Wine Country Blog
Meet the Chef
Chef Ross Midgley, The Oaklands at Riverbend Inn & Vineyard
- Why did you become a chef?
I have always loved entertaining people and learning about where they come from. Food is the one true cornerstone of all humanity; nothing we do is absent from food in some way. I guess, ultimately, being a chef is the greatest way to truly communicate with people. I love that!
- What is your favourite cuisine to cook? To eat?
I love all food, but my training in the kitchen is classical French, so that is the cuisine which speaks most to my heart. Of course, respecting place and supporting local artisans is a huge part of that as well – something that is so vibrantly alive in Niagara. And, finally, having grown up on Prince Edward Island, I love all foods from the sea.
- What is your favourite wine to drink? To cook with?
I love wine and have rarely met a wine that I couldn’t like! I am partial to reds – especially big reds, but I love to start a meal with a bright Sauvignon Blanc. I’d then segue through Gamay, Pinot Noir and then hit on a beefy single varietal, like Cab Franc which Niagara does so well, or a balanced blend.
- What do you do to stay current on trends in the industry?
Like all of us, I do my fair share of looking around on social media. But really, I have been at this long enough to have made great friends with Chefs all over. These peers of mine are my inspiration and keep my ‘on my game’. Food is all about people and sharing.
Winter in Niagara Wine Country
Embrace the Canadian winter chill in Niagara Wine Country! Join us at the estates for holiday shopping and gifting services, cozy up by the fireplace during a romantic escape at Riverbend Inn, or enjoy the Icewine festival in both downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake and Jordan. There’s always something going on in Wine Country.
Visit myWineCountry.com or call our Wine Country Concierge at 1-888-510-5537 to plan your escape today.
The Rink at Wayne Gretzky Estates
Whether you’re a pro (like Wayne Gretzky), or lacing up for the first time in many years, visit the backyard rink at Wayne Gretzky Estates from mid-December to March. You can sip on a craft cocktail, chilled brew, glass of wine or spiked hot chocolate, and savour the winter food menu at The Whisky Bar Patio. The patio is heated to keep you comfortable during your meal. You’ll won’t want to miss Chef Desharnais’ two new winter menu items: a delicious shaved beef panini and ‘snowshoes’ (a crispy fried pastry with chocolate and cinnamon sugar).
Visit myWineCountry.com to learn more about our Community Skate Days, Date Night package, and DJ Nights on Saturdays.
Feature Rink Cocktail – The Rusty Skate
1.5 oz No.99 Red Cask Whisky
1 oz Wayne Gretzky Estates Old Fashioned simple syrup
1 oz Wayne Gretzky Estates Cherry Hibiscus simple syrup
¾ oz lemon juice
Niagara Icewine Festival
This month-long celebration in January offers a variety of different experiences for wine and food lovers. Purchase a discovery pass online at niagarawinefestival.com and enjoy several wine and food pairings along the wine route in both Niagara-on-the-Lake and Twenty Valley. You can also stroll through downtown Jordan Village and old town Niagara-on-the-Lake on the weekends to enjoy entertainment, wine, and food, attend the annual Icewine Gala at the Fallsview Casino, or an Icewine dinner at Peller Estates and Trius Winery.
Snowshoeing at Thirty Bench
If there’s snow on the ground on Saturday and Sunday, head to Thirty Bench in Beamsville for a snowshoe trek through the vineyard. You’ll be outfitted with equipment and coached on snowshoeing tips and tricks by an expert guide as you make your way through the snow-covered vineyard. You’ll also be treated to an outdoor tasting of Thirty Bench wines and a warm fireside snack to wrap up the experience. If Mother Nature doesn’t bring us enough snow, we’ll enjoy a winter hike in the vineyard.
This is an incredibly popular experience and reservations are required. Book online at myWineCountry.com.
Winter Lounge at Peller Estates
Join us at Peller Estates on weekends from November to March for a Winter Lounge experience. This experience includes a seat for up to 5 guests around one of our firepits. Enjoy a glass of wine or our signature hot beverage in a souvenir glass/mug and Icewine marshmallow handmade by Chef Jason Parsons.
