restaurants in the city, including Porter House, Wise Boys, Bar Vespa and Chill Ice House.
Ontario’s Best Distilleries:
Canadian whisky has an international reputation, and some of it comes from right here in Ontario! You’ll also find local vodkas, gin, rum and so much more.
- Located in Ottawa, North of 7 Distillery handcrafts award-winning whisky, rum, gin and vodka. The distillery is owned and run by two local Ontarians, whose rock climbing trips regularly brought them down to Kentucky. Naturally, they developed an appreciation for “brown spirits.” Lucky for us, they brought back their love of good southern drinks to Ontario. You can buy their products online or at their Ottawa store.
- Forty Creek Whiskey, in Grimbsy, makes rich, bold whiskeys with honey, vanilla and apricot tastes, as well as oak, black walnut and spice flavors. There are seven varieties to choose from, including the popular Barrel Select and Copper Pot, as well as yearly limited releases. You can visit the distillery to sample them, or take a tour, or buy bottles online or at LCBO.
- At Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers in Beamsville, you can find rye whiskey, vodka, gin, bitters, absinthe and more. If you sip their finely crafted spirits, it’ll quickly become clear that the owners go to great efforts to perfect their craft. Visiting this local distillery would make a great date, or day out with friends – you’ll be treated to a tour and sample. Then, you can pick up a bottle to bring home. You can also find their selections at quite a few bars and restaurants across the province.
Check out these and other local Ontario wineries, breweries and distilleries to find your favorite!
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