Imagine a place where lush, rolling farmland and gorgeous blue skies are a regular part of the landscape. A place where the summer sun drenches the countryside and vines of luscious grapes sit plump and ready to be turned into some of the most award-winning wines in the country. A place where you open the windows and let the warm breeze wash over you and even the air smells sweet.
It’s not California. It’s not Tuscany. It’s the Thousand Islands.
Surprised? Come see for yourself! The Thousand Islands region was referred to by early Native American tribes as “the Garden of the Great Spirit”, and centuries of summers have seen vacationers building everything from lifelong memories to sprawling summer homes amongst its shorelines and shoals. When the Thousand Islands-Seaway Wine Trail was established in 2007, this ripe-with-possibility destination added another unique and exciting claim to fame: its one-of-a-kind wines. Winding through 78 miles of the scenic Thousand Islands region with seven member wineries and vineyards, the trail provides easy access to the wide variety and unique tastes of Thousand Islands wine. Wherever you are in the Thousand Islands, at least one winery is a short drive away.
Each winery is family-owned and operated and provides personal service and warm hospitality. All offer an impressive range of choices: classic reds, whites and roses are given a personal touch and a regional twist, and new flavors, techniques and ideas blossom each year to contribute to the ever-expanding list of original creations. Stop in for a tour, sample the wine, and take home your favorite. Wine from the Thousand Islands has developed a reputation for converting anyone to a wine lover with just one taste.
With a fan base that grows each time the doors to the tasting rooms open, the wineries on the Thousand Islands wine trail have dedicated themselves to creating world-class wines, which routinely beat out competition from renowned vineyards in California and Europe to take home titles for their taste, quality and distinctiveness. The secret to success stems, in part, from the use of specially developed “cold hardy” grapes, a collection of varietals that was developed at the University of Minnesota to continue producing wine-worthy fruit even when the temperature plummets to a brisk 40 degrees below zero. Here on the border of Canada, where the hardest of hard freezes would otherwise stop winemakers in their tracks, these special hardy grapes thrive—and so does the winemaking industry.
The Thousand Islands region’s climate, rich soil, and level of moisture in the air combine to create a perfect environment for growing cold-hardy grapes, and the unique growing conditions make Thousand Islands wine different than anything you’ve tasted.
When you visit the Thousand Islands-Seaway Wine Trail, keep in mind that the wineries aren’t the only fun, cultural places to visit. Museums, galleries, and specialty shops afford the chance to browse fine art and fascinating historical exhibits, and a plethora of parks, beaches, and boat tours set the scene for some quality time in the great outdoors. There are fireworks displays, concerts, festivals, and other special events going on almost every weekend, and often the wineries themselves host popular get-togethers featuring entertainment, local arts, crafts and food vendors, and other interesting extras. Meanwhile, village streets lined with shops and eateries offer up keepsakes, collectibles and inspiration for new recipes to pair with that bottle of wine (or three) you just bought, while country roads dotted with farm stands offer options for a make-your-own picnic. And what could be better than sharing a bottle of wine with family, friends or that special someone on the banks of the St. Lawrence River? Just remember to save a few bottles to enjoy at home when memories of your trip will come pouring back!