Smithavens Brewing Company crafting attention getting beers

Smithavens Brewing of Peterborough is doing a great job getting their award-winning ales and lagers into The Beer Store, grocery stores and LCBO. I’m happy they’re getting easy to find because these are such great beers. You can’t beat small batch naturally brewed Ontario craft beer. These beers taste fresh and natural. Generally craft beers have just 4 ingredients. And they have personality. Smithavens’ beers are exceptionally so.




Smithavens understands the craft difference and they do their best to brew the finest beers possible. Every batch.

Whether it’s an Amber Lager, Dunkelweizen, 7% Blonde, Schwarzbier, Crabby Abby Ale, Hefeweizen, Belgian Pale Ale (Nottabottle), or Kellerbier Pale Lager, these brews rock with quality, flavour and drinkability. The latter two (bold italics) are easy to find in a growing number of LCBO stores.

Nottabottle Belgian pale ale has standout quality with easy-to-enjoy fruity flavours and is not too bitter. I adore this beer! Kellerbier comes in a bottle and with its bottle conditioning, comes across as fresh as if you drew it from a keg.


Check with your local store to see if they carry Smithavens. If not, ask them to order it in for you. That’s what good service is all about.

The brewery is located in Peterborough. Sample at the tasting bar, sit and have a beer in the bar, take a tour. A nice place to visit!

Call the brewery for a growing list
of grocery stores
that carry their beers

Smithavens at LCBO: Product Search

Smithavens on the web
Smithavens on Twitter










Fraticelli’s Richmond Hill, authentic Italian grill. Great experience in food, service and wines!

PHOTOS: 1. Wine Cellar, 2, 3. Dining area, 4. Kitchen, 5. Exterior, 6. Patio, 7. Piano lounge, 8. Grilled Calamari, 9 – 11. Our pizzas and pasta.

Updated September 25, 2017

Fraticelli’s is housed in an attractive building in Richmond Hill, near Buttonville airport. You can dine inside or enjoy the inviting patio in season. This visit we eye the little lounge by the grand piano. It’s tucked in the expansive bar area, replete with all the comforts and flat HD TVs. We look at the dinner menu for future reference. Very nice. But this is mid day, so we order from the lunch menu. Not an item here that each of us won’t want to try in future visits…

From the grilled calamari to the pizzas, to the authentic pasta, they are all delicious, fresh and authentic. Home-cooked meets cutting-edge. The service is also excellent. Our server loves it here and it clearly shows.

We enjoy several local Ontario wines (OK, it is now late afternoon). Excellent. There’s rumour that they are considering expanding their selection of local wines and beers. Some exclusive. Sounds great.


This is a class act. We feel good being here. It’s kind of fancy and comfortable at the same time. It truly reflects Italian fare and flair.  The prices are reasonable. We’re not easy to please, but Fratacelli’s does it with ease.

Check out the Burlington location as well,

Fraticelli’s is part of Tortoise Restaurant Group, whose well-known establishments include Turtle Jack’s and The Coop.

by The Wine Baron

 Fraticelli’s Italian Grill & Lounge

10 Vogell Road,

Richmond Hill, ON

L4B 3K4

Twitter: @fraticellis



Barnstormer Flight Delay west coast style IPA

tumblr_o3wgh1lsot1tfwglto1_1280Having a Flight Delay IPA Craft Beer from @barnstormerbeer while I cook dinner.

This robust west-coast style IPA is unfiltered and made with 4 types of specialty hops. Grapefruit, rich flavour and floral notes round out this fun ale. From the famous brewpub in Barrie, Ontario, the label design and Air-Craft concept of this enthusiasts’ beer push the envelope of cool. Available in LCBO and select Beer Stores and grocery chains.

by The Wine Baron

PondView Harvest Party 2017. Great turnout, great wine, great music!

Happy Crowd at PondView

The Baroness and I had the good fortune to attend the PondView Harvest party this past weekend. Best fun we’ve had in Niagara all year. PondView is a happening winery that is creating some good buzz. They’re producing fine wines and have a good sense of marketing to fuel their growth.

The weekend harvest party was super fun and attended by several hundred people, all with smiles on their faces. This is what a winery event should be all about, and it delivered. We started with samplers of a few of our regular favourites (Riesling and the new Sauvignon Blanc), and soon added a meat and cheese plate to our enjoyment. I went back to the tasting bar and asked what they had in a big red. They poured a glass of 2013 Bella Terra Unfiltered Meritage. Outstanding. The music was by Sandy Vine & the Midnights. They deliver all the top hits you know, can sing along with, and dance to. And we did.

We highly recommend you seek out PondView wines at LCBO or by visiting the winery. And please do mark September 2018 on your calendars for the next Harvest Party.  Check out the video below (2 min, 17 sec)

PondView Winery Harvest Party 2017 from Wine Baron on Vimeo.


Cheers! … TWB


Visit to Viewpointe Estate Winery

Excellence in winemaking


This family-owned estate is one of Southwestern Ontario’s reference point wineries. Situated in EPIC (Essex Pelee Island Coast) near Windsor Ontario, the region also carries the VQA designation: Lake Erie North Shore. A visit to Viewpointe is not to be missed. John, Steve, and Jean Fancsy all have the passion for wine that drives them to try to produce the finest bottle of wine possible. They strive every vintage to get closer to that mark of wine perfection.

John Fancsy, a 2009 recipient of the Ontario Premier’s Award For Agri-Food Innovation Excellence, keeps a careful eye on every step of the winemaking process, from the vineyard to harvest to vinification, ageing and bottling. The results show – it’s not easy to find a product here that is not an excellent bottle of wine.


