Best Of Toronto

Travel Guides

Restaurants Masterlist

Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery

by - November 23, 2017

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being invited to the Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery for a 24 hour getaway. A small group of writers and food bloggers were whisked off to Niagara-On-The-Lake, where we enjoyed a tour of the Wayne Gretzky Estates' distillery and restaurant.

The Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery is a great destination for wine and whisky enthusiasts, but is also a fun learning experience for those who are newer to wine and whisky. The 23,000 square feet facility was designed by award-winning architect Gren Weis, who integrated rural context with contemporary designs. Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery includes a winery, distillery, tasting areas, retail store and hospitality spaces, and barrel cellar. Given the amount of available land, it was a very spacious facility. I have been to Niagara-on-the-Lake on several occasions, and I can definitely see why the city was chosen specifically for the permanent home of the Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery. The region has a rich history in wine excellence, the growth in wine tourism in the area and Wayne’s personal connection to Southern Ontario.
The new Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery adds to
s significant investment and commitment to the Niagara-on-
the-Lake wine region. Niagara-on-the-Lake was chosen
specifically for the permanent home of the Wayne Gretzky
Estates Winery and Distillery because of its rich history in
wine excellence, the growth in wine tourism in the area and

s personal connection to Southern Ontario.
Our first stop was to Queen’s Landing, a four-star hotel in Niagara-On-The-Lake, for a one-night stay. The hotel room was spacious with a Queen-sized bed, study table, couch and various amenities. I didn’t get to enjoy the hotel room as much, as after settling into our individual hotel rooms, everyone met in the lobby to board the bus to the Wayne Gretzky Estates to start the afternoon.  

There, we were greeted by resident mixologist, Zachary Kvas, who enthusiastically took us through a cocktail demonstration. His cocktail contained cinnamon, star anais whisky, and pumpkin syrup with Dillon’s Bitters. Afterwards, we followed him into a tasting room where we crafted our own signature cocktail using the provided ingredients and tools. We learned the importance of balancing the strength of the alcohol by adding a variety of different notes to the drink.

Our night continued with a Wine vs. Whisky dinner, which was held in their VIP Club Lounge. The dinner space overlooked the amazing views of the bar and vineyards. We were served a three course meal paired with wine and whisky that complemented each dish.

The first course was the Fall Minestrone Soup - spiced cheese straw, house prosciutto fresh mozzarella paired with Wayne Gretzky Estate Chardonnay 2013 and Indiana Jones and the Fennel of Doom.

Next up was the Ontario Lamb - whisky caramel pecan crusted lamb shank, grilled lamb sirloin, and merguez sausage and wine red cabbage with white bean and chorizo cassoulet, and fall heirloom carrots paired with Wayne Gretzky Estate Red 2015 and My-Mint of the Lambs.

The last course was dessert, which took place outside at the bar patio (near the 99 ice rink). There, we were treated to Gretzky Creamed Whisky Cheesecake Bar - caramel popcorn, dark chocolate, and toffee pear paired with Wayne Gretzky Estate Vidal Icewine 2016 and Wayne Gretzky Creamed Whisky.

The next morning, we headed to Trius, the winery on-site. Split into two teams, we went about checking the facility. The team I was on started off above ground, as we checked out how they ferment the grapes in wooden barrels. The second half of the activity introduced us to Craig McDonald (lead winemaker), who provided us with some of the younger white wines for tasting. The hands-on experience was a lot of fun, as we dwell into the art of wine-marking. Interestingly enough, the Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery's existing production facilities allow for the production of 313,000 cases of wines and 12,000 cases of craft spirits.

After the winery, we went back inside for breakfast. Breakfast was served buffet style, and there was a mixture of different foods such as house baked carrot muffins, granola, cow’s milk yoghurt, fresh strawberries, house made pork sausages, and ice wine cured and smoked salmon.

The day continued, and we jet off to meet up with Joshua Beach, the resident master distiller. Joshua Beach studied at Heriot Watt in Scotland, where he completed his MSc in Brewing and Distilling at one of the best schools in the world. We got a mini tour of the facility, and then it was off to the tasting room, where we got a taste of various flights.

Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery's design celebrates the rural landscape of Niagara with immense glass walls, light metal roof, stained wood siding and a mixture of concrete/stone interventions. Wayne Gretzky wines celebrate excellence in winemaking across our country, and they have great pride in their products. The wines are produced from the finest grapes developed by some of the greatest winemakers in the country.

Prior to our departure from the Niagara-On-The-Lake region, we were generously gifted with a gift box containing a bunch of Wayne Gretzky wines products including their newest product, Wayne Gretzky No 99 ‘Red Cask’ Canadian Whisky. It’s a whisky finished in red wine casks from the Gretzky winery. I had an amazing 24 hours, and thank you so much to Lori and Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery for hosting. 

Social Media: 

Disclaimer: The event provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

You May Also Like