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Where to Go Toronto

Weekend Roundup: October 31 to November 2

THESE WEEKEND EVENTS AND PERFORMANCES ARE GUARANTEED TO MAKE YOUR TIME IN TORONTO EVEN MORE MEMORABLE!

Evil Dead: The Musical opens on Halloween.

Evil Dead: The Musical opens on Halloween.

Friday, October 31

If Halloween is your favourite holiday, there’s no better time to catch clever and hilarious Evil Dead: The Musical, which opens Friday for a short run at the Randolph Theatre until November 9. While exploring an abandoned cabin in the woods, five college kids are turned into demons by an evil force. It’s up to housewares employee Ash (and his chain saw) to save the day. Tickets are $39.95 – $69.95. Visit evildeadthemusical.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

For a less raucous Halloween experience, book at Ghost Walk tour around Exhibition Place. You’ll explore the archives, horticultural building and other areas of the grounds as you learn about some of the ghostly experiences, such as a vanishing police officer and horse and whistling in hallways. The tour starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 per person, and must be booked in advance; call 416-263-3658 to register.

If you’re looking to avoid Halloween haunts, indie folk singer-songwriter Noah Gunderson will be serenading the crowd at The Horseshoe Tavern, with Owen Beverly opening. Doors open at 9 p.m. Tickets are $17.50; visit horseshoetavern.com to purchase.

Ron Bolt's Fire Beneath #3 Hawaii (2014), oil on board.

Ron Bolt’s Fire Beneath #3 Hawaii (2014), oil on board.

Saturday, November 1

Be among the first to see Ontario painter Ron Bolt’s gorgeous, detailed landscapes at the opening of “Earth, Fire, Water: Paintings of the American Southwest and Hawaii” at Loch Gallery. Visit lochgallery.com for more information.

If you’re interested in learning about other cultures, you won’t want to miss the Toronto South African Film Festival, which explores South Africa’s culture, history and politics. The festival boasts five screenings on Saturday afternoon and another four on Sunday, all at the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Jackman Hall. Tickets are $18 per screening, or $120 – $182 for a festival pass. Visit tsaff.ca for more information and to purchase tickets.

Showcasing the nine restored surviving silent films made by Alfred Hitchcock, the Toronto Silent Film Festival kicks off on Saturday with a screening of Blackmail at 7 p.m. at Royal Cinema. Hitchcock’s final silent film stars Anny Ondra as Alice White, a young woman whose relationship with an artist turns very dark. Tickets are $15, or $40 – $100 for a pass. Visit torontosilentfilmfestival.com for more details and to purchase.

Courtesy of The Toronto International Luxury Chocolate Show.

Courtesy of The Toronto International Luxury Chocolate Show.

Sunday, November 2

Indulge in decadent treats at the 4th annual Toronto International Luxury Chocolate Show on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Roy Thomson Hall. Learn how to make chocolate, meet top chocolatiers, pastry chefs and confectioners, cheer on contestants (or even sign yourself up as one) in chocolate-eating contests, watch truffle-making demos, watch as chocolate sculptures are made on-site, sample wine and chocolate pairings and more. Tickets are $15 – $25; visit torontochocolateshow.com to purchase and for more information.

Celebrate Latin American culture at Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) at the Evergreen Brick Works. Celebrated in Mexico and other parts of the world, the festival honours the loved ones who have passed. Kids will love the calavera (skull) face painting, as well as live music, dance, a churro competition and more. Visit evergreenbrickworks.com for more information.

All good things must come to an end, even the International Festival of Authors. Get your fill of all things literary on the closing day of the festival, including readings by Charlotte Gray, David Bergen, Claire Holden Rothman and more. Tickets are $18 for each event. Visit ifoa.org for more information.

Weekend Roundup: October 24 to 26

THESE WEEKEND EVENTS AND PERFORMANCES ARE GUARANTEED TO MAKE YOUR TIME IN TORONTO EVEN MORE MEMORABLE!

Art Toronto draws galleries, curators and collectors from around the globe.

Art Toronto draws galleries, curators and collectors from around the globe.

Friday, October 24

Get a good look at local and global contemporary art trends at Art Toronto, an art fair that draws curators and collectors from across the city and around the world. You’ll find paintings, sculptures and installations from emerging and established artists, as well as the “Next” showcase featuring new galleries that offer works priced at $10,000 or less. October 24 to 27, Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 255 Front St. W. Visit arttoronto.ca for more information.

Irish songstress Sinead O’Connor brings her distinctive sound to Massey Hall as she promotes her 10th album, I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss. 8 p.m. Tickets are $49.50 to $79.50; visit masseyhall.com for more information and to purchase.

Bargain hunters and fashionistas will want to check out Catwalk 2 Closet, the largest designer sample and end-of-season sale held in Toronto. Score men’s and ladies’ outerwear, apparel, footwear and accessories from 100 brands with discounts ranging from 50 to 80 per cent off. Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Direct Energy Centre, Heritage Court, 100 Princes’ Blvd. Visit catwalk2closet.com for more information.