Romantic Retreat at Riverbend Inn
Stay with us at The Riverbend Inn & Vineyard this winter. Enjoy an intimate escape in one of our 21 uniquely designed guestrooms and suites, with surroundings of grandeur, magnificent amenities and service. Warm yourself in front of the fireplace and enjoy the scenic beauty from your window. Enjoy a delicious meal at The Oaklands restaurant prepared by Chef Ross Midgley and his culinary team. The Inn offers guests a complimentary tasting at neighbouring winery, Peller Estates, snowshoes for winter walks through the vineyards, and cozy outdoor firepits with wonderful vineyard views.
*Winter experiences are subject to change. Reservations are highly recommended. Visit myWineCountry.com or call our Wine Country Concierge at 1-888-510-5537 for more information.
Discover Niagara’s Top Patios
Our four Niagara estates feature a handful of incredible patios that serve up everything from pizza to lobster linguine. It’s time to kick back and relax with a glass of wine, cocktail or beer in hand and enjoy the vineyard views. With so many amazing patio options at our partner wineries, the hardest part of planning an afternoon escape can be deciding where to soak in the views. This helpful roundup makes it easier than ever to choose the right patio for your next Niagara escape. And don’t forget, an afternoon of hopping from one patio to the next is always encouraged! Peller Estates is a quick bike ride from Riverbend Inn and there’s a walking trail between Trius and Wayne Gretzky Estates to make scenic strolling a breeze!
The Vibe: Happy hour doesn’t get more Canadian than this expansive patio that offers the perfect perch for taking in everything that’s going on at The Great One’s estate.
Insider Tip: Pair one of our beverages with Chef Desharnais’ casual comfort foods that proudly showcase the region’s farm-to-table flavours.
The Winery Restaurant Patio at Peller Estates
The Vibe: Fresh air on your face, Chef Parsons’ freshly picked garden veggies turned into magical dishes on your plate, a meal on this patio is pure farm-to-table elegance.
Insider Tip: If you’re a Wine Club member, don’t forget to show your membership card for a complimentary glass of sparkling wine. That’s just one of the many perks you can enjoy at our estates!
The Vibe: Enjoy Chef Dodd’s delicious all-day menu served sunny side up at an outdoor table with a vineyard view.
Insider Tip: Turn up the mystery factor of Trius’ five-course tasting menu by opting for the Black Glass Experience. This fun take on a blind tasting will have you and your dining companions swirling, sniffing and sipping to guess the wines served with each course.
The Vibe: Outdoor pool tables, ping pong tables and bocce ball courts make this the ultimate escape for patio dwellers who are game for games.
Insider Tip: Don’t be fooled by the name. In addition to frosty pints of suds, the Beer Garden also serves up icy No Boats on Sunday cider and Wayne Gretzky Estates wines.
The Vibe: Take in the scenic vineyard views and enjoy a relaxed backyard feel complete with picnic tables and fresh off the grill fare.
Insider Tip: Head here for Friday Live @ 5 to launch your weekend on the right note with live music and food specials.
The Vibe: Enjoy dining al fresco while being mesmerized by the vineyard views and beautiful sunsets.
Insider Tip: Guests staying at the Inn are welcome to join us in the lounge on Friday evenings for the Manager’s Reception, where you’ll enjoy delicious wine and canapes while chatting with our Riverbend Managers.
The Vibe: While not a patio, per se, the rolling lawn at Thirty Bench is an ideal place to relax at a picnic table with a glass of wine in hand and soak in the spectacular Lake Ontario view.
Insider Tip: Pick up a charcuterie box from inside the winery for a tasty selection of snacks to enjoy with your wine.
Our Wine Country Concierge is here to help!
Our dedicated team of wine lovers is available 7 days a week to help you plan your perfect visit to Wine Country. You can reach them by phone or email to ask questions or to make reservations for wine tastings, winery tours or dining.