Written by: Brandon Sousa

Niagara-on-the-Lake has always been the birthplace of Ontario’s best wine. With rich soil and expert wine makers, this region is known for a great glass of vinho. Which is why, it’s no surprise that the greatest hockey player of all time was attracted to this region to launch Wayne Gretzky Estates.

You may first be attracted to The Great One’s name outside the winery and distillery’s wall, but truly, it’s what’s inside that count! The 23,000 square foot space was designed by architect Gren Weis, incorporating a modern low, barn-like structure with immense glass walls to overlook the landscape. The facility itself houses a winery, distillery, tasting areas, retail shop, hospitality spaces and a barrel cellar. Outside, you’ll find The Whisky Bar that sits beside the winter ice rink (or summer-time pond).

Yes, open in the winter, you can bring your skates or rent a pair and take a glide along the home ice at Wayne Gretzky Estates. Then walk over to the Whisky Bar for a glass of wine or a cocktail made with whisky from Master Distiller Joshua Beach.

If skating is not your thing, Wayne Gretzky Estates offers a number of tours and experiences. For the wine enthusiast, The Great Canadian Winery Tour, The Red Line Wine & Food Pairing Experience, and VIP Wine Tastings are offered daily. For the whisky aficionado, a must-try is The Great Canadian Whisky Tour, The Whisky Bartender: Cocktails 101, and The Wine & Whisky After Dark Tour.

The wines of Wayne Gretzky Estates are reflective of its regional identity while combining the approachability of an exceptional every-day wine at a great value. The 2016 Merlot is medium-bodied and fruit-forward with a flavour profile of plum, red berry, cherry, spice, smoke and a note of tobacco leaf. The 2016 Pinot Grigio is light, clean and crisp bringing forward refreshing fruit flavours of lemon, lime, peach and melon followed by notes of citrus and green apple freshness lingering through on the finish.

If great Canadian whisky is what you’re after, the iconic Red Cask Premium Crafted Whisky will not disappoint. At first swirl of the glass look for top notes of toasty new oak, almond nuttiness, caramel and vanilla. Then underlying notes appear suggesting nutmeg spice and stone fruit. After adding a touch of water, added notes of sweet spice and dark raisin develop. The mouth-feel is smooth, round and robust, with a touch of woody tannins for structure, along with deep notes of toasted nuts and allspice. The finish is long and lingering with a delicately sweet, smooth texture and flavours of nut and allspice.

Wayne Gretzky Estates plays host the ideal weekend day-trip, especially in the winter months. Indulge yourself in a truly Canadian experience with notable wines, classic whisky and iconic hockey history.