Toronto Zombie Walk and Halloween Parade. Photo by Mike Kocza.

Toronto Zombie Walk and Halloween Parade. Photo by Mike Kocza.

Saturday, October 25

Calling all boys and ghouls! Channel your inner undead spirit this Saturday at the annual Toronto Zombie Walk and Halloween Parade, which winds through the downtown core. Even if you’re not feeling the urge to don a scary costume, the people watching is always a riot. The parade starts at 3 p.m. at Nathan Phillips Square (100 Queen St. W.); visit torontozombiewalk.ca for more details.

The chance to see a medley of musicians and proceeds going to a good cause sounds good to us. Feist, Billy Talent, Barenaked Ladies, Sarah Harmer, Hayden, Jason Collett, Lou Canon and more will take the stage at Massey Hall for the first annual Dream Serenade Benefit Concert in support of programs for children with special needs. This year, the concert will support The Beverley Street School and a family relief fund for caregivers. All ages. Tickets are $50 to $200; visit masseyhall.com to purchase.

The 35th annual International Festival of Authors is in town October 23 to November 2, and Saturday boasts a lineup packed with readings. Acclaimed Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgaard discusses his latest book with Canadian author Sheila Heti on Saturday evening. Earlier in the afternoon, a number of authors read from their latest works, including David Bezmozgis, Elyse Friedman, C.C. Humphreys, Shelly Oria, John Boyne, Matthew Thomas, Tim Winton, Ted Baris, Robert Glancy and more. Tickets for each event are $18; visit ifoa.org for further details and to purchase.

Dum Dum Girls.

The Dum Dum Girls play Lee’s Palace Sunday.

Sunday, October 26

The Dum Dum Girls bring their increasingly polished post-punk sound to Lee’s Palace, with Ex Cops and BB Guns opening. Doors 8 p.m. Tickets are $21.50; visit collectiveconcerts.com for more information and to purchase.

Craft beer fans who haven’t purchased tickets for Cask Days (now sold out) can still sample some of the offerings on Sunday at the Evergreen Brick Works. “Last Call for the Cask” will feature any leftover beers from noon to 6 p.m. or while supplies last. Admission is $5 plus $5 for a festival glass for sampling; visit caskdays.com for more information.

Score vintage fashions at the Wychwood Vintage Clothing Show, where 30-plus vendors from Ontario and Quebec will be selling a range of goods, from clothing, jewellery and accessories to old textiles, linens, fabrics and quilts. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ArtScape Wychwood Barns, 601 Christie St. Admission is $8 at the door; children 12 and under are free.

Get the Party Started: Toronto’s Nightlife Boasts Something for Everyone

THE RECIPE FOR A GREAT EVENING OUT IN TORONTO? AMAZING MUSIC, A BIG DANCE FLOOR AND A LITTLE SOCIAL LUBRICANT.
BY CRAIG MOY

The Drake Hotel. Photo by Connie Tsang.

The Drake Hotel is a hip west-end hub. Photo by Connie Tsang.

UP IN THE CLUBS

Toronto may not be Las Vegas or Miami when it comes to extravagant nightspots. But even in this relatively staid city there’s a clutch of people who know how to party—and a brace of impressive venues to host the revelry. Downtown’s nightlife nexus is generally bound by King and Queen streets, between Bathurst Street and University Avenue. Upstart Ace (425 Adelaide St. W., 416-504-1444) caters to the city’s trendy young professionals. It’s intimate, but there’s room to breathe, and for a premium you can keep it that way in a private booth. Similarly smaller scale is Media Bar, a chic nightclub-meets-social-club type of space where you can charge your iPhone while nursing your drink. On the other end of the spectrum are spaces such as Uniun—which attracts big crowds with its no-expense-spared ambience and guest appearances by top international DJs—and Exhibition Place’s Muzik nightclub, featuring such amenities as a beauty bar (with hair and makeup services for ladies) and an exclusive Grey Goose lounge.

That said, sometimes a discerning nightcrawler needs something more novel to get the blood pumping and the champagne flowing: hybrid bars-slash-nightclubs The Everleigh and Cabin Five attract attention by fostering a Canadiana-chic vibe, while Rock ’n’ Horse Saloon carries 10-gallon Stetsons, cowboy boots and bolo ties into the 21st century on the back of a mechanical bull. And then there’s Chill Ice House (page 27). True to its name, Toronto’s newest nightspot embraces our wintry weather: the lounge’s walls, furniture, bar and even its glasses are made of ice.

