Wineries and dogs! OK wine lovers and dog lovers, this article is for you! Plan your next day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake (or NOTL for short) and visit some of the best dog-friendly wineries the Niagara region of Ontario has to offer. Wineries make the ideal activity to do with your dog. The laid-back, rural setting of vineyards offering lots of wide-open green space is exactly what my dog enjoys. He’s quite content to lay down on the lawn while I sip away. Not to mention all the attention he gets – it’s a win-win. To help plan your next trip, here are the best dog-friendly wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
About Niagara Region Wines
The Niagara wine region is world-renowned for its wine, especially its ice wine. It’s considered a prime grape-growing area due to its fertile soil and perfect microclimate conditions. This is the reason why it’s Ontario’s largest producer of wine. The Niagara region stretches from Niagara Falls to Hamilton and is divided into two appellations – the Niagara Escarpment (also known as The Bench) and Niagara-on-the-Lake.
More than 40+ grape varieties are grown in this area. It offers the best white grape varieties of Riesling, Vidal, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris. As well as the best red grape varieties of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Baco Noir, Pinot Noir, and Gamay. If you love cool crisp whites or big, bold, and balanced reds you are bound to find both at most top wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
NOTL Dog-Friendly Wineries
IRONWOOD CIDER HOUSE
The Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery, now known as Ironwood Cider House, is recognized as Canada’s original fruit winery. That’s right, 100% of the locally grown berries, stone, and tree fruit is the primary ingredient in their wines and ciders. And, I’m a HUGE fan of their delicious wines. You definitely can taste peach, nectarine, cherry, pear, or apple in their products. It’s what separates them from the rest of the wineries in this area.
Go to Ironwood Cider House for:
- unique and delicious fruit wines (recommend the 2017 Poire Sec)
- crisp and dry fruit-inspired ciders (recommend the new release of Yuja cider)
- cool, modern art-gallery-esque interior wine tasting space
- delicious tapas menu with many vegetarian options (recommend Seasoned jam grilled brie cheese, Sesame Teriyaki Brussel Spouts, and Butter Chickpea)
- pet friendly interior and exterior spaces
Address: 1425 Lakeshore Rd, NOTL
LAKEVIEW WINE CO.
Lakeview Wine Co. is a modern-designed building and anything that is minimalist in design gets my immediate attention. Lakeview Wine Co. is really just the retail branch of Diamond Estates Wines, Ontario’s 3rd largest producer of wines. Enjoying a flight at this winery means you could be sampling any of their nine wines, such as 20 Bees, EastDell, FRESH, and Lakeview Cellars.
Go to Lakeview Wine Co. for:
- wide variety of wines from whites, reds, rosés, and ice wines (recommend Eastdell Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Summer Rosé)
- learn about the winemaking process with on-site tours by friendly, knowledgeable wine specialists
- large wine shop featuring all 9 brands of wine
- dog friendly interior and exterior spaces with grassy lawn and picnic table seating
Address: 1067 Niagara Stone Road, NOTL
Keeping to its original roots of being a small-lot winery, the Marynissen family legacy continues on. Marynissen Estates is rustic, laid-back, and feels like someone’s home. It has a great community feel – almost like you’ve arrived at a backyard party. Don’t be surprised to find music playing, a pop-up market set up, and people roaming their many exterior spaces.
Go to Marynissen Estates for:
- small-lot wines (recommend 2019 Pinot Grigio or Rosé)
- rustic, laid-back vibes
- experiences- reserve their private tent for tastings perfect for large groups or their Wine & Spines book club
- host of 3 of the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s passport events Days of Wine, Chocolate and Cheese (March), Sip & Sizzle (May) and Taste the Season (November)
- dog-friendly interior and exterior spaces
Address: 1208 Concession 1 Rd, NOTL
It feels different here. Visit Palantine Hills and you’ll receive the warmest welcome as if you’re a long-lost friend. The cool interior space resembles a small airplane hanger or garage with a patio space complete with air misters, and cornhole toss. This second-generation family-run winery is a fun place to go for you and your dog. Dog treats, belly rubs, and dog selfies for their photo wall are all part of the pooch experience. And, maybe you might even get to meet Rae the German Shepherd or Penny the Golden Doodle at this ultimate dog friendly winery.
