Before this summer is over, jump in the car and discover what lies beyond Buffalo –the Greater Niagara Region. You’ll be amazed at the numerous wineries, farms, and family run orchards. Pick your own mouth-watering cherries, peaches, or pungent garlic. Stay at a haunted B&B or dine in the picturesque Lewiston village. There is so much to enjoy in the Greater Niagara Region, here are a few memorable highlights from my visit.
In Albion, New York stay overnight at The Pillars Estate. This elegant Victorian mansion was built in the early 1800’s and has been lovingly restored by a colorfully eccentric Scotsman, owner Tony McMurtrie. When we first checked in, McMurtrie told us the property is haunted. Other than waking up a few times during the night and we never spotted anything unusual. I was definitely on the lookout. McMurtrie is a quintessential Titanic fan, and as such, every April he transformed the mansion’s 3,000 square-foot ballroom to host a Titanic-themed Ball. Guests wearing period costumes sip champagne, then watch the midnight fireworks to mark the end of the voyage. It’s the talk of Orleans County.
There are so many wonderful wineries to visit in the Niagara region, but I think the Leonard Oakes Estate Winery in Medina, should definitely be on your list. Established in 2003, this winery is a true family venture with four generations having worked the land and now, making wines. While there, be sure you try their premium 2012 Reserve Riesling and Meritage, then for something a little different, have a taste of their delicious Steampunk Hard Cider, which is winning awards across New York State. It’s simply delicious.
Another interesting winery in Medina is 810 Meadworks. They make mead, a fermented honey wine. Mead, ‘the legendary drink of the gods’, is the world’s oldest fermented beverage.
In Lockport, you’ll find Arrowhead Springs Vineyards in a breathtaking setting overlooking the Niagara escarpment. The Owners Duncan and Robin Ross will pour you samples of their latest vintages. They are fine wines to sample. Be sure to try the 2010 Meritage Reserve and the 2012 Pinot Noir, and have winemaker Duncan Ross give you a tour of the cellar and a peek into their future plans. Don’t forget to check out the chicken coup on your way out, it gives the place an even more interesting ambiance.
In Appleton, we met up with Singer Farm Naturals Tom and Vivianne Singer Szulist. You can learn a lot about growing organic fruits and garlic at Singer Farms and the couple are truly passionate about sustainable and organic farming. Vivianne will happily tell you about the virtues of their cherries, and how they can boost immunity plus improve overall cardiovascular health, as well as how garlic is used for healing and health. Best of all, you can pick your own cherries and buy tart cherry juice to bring home.
Picture perfect Lewiston is a beautiful place to stay. Unlike Niagara-on-lake, which is just across the river in Canada, Lewiston is less crowded and more accessible. There are lovely shops, and concerts in the park, or, if you’re adventuresome, head down to Niagara River and do a Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour. Next time I visit I’m taking the culinary food tour with the Roaming Table, where you get to stop and sample delicious eat’s at Carmelo’s, the Orange Cat, among others and you’ll understand why the village has been voted as one of the best culinary destinations by Rand McNally.
There are so many things to see and explore in Niagara Falls. Hiking or biking the Niagara State Park trails is one of the most popular. Then there’s Savor restaurant at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute for a great lunch prepared by the students. Why go to a chain restaurant when you can choose from well-priced lunch items and made fresh daily by the students. Two of my favorites included the roasted avocado salad and Maine lobster roll. A trip to the patisserie, also in the institute, will get you access to some fabulous desserts baked on premises.
After lunch, stop by the Castellani Art Gallery where you’ll view a collection from some of the 20th century’s most prolific artists, particularly from the latter half of the 1900s. Make sure you call ahead to get a beat on current exhibits.