MIX AND MINGLE

Getting a nice, stiff drink in Toronto has never been difficult, per se, but these days it’s easier than ever. The really timeless tipples, of course, have long been kept alive at the leather-bound Roof Lounge, one of the city’s most venerated—and most comfortably traditional—hotel bars, while numerous neighbourhood establishments up the ante by using artisan ingredients in soon-to-be-classic and real-deal-timeless recipes. The Black Hoof’s Cocktail Bar (923 Dundas St. W., 416-792-7511) leads the pack in this regard, but you can’t go wrong ambling into the likes of Northwood (815 Bloor St. W., 416-846-8324), D.W. Alexander or Montauk (765 Dundas St. W., 647-352-4810), which has both Manhattans and negronis on tap. Speaking of time, bars such as SpiritHouse and Museum Tavern use it wisely to create barrel-aged cocktails—drinks that have gained smoother, mellower flavours by maturing in oak barrels for three to four weeks.

If it’s a more unusual sip that you seek, BarChef is a natural first-call: the city’s foremost envelope-pushing lounge is known for utilizing molecular techniques in its signature cocktails. Should those complex creations prove intimidating, rest assured that dialed-down, yet contemporary, drinks can be had at finer venues across Toronto. We recommend investigating the inventiveness of Momofuku Nikai and Cold Tea.

GET IN THE GROOVE

The city’s live music scene is ample and diverse. Use this handy guide to decide where you should go tonight!

Kool Haus, Phoenix Concert Theatre and Sound Academy: Toronto’s mid-size concert venues are known (though not always favourably) for their cavernous acoustics, as well as for their consistently varied bookings: one night might see British synth-pop stylists Bombay Bicycle Club, while the next could bring alternative rapper Ab-Soul to the stage.

Horseshoe Tavern and Lee’s Palace: In business for more than 60 years, the ’Shoe is a prime destination for scoping out emerging local talent—particularly those with a folk-rock or alt-country vibe—as well as bigger-name bands. Somewhat larger, Lee’s Palace attracts a range of established indie acts, including Beach House, The Wooden Sky, Cloud Nothings and Royal Canoe.

The Rex and Jazz Bistro: Toronto’s jazz scene isn’t necessarily as vital as it once was, but these downtown venues keep swinging. On top of its regular jazz and blues programming, Jazz Bistro also boasts a weekly Latin showcase and Sunday jazz brunch. Older and a bit rougher around the edges, The Rex nevertheless invigorates with a minimum of two shows every night.

The Hoxton: Each month, this urban-chic space hosts a decent number of big-beat EDM artists who know how to play to the clubby crowd.

Wrongbar: Eclectic DJs are the stars of the show at this Parkdale venue. The official schedule is sparser than at other spots, but musicians playing elsewhere in town have been known to drop by Wrongbar to spin some post-performance vinyl.

The Drake Hotel: This hip west-end arts-and-culture hub alternates between indie-rock concerts, DJ-directed dance parties, comedy shows and more.

The Tranzac: The Toronto Australia New Zealand Club (The Tranzac for short) has made a name for itself by regularly hosting a variety of hyper-local performers. The tunes tend toward the folksier end of the spectrum—with a smattering of contemporary classical and creatively improvised music—but often incorporate a somewhat experimental mien.

Celebrate Craft Beer in a Very Big Way at Cask Days

Cask Days. Photo by Connie Tsang.

Cask Days. Photo by Connie Tsang.

OCTOBER 24 TO 26 What began in 2005 as an intimate gathering of like-minded beer consumers on the back patio of Bar Volo (587 Yonge St., 416-928-0008) has now become one of North America’s largest celebrations of craft beer. Cask Days brings unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally carbonated brews to the masses, allowing breweries the chance to show off their hops. This year’s event has about 300 different cask-conditioned ales by 100-plus breweries from across Canada, the United States and the U.K., including Niagara Oast House, Nelson Brewery, Grizzly Paw, Microbrasserie Le Castor and Grand River Brewing. A special focus on California includes 30-plus breweries from the state. Not into ale? A number of ciders are available, too, as well as gluten-free beer options. Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Ave., Friday 6 to 11 p.m., Saturday 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday noon to 6 p.m., $35 and up; see caskdays.com to buy tickets. —Linda Luong

Encore! Encore! Theatre, Opera, Ballet and Music Abound in Toronto

CANADA’S COMMERCIAL CAPITAL IS ALSO A CULTURAL ONE. THIS FALL BRINGS AN ABUNDANCE OF OFFERINGS—FROM BROADWAY MUSICALS AND TONY-WINNING DRAMAS TO MELODIOUS SYMPHONIES, OPERATIC ARIAS AND CLASSICAL DANCE. BY LINDA LUONG

The Book of Mormon. Photo by Joan Marcus.

The Book of Mormon. Photo by Joan Marcus.

