1. Violent Death and Romantic Proposals:In the idylic Queen's Royal Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake, there's a gazebo that has become a popular place to get married. You can even arrange to have a local restaurant set up dinner there at sunset for a memorable wedding proposal. But the gazebo holds a creepy secret.
This structure was built by the crew of Stephen King's movie, The Dead Zone, which was largely shot in the NOTL area. The gazebo was the scene of a brutal (though fictional) murder. The gazebo was given to the town after filming as a present.
Bet most of the amourous couples never heard of that.
2. A Wine Tasting in the Kitchen:Daniel Lenko Estate Winery in Beamsville doesn't look like the slick and architect-designed wineries you have come to expect in Niagara. His is a working farm. There will, in all likelihood, be a tractor in the driveway and Blackie the dog will be your first greeter. The tasting room is the kitchen of the old farmhouse, but don't be fooled by the lack of formality. The wines are first class. His 2008 White Cabernet is a totally delicious summer wine, - "strawberry, red currant and pear combine with hints of confectioner’s sugar to unveil a fresh and lively nose. Cassis and raspberry bring together good acidity with a wonderfully balanced palate." This is my favourite wine for a casual lunch by the pool, maybe paired with summer salad, grilled chicken and a peach tart. Lenko will probably be around, and if he is in a good mood and is convinced you are serious about your wine-tasting, he'll tell you everything you want to know about his 'methode'. He has also produced the world's first gay wine - Chardonngay a "quality Unoaked Chardonnay vinified in celebration of Canada's diverse Gay culture." $1.00 from every bottle sold is donated to AIDS research.
(Photo courtesy of Daniel Lenko Estates)
3. Sleep in the Oldest Loyalist Home in Ontario:The Historic Secord House is quite possibly the oldest house in Ontario, and it is a beautiful example of the massive stone homes the Loyalists built. This one was built in 1782 by Laura Secord's Uncle Peter and is situated in the historic hamlet of St. Davids, near to Niagara-on-the-Lake. There are two spacious rooms, both under the eaves, and both cosy, immaculately clean and decorated in an attractive country style. The main sitting room has the original fireplace, heartpine floors, windows, trim and the first french doors built in Upper Canada. You'll be sleeping with history here.
(Photo courtesy of Historic Secord House)
4. Share a Glass of Wine with Chantal Kreviazuk and her husband Raine Maida:So, you will actually be sitting in the audience, - they won't be sitting at the bar with you - but you will be able to listen to artists like Chantal and Raine, (Aug 8 & 9) drink a glass of wine and enjoy hearing great music in the surroundings of a famous vineyard in Niagara. The Twilight in the Vineyard series that runs each summer at the Jackson-Triggs Winery presents great performers in the fine outdoors. There is wine and nibbles, and you can arrange to have a cellar dinner beforehand.
(Photo courtesy of P Keigan)
5. Shhh! A Secret Restaurant:There are no signs, no walk-ins. This hidden restaurant is actually a culinary studio run by acclaimed chef Mark Picone, the man who was responsible for the fabulous fare at Vineland Estates and who now teaches at Niagara College and runs the restaurant of his dreams. He does dinners only on reservation, and they all happen at the large table in his kitchen. Guests can watch him cook and are sometimes invited to help. He imparts wisdom about food, cooking and whatever else you want to know about, while he prepares dishes that are spectacularly special - made froom local ingredients, often from his own garden. This is unique dining, a celebration of local food by one of its best practitioners, in the close proximity of his kitchen. Truly memorable. A secret to be shared.
(Photo courtesy of Mark Picone)