For all of the talk about how a region’s terroir can affect the condition of its grapes, there’s a tendency to underestimate the equally important role that location plays when it comes to actually experiencing a wine. And yet, a winery that appeals to our sense of sight as strongly as it appeals to our sense of taste can successfully transform a great pinot into something even more profound.
Wineries that offer onsite accommodations possess another strategic advantage. After all, removing the only real downside of the winery experience — that nagging question of how you’re going to get home at the end of it all — allows visitors to truly relax and savour each sip. All of this to say, the comfortable rental properties and design-forward backdrop at 13th Street Winery in St. Catharines make it an ideal destination for turning an afternoon of wine tasting into a richer, more full-bodied experience. With a range of 475 kilometres, this is an easy weekend jaunt for GTA residents in BMW’s charming iX. Even with a bit of additional exploring in the region, getting there and back comfortably on a single charge is a cakewalk. Given the amount of cargo space behind the rear seats, visitors can easily make room to pack a case of wine home alongside their weekend luggage.
For those looking to plan an extended visit, a choice of two rental properties — the Vineyard Cottage and the Farmhouse — offer modern reinterpretations of traditional rural retreats. A sophisticated blend of white walls and black accents gives each property its own appealing architectural identity. (But don’t take our word for it — 13th Street Winery won the Outstanding Achievement in Architecture from the Niagara Biennial Design Awards in 2020.) Both rentals sleep up to eight people, with full kitchens and sprawling decks that are perfect for hosting the entire family or a big group of friends.
An onsite art gallery is another key draw, showcasing rotating selections of historical and contemporary works by Canadian artists. Throughout October, a collection of oil paintings by David Urban highlight the artist’s abstract compositions and expressive brushstrokes. A second gallery space is currently filled with evocative landscapes by watercolourist Robert Amirault. For anyone with a blank wall at home, consider this a perfect place to source strong contenders. Meanwhile, the outdoor sculpture garden — think New York’s Storm King Art Centre, but transplanted to Niagara — invites visitors to admire abstract metallic compositions by Douglas Bentham and monolithic volcanic rock sculptures by Chaka Chikodzi.
On the topic of art and design, this is yet another reason that the new BMW iX and 13th Street Winery are well aligned. Its bright and airy interior cabin is exceptionally finished, using eco-friendly FSC certified wood for its centre console and trim panels, and an elegant curved display panel than extends out from the driver’s instrumentation unlike anything else in the industry. From stem to stern there’s an attention to design details at both a visual and functional level — something that occasionally feels like a lost art in the automotive world.
As for the wine itself? Expect rich but fresh gems like the Grande Cuvée Blanc de Noir 2013, which features notes of brown sugar, grilled lemons, and white cherries, and recently scored 94 points from Wines in Niagara. With 40 acres of estate vineyards growing everything from Gamay Noir to Chardonnay to Pinot Gris, everyone’s favourite grape is represented. Founded in 1998, the winery is also Sustainable Winemaking Ontario Certified, meaning it’s leading the region in environmental performance.
One final tasting note: 13th Street Winery’s butter tarts, which are served fresh in a bakery that operates out of the property’s original farmhouse, and are highly praised as some of the best in Ontario.