IN THE HOOD

The Entertainment District, home to five major performing arts venues, is where much of the singing, dancing and music-making takes place. The area’s two pillar theatres, the Royal Alexandra (260 King St. W.) and Princess of Wales (300 King St. W.), are owned by Mirvish Productions, which regularly stages audience-friendly shows. The grandiose, beaux-arts-style Royal Alex boasts an autumn playbill that includes historical drama Our Country’s Good (continuing to October 26), about the penal colony originally established in Australia, as well as Tom Stoppard’s witty Arcadia (November 4 to December 14) and The Heart of Robin Hood (December 22 to March 1). By contrast, the 2,000-seat Princess of Wales was built in the early 1990s to host mega-musical Miss Saigon. Since then it’s been home to extravaganzas like The Lion King and The Phantom of the Opera. The religious satire The Book of Mormon (continuing to November 2) returns after its sold-out 2013 run.

A block east lies Roy Thomson Hall (60 Simcoe St.), home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and host to Toronto International Film Festival galas. One of the city’s most distinctive landmarks, the concert hall is easily recognized by its curvilinear glass exterior. Within, its primary tenant—under the guidance of music director Peter Oundjian—presents innovative programming such as the contemporary-classical New Creations Festival and an annual celebration of Mozart, and has accompanied such guests as Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman. This month sees David Zinman conduct Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2 (October 2 and 4) and Prokofiev’s ballet score for Shakepeare’s Romeo & Juliet (October 22 and 23)—a powerful work. Later in the year, the harmonious efforts of the TSO and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir in a rendition of Handel’s Messiah (December 16 to 21) is a holiday tradition not to be missed, and in 2015 Chinese piano prodigy Lang Lang celebrates Chinese New Year (February 21).

Not so far away is the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (145 Queen St. W.). The country’s first purpose-built opera house opened in 2006 and is home to both the Canadian Opera Company and the National Ballet of Canada. Inspired by traditional European theatres, the five-tiered horseshoe-shaped auditorium boasts impeccable sight lines, an expansive orchestra pit plus an impressive lobby—featuring a “floating” glass staircase—that adds considerable glamour to the streetscape. Themes of love and romance dominate the COC’s 2014-15 season: Verdi’s comic Falstaff (October 3 to November 1) kicks things off, while Don Giovanni (January 24 to February 21) seduces patrons in the new year. When opera’s not on stage, dance takes the spotlight. Helmed by former prima ballerina Karen Kain, the National Ballet of Canada boasts a dynamic repertoire by 20th- and 21st-century masters ranging from Balanchine to Nureyev. James Kudelka’s rendition of family favourite The Nutcracker (December 13 to January 3)—complete with stunning sets and costumes—is a holiday classic; the whimsical Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (March 14 to 29) is a bold new work; and beloved classic The Sleeping Beauty (June 10 to 20) caps off the season.

For a night of laughs, improv comedy reigns at The Second City, which counts the likes of Gilda Radner, John Candy, Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara amongst its Toronto alumni. Performed in a cabaret-style theatre, the company’s Fall Mainstage Revue has audiences laughing with its sketches, humourous songs and zany cast.

Soulpepper Theatre Company's production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann.

Soulpepper Theatre Company’s production of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann.

DISTINCTIVELY CANADIAN

A hub for homegrown talent, Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St.) was conceived in 1970 to reflect Canadian experiences, and continues to dedicate itself to producing works by this country’s playwrights. This fall, the curtains rise on The Art of Building a Bunker (October 16 to November 2; page 28), a satire about workplace sensitivity training written by Adam Lazarus and Guillermo Verdecchia. Later, Charlotte Corbeil-Coleman and Joseph Jomo Pierre’s Twisted (February 5 to 22) updates Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, and Ronnie Burkett and his 40 eclectic marionettes return with The Daisy Theatre (March 18 to April 5).

The Young Centre for the Performing Arts (50 Tank House Ln.) anchors one end of the sprawling Distillery District. Primarily home to the artist-founded Soulpepper Theatre Company, the former industrial building features four stages as well as studio spaces. Each season, Soulpepper fulfills its mandate to present classical works within the context of our national culture, as exemplified by Spoon River (October 29 to November 15; page 29), a musical in which members of a rural town recount their lives through their own epitaphs. The following month sees the triumphant return of Kim’s Convenience (November 27 to December 28), Ins Choi’s debut play about Korean immigrants and their Canadian-born children in Toronto’s Regent Park, which just wrapped up a national tour. Simultaneously, Dickens’ quintessential holiday tale, A Christmas Carol (November 27 to December 27) is mounted.

True to its name, Canadian Stage presents modern works—sometimes written by Canucks and often national or Toronto premieres—at both the Berkeley Street Theatre (26 Berkeley St.) and Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front St. E.). Helen Lawrence (October 12 to November 1), fuses computer-generated simulation, live action film and visual art in a post‑World War II drama set in Vancouver. After a successful run last season, the sexually charged Venus in Fur (December 18 to 28) is back by popular demand, while beloved Quebec theatre artist—and CanStage fave—Robert Lepage returns with his heart-wrenching Needles and Opium (May 1 to 10).

