by George Dyke…..

We thought that Covid-19 restrictions would hamper our annual Niagara outing this year, but in fact the opposite was true. For two of our winery visits, at Kacaba Estates and Featherstone Estates, where we would typically have encountered packed parking lots and long waits for tastings, we were able drive up to near empty locations and were welcomed with direct access to servers that were happy to bring various varieties right to our outdoor tables. And at Tawse Winery, although the tasting room was closed, the shop was open and we had unfettered access to the normally grounded grounds for a picnic lunch of gourmet cheese, fruit and fresh french bread that we brought along for all to enjoy!

We started off the day on July 18, meeting at 10 AM at St. Jude’s Anglican Church in Oakville – a terrific start location where we socialized for an hour, enjoyed fresh croissants brought along from one of Toronto’s best french bakeries, Pâtisserie La Cigogne, and thanks to Club member Simon Walker, who is the organist at St. Jude’s, we had access to washroom facilities.

We began the drive going along Lakeshore Rd through Oakville, Burlington and under the Burlington Skyway, before crossing Hamilton on Centennial Parkway, then making our way up its hill to turn off on Ridge Rd.

The weather was sunny and hot, (one could say a bit too hot, but better than rain), and we were able to seek shade at every stop except for a brief rest at point on the Niagara Escarpment where we took a group photo and gazed out over Southern Ontario’s “Golden Horseshoe” taking in views of Hamilton and the north shore of Lake Ontario including Toronto.

You can view a full photo gallery of the day here:

We managed an early afternoon bathroom break after our first winery visit to Kacaba thanks to Club member Sietse Elsinga, who lives close by and operates a large greenhouse operation in Beamsville. Then it was on to our picnic lunch on the grounds of Tawse, prior to heading over Featherstone for a flight of wines and an education from the owner, in the samples we were tasting.

After our Featherstone stop we drove on the charming twisty roads we have come to know on previous outings near the town of Effingham. From there we made our way over to the Welland Canal and drove the parkway crossing at the Glendale Bridge to make our way toward Niagara-on-the-Lake and a BBQ dinner prepared for us by Robert Laughton. Robert is Jaguar collector (and the distributor for Leatherique conditioning products that many Club members use in the DS and SMs) who happens to be fascinated by French cars. Robert was very pleased to see Citroëns populate the lawn of his lakeside estate.

With a selection of salads, sausages, grilled chicken, beverages of all sorts of beverages (the beer was a most welcome surprise) we enjoyed a grand meal that was topped of by a “build-your-own” desert spread that included, chocolate eclairs, ice cream, fresh cherries and blueberries, with whipped cream and various topping choices. Needless to say — no one went home hungry!

While we thanked Robert and said our goodbyes, some made a bee-line home along the QEW while others took a more leisurely way home on secondary roads with some returning to Toronto taking Lakeshore Rd all the way back to the city’s core.

All in all, it was a fabulous day and one of best outings we have ever had!