Thursday, 13 November 2014

Touring Niagara with iYellow Wine Club

It's no secret that I do champagne taste on a beer budget. But one of the things I learned through the iYellow Wine Club is that great booze is a matter of personal taste and fantastic wine does not need to necessarily come at a premium.

I wrote a little while ago about my experience with iYellow and their #winemakerraw event with Flat Roof Manor. As someone who feels embarrassed after spending more than 10 minutes in the wine aisle the club is my help-line. But after having been invited to travel with them to Niagara I realize that they are much more than that. Not to be dramatic but the iYellow Wine Club is a revolution in wine culture.

iYellow is about making wine education accessible to a new generation. Founder Angela Aiello's aim is to build the club members' confidence, but also to educate the wine industry about the dangers of turning young and emerging vinophiles into vinophobics. With the success of iYellow she hopes to have a positive effect on wineries' approach to newbies like me. After travelling with her and her team I can already tell that her influence is helping turn over a new leaf for wine culture.

Wine with iYellow is social and fun. The iYellow Wine Club is a place where you can taste wines from all over the world, learn about the wines you love and meet other wine lovers! The wine club plans regular events, tours and wine school classes for you to attend a la carte and you can also learn on your own via their website You learn to better identify your tastes, how to pair what with what and make friends along the way.

One blistery Saturday morning at the end of October we embarked on our tour. We visited three vineyards in total, and had a wee pop into Upper Canada Cheese on our way back to Toronto.

Flat Rock Cellars was our first stop, a beautiful vineyard founded in 1999. Winemaker Ed Madronich believes in progressive viticulture practices. Flat Rock is a gravity flow winery, a technique which allows for the wine to stream from winery levels whereas traditional one-level cellars use pumps or mechanical force. This allows the wine to gently extract color, flavor and tannin.

Winemaker Ed Madronich

Next we stopped for lunch at Inniskillin, the grandfather of all Niagara vineyards.

Inniskillin is perhaps best known for their icewine, the very first made from Niagara grapes. Not to brag but Canadian icewine is world renowned. My favourite was the Cab Franc, which is really no surprise as that's my favourite grape period. Lunch was served in the cellar among the vintages along a dark and dimly lit harvest table. It was gezellig, to use the Dutch word.

The last vineyard we visited was Southbrook, an impressive modern winery with a long imposing wall hiding the rows and rows of vines. The mentality at Southbrook is very holistic - their practices should benefit the land. I mean, they have sheep who roam the vineyard for goodness sakes. This holistic view is what makes their vineyard so charming, and their wines so unique. And to be quite honest I was surprised, but so very pleased that their sommelier was barely in his late 20s.

Niagara is changing. It's a destination for 20-somethings, and touring with iYellow has its perks - they can show you the ins and outs you wouldn't be able to even peek at on your own. They host these tours frequently, and the cost of tickets is always reasonably priced (especially when you factor in that a glass of delicious Inniskillin icewine can cost you $45). Check out their website and get on their mailing list! I'll meet you at the Cave.


  1. That's awesome. My friend and I were just talking about going to Niagara. I visited the iyellow wine club last week and really enjoyed it, I would definitely go with them to Niagara.

    1. Niagara is always worth it (even in the winter!). iYellow is having another tour at the end of January to taste some delicious iceiwne. I'll look for you at the wine cave!