Another local incubator, the playwright-in-residence program at Tarragon Theatre (30 Bridgman Ave.) has produced works by the likes of Morris Panych, Daniel MacIvor, Judith Thompson and Hannah Moscovitch. This season’s lineup includes The Bakelite Masterpiece (October 21 to November 30), in which an art forger is forced to recreate a painting by Dutch master Vermeer, as well as Panych’s Sextet (November 5 to December 14), which delves into secrets and desires of six stranded musicians. The new year brings both hope and fear for the hospital-bound characters of Waiting Room (January 6 to February 15).

Koerner Hall auditorium at The Royal Conservatory. Photo by Tom Arban.

Koerner Hall auditorium at The Royal Conservatory. Photo by Tom Arban.

TUNEFUL SPACES

Toronto’s top concert halls juxtapose old and new. Since breaking ground in 1893, the venerable Massey Hall (178 Victoria St.) has hosted performers spanning generations and genres: George Gershwin, Maria Callas, Oscar Peterson, Dizzy Gillespie, Bob Dylan, Gordon Lightfoot, Ronnie Hawkins, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Justin Bieber. This month sees contemporary artists grab the mic, including David Gray (October 7), Jason Mraz (October 8 and 9) and Chrissie Hynde (October 30). Then Gordon Lightfoot enjoys a four-night residency (November 26 to 29) before seasonal staples like Sing-Along Messiah (December 21) and New Year’s Eve Comedy Extravaganza (December 31) fill the room.

Koerner Hall (273 Bloor St. W.) is a much more recent vintage. Completed in 2009, the musical jewel of The Royal Conservatory is a visual and sonic stunner: a ribbon of curved oak beams creates the illusion of a canopied ceiling while helping to enhance the venue’s superb acoustics. The 1,135-seat auditorium hosts an array of jazz, pop and world musicians including Rafal Blechacz (October 19), Sir James Galway and Lady Jeanne Galway (October 25), Ana Moura (November 5), Idan Raichel and Vieux Farka Touré (November 21), Handel’s Messiah performed by the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra and Choir (December 17 to 20), and Anne Sofie von Otter and Angela Hewitt (January 9).

MORE TO SEE THIS FALL

Cirque du Soleil's Kurios--Cabinet of Curiosities. Photo by Martin Girard.

Cirque du Soleil’s Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities. Photo by Martin Girard.

Big Top Spectacle The circus is in town! Montreal’s famed Cirque du Soleil has once again pitched its signature blue and yellow tents down at the Port Lands (51 Commissioner St.). In Kurios—Cabinet of Curiosities (continuing to October 26), a kaleidoscope of characters—and the talented acrobats, jugglers, cyclists, cortortionists and other artists who portray them—transport audiences to the 19th century to meet an inventor who’s able to defy time, space and gravity. (One spectacular scene occurs at an upside down dinner party, while another features an invisible circus.) With imaginative costumes by Phillippe Guillotel and detailed sets and props by Stéphane Roy, Kurios is one of the company’s most imaginative and visually striking shows.

Jersey Boys. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

Jersey Boys. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.

More Blockbusters Also part of the Mirvish empire is the Ed Mirvish Theatre (244 Victoria St.), a former vaudeville and motion picture house across from the Toronto Eaton Centre. Carefully restored to reflect its Roaring ’20s origins, the venue’s grand staircase and ornate vaulted ceilings set a resplendent scene as patrons arrive for stagings of Wicked (continues to November 2), Jersey Boys (December 17 to January 4) and the endearing musical Once (February 10 to April 12).

Medieval Times, Toronto

Medieval Times

Loyal Subjects For dinner and a show, the live spectacle that is Medieval Times can’t be missed. Join King Don Carlos’s court and watch as knights battle to win the hand of his daughter, Princess Catalina—all while partaking in a four-course (and utensil-free) feast.

Ontario Winery Profile: Strewn Winery

From Pelee Island to Niagara to Prince Edward County, Southern Ontario’s wine-producing pockets are home to a bounty of vintners that craft high-quality Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, Icewines and much, much more. Every Wednesday throughout the summer, Where Toronto profiles an Ontario winery whose bottles are worth seeking out, and whose vineyards are definitely worthy of a day trip from the big city.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Strewn-Estate

This week’s Ontario winery:

STREWN WINERY
Established in 1997
Owner: Joe Will, president and founding winemaker. Newman Smith, chairman.
Winemaker: Dr. Marc Bradshaw

How big is your winery?
Strewn is a smaller winery with 26 acres of grapes grown from the winery’s lakeshore and inland vineyards, along with those purchased from a handful of other growers.

