Thursday, August 23, 2012

The LCBO Goes Local in Style

Many of us are guilty of forgetting the amazing gifts we have in our own backyard -- the shopping, the history, the food, the wine. The LCBO and Wine Country Ontario are aiming to change that with their People Are Talking campaign set to launch in store and at local events from September 16 to October 13, 2012. In celebration of what's to come, I was lucky enough to snag an invite to an unforgettably stylish experience in Niagara that left no doubt in my mind -- We've got a lot to love at our local vineyards. 
When your day starts out with limo transport to wine country, a breakfast of locally made nibbles and a helicopter tour, you can be fairly certain it will be a fabulous one. Needless to say when I landed at Château Des Charmes and was presented with a glass of their lovely Brut Sparkling Wine by Marketing Director, Michele Bosc, I was certain I had died and landed in Beyoncé's life. I was so jet set.

Tasting 5 more Château Des Charmes wines including their 2010 Aligoté, St. David's Bench Vineyard (my favourite) along with local artisanal cheese was a complete treat and I would've been totally content if that was the end of the day... but off we went to the Trius at Hillebrand Winery where we enjoyed a 4 course lunch with wine pairings al fresco. The main, dry aged Wellington County beef ribeye with a Riesling sauerkraut and oxtail ravioli, was accompanied by a 2010 Merlot served seductively from a decanter known as "Mamba". 10 points for impressive wine pouring.
Now at this point, I thought I might be due for a nap with the early morning start time and generous "tastings" but a Segway tour at Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery was up next. I looked like Sara Safety, but still managed to teeter on castrophe when I tried to do some precision steering with my "off road" model. Hey! It's a little strange to get used to using your body weight to drive. After touring we tasted in the estate cellar and I highly recommend the 2010 Baco Noir Reserve or Cuvée Catherine, next time you need to pop the cork.
The last, but quite possibly my favourite, stop of the day was our dinner at The Restaurant at Peninsula Ridge. The food was amazing! Executive Chef, Pierre Bourget, elevates  casual dining with comfort food that has just the right level of sophistication. My new favourite salad is his Grilled Romaine Heart Caesar with Prosciutto, Fried Capers, Asiago shaving and Anchovy lemon dressing. Upon hearing Chef Pierre leads his team through 50+ weddings per year I'm determined to be back for a milestone anniversary but will definitely sneak in a few great lunches or dinners next time I'm exploring the region.
LCBO events and promotions won't hit for a few weeks but I'd highly recommend a day in Niagara to soak up our last few days of summer. If you can't squeeze in a staycation, why not host  a little fête to  sample some of our local talent with your friends. Visit to discover pairings for your next party and to choose your own Niagara adventure. As for what to wear, wine country seems to beckon you to come as you are but opt for flats and bring a jacket or pashmina if you're planning to stay for sunset. 

-- Tamika Auwai is a fashion junkie, splurge-a-holic, and founder of Shop Socials

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