Go to Palatine Hills for:
- variety of whites and reds (recommended Wild & Free, Pinot Grigio)
- fun, friendly atmosphere where the tunes and laughs are guaranteed
- go on a Friday night for their cornhole tournament or listen to live music on Sundays
- where your dog will have just as much fun as you, or maybe even more
Address: 911 Lakeshore Rd, NOTL
RAVINE VINEYARD ESTATES
Ravine Vineyard Estates feels like a warm, family-friendly farm. Maybe that’s because of its early roots dating back to the 1800s. Once a fruit farm, now a winery, the Ravine Vineyard Estate operates like a community or a village, with an on-site Lowery Bros. Grocery shop, restaurant, event space, and vineyards.
Go to Ravine Vineyard Estates for:
- Lowery Bros. Grocery shop for their own jams, honey, pickles, as well as wine and ciders
- dine at The Restaurant offering a farm-to-table menu with live entertainment (recommend the Oyster Mushroom with lentils)
- the pretty vineyard views in a quiet country setting
- dog-friendly interior and exterior spaces
Address: 1366 York Road, St. Davids (NOTL)
SOUTHBROOK ORGANIC VINEYARDS
Southbrook Organic Vineyards is a sleek eye-catching modern winery and it’s just as stunning inside as it is out. As a LEED-designed building this is an architectural gem, and definitely one of my favourites. Beyond the beautiful design of the winery, what makes Southbrook stand out from the rest is that it only produces organic wines. The owner, Bill speaks passionately about the importance of sustainability – using less water, energy, and no chemicals.
Go to Southbrook Organic Vineyards for:
- delicious organic wines (recommend Laundry Riesling, Cabernet Franc Rosé, Triomphe Pinot Noir)
- love architecture and design
- refined tasting room experiences – both interior and exterior spaces
- pretty vineyards with roses (as a natural way to keep the insects away from the grapes)
- dog-friendly spaces
Address: 581 Niagara Stone Road, NOTL
A stunning modern building sits in the middle of its vineyards. Stratus is known as one of the few pump-free wineries in the world. Going against the grain, they use gravity to transport wine to barrels which draws less energy. Environmental impact is important to this winery where they aspire to be one of the world’s most sustainable wineries.
Go to Stratus Vineyards for:
- their signature wines – white, red, and rosé
- chic modern boutique-style tasting rooms
- love architecture (LEED certified building) and modern interior design
- looking for a refined experience with food & drink pairing
- dog friendly on terrace only
Address: 2059 Niagara Stone Rd, NOTL
THE HARE WINE CO.
Winemaking has been in the Hare family for generations and still continues in Bulgaria. The Hare Wine Co. has old-world European charm. With its red rustic brick and barn board flooring. The exterior terrace continues the rustic interlock stone and cast iron tables and chairs.
Go to The Hare Wine Co. for:
- great tasting wines, especially the whites (recommend the Hare Pinot Grigio, Riesling, and Sparkling Rosé)
- old-world European style
- relaxed atmosphere
- dog-friendly interior and exterior spaces
Wine Routes in NOTL
Niagara on the Lake is a small area, and you can easily visit all of these wineries without too much driving. Visiting 3 to 4 wineries in a day seems to be the right balance of not feeling rushed, yet making it a full afternoon. Here are two recommended routes, based on winery proximity making the most of your time in this area.
Route #1: Visit 4 Wineries (QEW Exit Regional Rd 89)
- QEW to Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery = 7 minutes
- Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery to Southbrook Organic Vineyards = 10 minutes
- Southbrook Organic Vineyards to The Hare Wine Co. = 1 minute
- The Hare Wine Co. to Lakeview Wine Co. = 1 minute
Route #2: Visit 4 Wineries (QEW Exit Regional Rd 48)
- QEW to Palatine Hills = 15 minutes
- Palatine Hills to Ironwood Cider House = 4 minutes
- Ironwood Cider House to Stratus Vineyards = 5 minutes
- Stratus Vineyards to Marynissen Estates Winery = 8 minutes
As a holidaymaker…
After many trips and sips, this is my pick for the best dog-friendly wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Most importantly, they are all dog approved by Henry, my 11-year-old Vizsla as his top picks too! Plan your next day trip or weekend in Ontario’s favourite wine country where you don’t have to leave your dog at home.