How many varieties of wine do you produce?
We produce nine varietals. We produce age-worthy Bordeaux-style red wines: Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our refreshing white wines include Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Blanc. We produce Vidal, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine. The portfolio also includes the more affordable TwoVines and Cottage Block brands, premium varietals and single vineyard Terroir selections, many available only at the winery.

What are your three most popular wines?
Two Vines Riesling-Gewurztraminer, Strewn Barrel Aged Chardonnay and Rogue’s Lot (a blend of Cab Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc).

Tell us about the winery’s background.
Joe Will, founding winemaker has always had a passion for wine. While he working in other fields (journalism and public relations), he kept his passion for wine alive. In 1989 he had the opportunity to further pursue the business that stirred his soul. After working in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, Joe headed to Australia’s Roseworthy College at the University of Adelaide. Upon returning home Joe signed on as the inaugural winemaker at Pillitteri Estates and five years later opened Strewn winery with industry veteran Newman Smith. The mandate of the winery is to make premium VQA wines from grapes grown in the Niagara Peninsula.

Does the winery offer tours?
We offer complimentary public tours daily at 11:30 a.m., which includes a vineyard walk (weather permitting) followed by a tasting. We also offer French-speaking tours available by appointment. Private tours are available for groups of 10 or more for minimum of $5. Customized tours available for groups. Prices vary.

Ontario Winery Profile Strewn Estate BottlesIs there a retail shop on the premises?
We have a retail boutique that stocks wine related merchandise that make lovely eccentric gifts for the winelover and foodie.

What other amenities are on site?
The Wine Country Cooking School located within Strewn is a unique culinary experience for recreational cooks. Terroir La Cachette is the restaurant at Strewn where chef Alain Levesque combines French Provençal style of cooking with the best local ingredients, bringing together the finest the region has to offer.

Tell us something people typically don’t know or understand about wine production.
Contrary to popular belief, winemaking is a pretty un-romantic occupation! It’s exhausting, intense, involving crazy hours and insane temperatures, and is totally grubby work with black stained hands for many months of the year…but, like any forms of art, people embroiled in the production of wine are some of the most absolute super-charged passionate people you will ever encounter, and they wouldn’t have their job any other way.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone wishing to have a better experience with wine?
I feel that the wine consumer often overlooks serving temperature for most wines. Often white wines are served too cold – making them less aromatic and more acidic. Typically, more complex white wine, such as barrel-fermented Chardonnay should be served slightly warmer (10-13°C). Whereas, lighter-bodied and neutral white wines benefit from more of a chill (7-10°C). The common refrigerator is set to 4-5°C, so a good rule is to remove white wines from the fridge around 15-20 minutes prior to service.

With the advent of state-of-the-art heating and insulation systems, room temperature has increased. In turn, red wines are often served slightly too warm. Serving a red wine too warm makes them seem flabby and less fresh. Lighter reds are refreshing when served between 10-13°C and medium-bodied red wines are appropriately served between 13-16°C. Serving bigger, bolder and more tannic red wines too chilled will make them more astringent and bitter, so serving slightly below room temperature at 16-18°C is recommended. Placing most red wines in the fridge 15-20 minutes prior to service will benefit the wine and the consumer. Of course, if you like your wine warmer or colder, you should not forsake what you enjoy—after all, you paid for it and you are consuming it!

• Strewn Winery, 1339 Lakeshore Rd., Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-1229
• strewnwinery.com; Facebook; Twitter @strewnwinery

 

Ontario Winery Profile: Viewpointe Estate Winery

From Pelee Island to Niagara to Prince Edward County, Southern Ontario’s wine-producing pockets are home to a bounty of vintners that craft high-quality Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, Icewines and much, much more. Every Wednesday throughout the summer, Where Toronto profiles an Ontario winery whose bottles are worth seeking out, and whose vineyards are definitely worthy of a day trip from the big city.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Viewpointe-Estate

This week’s Ontario winery:

VIEWPOINTE ESTATE WINERY
Established in 2000
Owner: John, Steve and Jean Fancsy

How big is your winery?
We are a boutique winery producing between 7,000 and 8,000 cases of wine each year.

How many varieties of wine do you produce?
More than 15.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Viewpointe-Estate-BottlesWhat are your three most popular wines?
Auxerrois, Pinot Grigio and a Cabernet blend.

Tell us about the winery’s background.
We are a family-owned and -operated winery. As the Fancsy family diverged from the automotive industry in the late 1990’s, we wanted to fulfill a vision of a destination winery in the developing Lake Erie North Shore appellation. Family ties are strong here; the family had property in the area and spent summers at a family cottage on the lake near the winery. There is a passion for wine.

Does the winery offer tours?
Yes. Tours can be booked by appointment. The cost of a tour is $7 and includes tastings of 4 wines. Tastings are complimentary for small groups, and range from $3 to $5 depending on the size of a larger group. Please phone the winery for further details regarding pricing.

Is there a retail shop on the premises?
Yes, and a tasting bar.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Viewpointe-Estate-TastingWhat other amenities are on site?
There is a fully equipped teaching kitchen—with a view no less! Viewpointe offers cooking classes throughout the year. There’s also an event space on the second floor of the “retail” building with a panoramic view of Lake Erie for weddings and many other events. We have a huge outdoor patio, where meals are served from May to October. There is a large elegant tent over part of the patio; large enough for events including wedding ceremonies. Lunches and special dinners are also scheduled on weekends and on special evenings during the winter season. The tasting bar/retail area offers seating for indoor dining as well as a panoramic view of the patio and lake. There is also an event space at cellar level, which can be utilized to host meetings, lectures and presentations. This room is connected to our barrel room, which is part of the tour agenda. Two of the winery buildings sit back from one of our vineyards. Many great photo opportunities can be had at events including the lake, sunsets, the vineyards, the barrel room and the grounds and buildings. Viewpointe also hosts and participates in seasonal events and activities

What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone wishing to have a better experience with wine?
Of course, first we would suggest a visit to the winery to drink up all of the factors to getting the most from your glass and bottle. Knowing the story, experiencing personally, and comfortably learning and deciding which wine is right for you can greatly enhance your wine experiences.

• Viewpointe Estate Winery, 151 County Rd. 50 E., Harrow, 519-738-0690
viewpointewinery.com; Facebook; Twitter @viewpointewines

You Are Here: Eat, Explore and Relax Along the Harbourfront

HTO Park

HTO Park

1  Inspired by J.S. Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, the Toronto Music Garden is a classical green space in both theme and execution: six meticulously tended “movements” are lush with trees, tall grasses and colourful perennials. The garden hosts chamber music performances on Thursdays and Sundays throughout the summer. 479 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000; harbourfrontcentre.com

2  Watch the boats (and planes) go by beneath a large yellow parasol at HTO Park. The sand-strewn site overlooking Toronto’s inner harbour lends a relaxed, beachy vibe to what was once a fairly nondescript stretch of lakeside real estate. 339 Queens Quay W.

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Ontario Winery Profile: By Chadsey’s Cairns Winery & Vineyard

From Pelee Island to Niagara to Prince Edward County, Southern Ontario’s wine-producing pockets are home to a bounty of vintners that craft high-quality Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, Icewines and much, much more. Every Wednesday throughout the summer, Where Toronto profiles an Ontario winery whose bottles are worth seeking out, and whose vineyards are definitely worthy of a day trip from the big city.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-By-Chadseys-Cairns

This week’s Ontario winery:

BY CHADSEY’S CAIRNS WINERY & VINEYARD
Established in 2002
Owner: Richard Johnston and Vida Zalnieriunas

How big is your winery?
We produce about 1,800 cases per year from just under 20 acres of grapes, expanding to 24 acres this year.

How many varieties of wine do you produce?
Eight, including the only Chenin and Muscat in the county. We also have Gamay, Pinot, and St. Laurent in the reds.

What are your three most popular wines?
It changes from year to year but in the past couple of vintages our botrytis-affected Rieslings were our biggest sellers.

Tell us about the winery’s background.
We are a family partnership. We began growing in 1999 as we re-imagined the future of the Chadsey’s farm that had been growing fruit for 200 years. I [Richard] loved the soils and told Vida on our first day here that “I think we could grow grapes here.” Little did I know how tough it would be. When we opened our doors to the public in 2003 we offered the first Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer ever produced commercially in Prince Edward County.

Does the winery offer tours?
Yes, we provide tours of our apple house vineyard to explain the winter burying and trellising techniques we use, and we give a tour of our pioneer cemetery. The price varies per group and is usually tied in to a tasting as well. We can accommodate groups as small as 4 and as large as 60.

Harvesting grapes at By Chadsey's Cairns

Harvesting grapes at By Chadsey’s Cairns Winery

Is there a retail shop on the premises?
Yes. The Apple House, built circa 1855, is our tasting room.

What other amenities are on site?
We don’t have a restaurant but do have a great picnic area and our barn that overlooks lake Ontario is pretty spectacular.

Tell us something people typically don’t know or understand about wine production.
Burying vines in PEC is not like covering the grafts in Niagara. For fine wines, we don’t have multi-year trunks but bring up new canes off the graft each year. Two of those are tied down to a wire just above the ground and they’re buried under dirt in mid-November to help them survive our more severe winters. Unburied plants would have lost 100 per cent of their buds to freezing temperatures during this past winter.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone wishing to have a better experience with wine?
The key to understand Prince Edward County wines in general is to focus in on the lovely clean acidity in each of them and to try to pick up on the impact of the calcerous limestone that underpins the whole area.

• By Chadsey’s Cairns Winery & Vineyard, 17432 Loyalist Pkwy., Hillier
• bychadseyscairns.com; Facebook

 

Ontario Winery Profile: Calamus Estate Winery

From Pelee Island to Niagara to Prince Edward County, Southern Ontario’s wine-producing pockets are home to a bounty of vintners that craft high-quality Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, Icewines and much, much more. Every Wednesday throughout the summer, Where Toronto profiles an Ontario winery whose bottles are worth seeking out, and whose vineyards are definitely worthy of a day trip from the big city.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Calamus-Estate

This week’s Ontario winery:

CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY
First vineyard planted in 2000, the second in 2002. Tasting room and retail store opened in July 2006.
Owner/Operator: Derek Saunders and Pat Latin
Winemaker: Arthur Harder

How big is your winery?
We produce 5,000 cases of wine each year

How many varieties of wine do you produce?
We grow eight grape varieties and most years bottle between 12 to 15 different wines, almost all produced from our own vineyards.

What are your three most popular wines?
The Pinot Gris, but there is a true fan following for our Barrel Kissed Chardonnay and our Meritage.

Tell us about the winery’s background.
Winemaking is a second career that grew out of a personal passion. The estate includes 10 acres of grapes on a small property near Beamsville in the Lincoln Lakeshore Appellation and 22 acres of grapes on the larger 42-acre winery site in the Vinemount Ridge Appellation. Our winery’s buildings are refurbished 1820 and 1888 era barns that showcase the local history and offer a warm relaxed space for catered functions and group tastings.

Does the winery offer tours?
We offer tours on special event weekends and by request for pre-booked private groups of six or more. Our most popular tour is the vineyard walk. The price is $15 per person and includes the tasting and a glass of wine and cheese plate at the end.

Is there a retail shop on the premises?
Yes.

What other amenities are on site?
There is a 10-foot dome on the top deck that houses a large 16″ telescope that is available for evening events. There are several picnics tables around the vineyard and patio tables on the deck where we encourage customers to bring a lunch, buy a glass of wine and relax.

Tell us something people typically don’t know or understand about wine production.
All the Calamus wines are VQA. That means everything is 100 per cent local and in the case of Calamus, 95 per cent of the grapes used for the wines are from our own vineyards. What is not from their vineyard is sourced from neighbouring farmers.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone wishing to have a better experience with wine?
The best way to enhance your wine experience is to make the time to visit wine country—it’s only and hour from downtown Toronto. Spend a little time sampling the VQA wines available and taking home some favorites. Go local.

• Calamus Estate Winery, 3100 Glen Rd., Jordan, 905-562-9303
calamuswines.com; Facebook; Twitter 

Ontario Winery Profile: Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards

From Pelee Island to Niagara to Prince Edward County, Southern Ontario’s wine-producing pockets are home to a bounty of vintners that craft high-quality Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, Icewines and much, much more. Every Wednesday throughout the summer, Where Toronto profiles an Ontario winery whose bottles are worth seeking out, and whose vineyards are definitely worthy of a day trip from the big city.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Cooper's-Hawk-Vineyards-Sign

This week’s Ontario winery:

COOPER’S HAWK VINEYARDS
Founded in 2007, opened for sales in 2011
Owner: The O’Brien Family and Debbie Meloche
Winemaker: Rori McCaw

How big is your winery?
The winery’s 67 acres yield 5,000 cases of wine annually.

How many varieties of wine do you produce?
About 14.

What are your three most popular wines?
 Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Riesling.

Tell us about the winery’s background.
We are a family-owned and -operated winery. It is a second career for us and wine is a personal passion for our family.

Does the winery offer tours?
Tours are offered by appointment only.

Cooper's Hawk's bottling facilities

Cooper’s Hawk’s bottling facilities

Is there a retail shop on the premises?
Yes.

What other amenities are on site?
We have a five-acre park and grass with picnic tables, hay rides in the fall and a new wetland tour this summer.

Tell us something people typically don’t know or understand about wine production.
 Craft wineries put intensive labour and care into Ontario wine making.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone wishing to have a better experience with wine?
Every wine is different, and enjoyable in different ways, and it’s fun to try the variety of wines.

• Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards, 1425 Iler Rd., RR 1, Harrow, 519-738-4295
coopershawkvineyards.com; Facebook; Twitter @coopershawkwine

There’s Still Time to Explore Ontario’s Parks and Outdoor Spaces This Summer

BY CRAIG MOY

Sandbanks Provincial Park (photo: Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation)

Sandbanks Provincial Park (photo: Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation)

According to the 2011 census, 81 per cent of Canadians now live in urban areas. In Ontario, that number is even higher—86 per cent. And yet a significant part of our national identity remains tied to the frontier, the wilderness. We may live in condos and work in cubicles, but our hearts still yearn for open spaces.

Fortunately, Ontario boasts bounteous natural expanses (national and provincial parks, as well as locally administered conservation areas) for exploration and recreation. Many of these sites are within reasonable distance from the Greater Toronto Area, but not so close as to be overrun with visitors.

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