There are two main ways to experience Viewpointe. The first way is to enjoy a bottle from your local LCBO store or neighbourhood restaurant, and the second way is to visit. Let’s start with the first approach and then move on to the second …

The Wines

Following are my favourite whites and reds. Each is from estate grown grapes and 100% VQA. They have all scored high by The Wine Baron’s tasting panel and have received the most compliments at wine events we’ve hosted.


Pinot Grigio 2016

  Availability: Only from the winery. This is the Pinot Grigio for the palate that wants more, and normally has to go for a Pinot Gris to get it. This one satisfies with orchard fruit characters of pear and apricot as well as a hint of melon and citrus with balanced acidity. Supple, with great mouthfeel.

Big Bluff White 2016 – $13.25

Availability: limited to select LCBO stores LCBO (# 404061), or from the winery.  An exquisite blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, and Auxerrois. The perfect fun white wine. The four blended varietals make for a nicely rounded, fruity, happy wine. Easy to pair with a wide variety of foods. 90 points (Gordon Stimmell, Toronto Star)
Note: you can also order this wine from LCBO’s Online Store by clicking on the ADD TO CART button at the LCBO link above.

Auxerrois 2016

Availability: from the winery or ask for it in your favourite restaurant. A new discovery in varietals. A cult-wine at the winery’s boutique and tasting room. The best food-pairing wine I’ve ever encountered. A terrific sipper on its own as well.  VINTAGES panel said of it: “Aromas of nectarines, yellow apple and plum, with a gently floral note. Gently kissed by sweetness, this is ripe and quite attractive in the mouth. The palate is flavour-packed, far more so than the nose. A delightful wine, from a largely unknown grape. This will impress with a paprika spiced chicken, or pad Thai.

Cabernet Merlot 2013 – $13.25

Availability: LCBO (# 220723), or from the winery. Barrel-aged entry level red that is hardly “entry” when you taste it. Perfect house-wine both for home or your favourite restaurant. It will raise the bar on what you can get. It boasts maturity and structure. Medium-bodied with spiced dried fruit and a touch of caramel/vanilla. Note: you can also order this wine from LCBO’s Online Store by clicking on the ADD TO CART button at the LCBO link above.

Cabernet Franc 2010 (burgundy label) – $17.10

Availability: from the winery. A prime example of a big oak aged red wine. David Lawrason of rated it 90 points (not easy to get from this reviewer). “Aged for two years in oak before bottling… complex and vital, with wood smoke, spice, raspberry and red currants.”

Cabernet Merlot Balance Pointe – $24.95

Availability: in a small number of LCBO stores LCBO ( Vintages #451088), but essentially only from the winery or in discerning restaurants. In the opinion of many Ontario winemakers themselves (essentially the competition) this wine is at the pinnacle of Ontario red wines. It rivals a mid level Bordeaux. “Ripe, rich and rounded with impressive fruit, and showing some exciting evolution on the palate.” (VINTAGES panel, Aug. 2015).

Tip on how to Increase Availability of your Favourite Wines: go ahead and ask your favourite restaurant to carry any of these wines. Another avenue through which to enjoy your favourite wines.

A Visit to the Winery

The winery is one of the most beautiful in Ontario. An enticing venue well worth the visit. Consider making a weekend of it by visiting Viewpointe and one or two other EPIC wineries and staying in a local B&B. It’s another world in Essex County. A relaxing change of pace. Be sure to have lunch on the Viewpointe patio (in season), book a wedding, or sample a flight of the latest wines at the tasting bar.

151 County Road. 50 E., Harrow, ON N0R 1G0 [links to Google maps]
Viewpointe Phone: 1-866-372-VIEW

Screen Shot 2017-09-08 at 1.29.12 PM
Enlarge the EPIC Wine Route Map above (opens new tab)
Viewpointe is directly on the lake just below Harrow, # 16 on the map.



Viewpointe Estate Winery
Viewpointe on Twitter
EPIC (Essex Pelee Island Coast)
Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island

by The Wine Baron, September 7, 2017
Follow me on Twitter @thewinebaron




Rabl Grüner Veltliner always a winner every time I have it. This Austrian varietal a best-kept-secret among white wines!

tumblr_nwr0moLMpN1tfwglto1_1280Rabl Grüner Veltliner Spiegel from Kamptal.

Fresh, crisp, and luscious. Great mouth-feel.

Astounding bouquet. I highly recommend any good Austrian Grüner Veltliner. And this is one of the best in the affordable to mid-price range.

These truly fun Austrian whites come in a Riesling style bottle and are a real treat. Especially this one!

Rabl’s vineyard management mission is that only the best grapes make high quality wines. They use meticulous foliage treatment to ensure this.

Tasting Notes

Luscious and crisply fresh bouquet with notes of citrus, tree fruit and mineral, unfolding into a balanced and elegant finish.

Fourways Restaurant, Bermuda

Fancy dining with top notch wines.

The baroness and I are dining at Fourways in Paget. History is in the walls. The original building dates back to 1727.

Executive Chef, Tommy Poh is considered to be one of the very best in Bermuda. And the wine list is the best in Bermuda, especially if you measure by the selection of high end wines. The representation of vintage Bordeaux, Italian, and California are exceptional. We opted for a half bottle chablis to go with grilled salmon for her and a seafood trio (scampi, scallops, crab cakes) for myself. Live piano serenaded us in the background. The next table was having a birthday celebration and two of them had the classic Chateaubriand. It looked very nice from my vantage point. We finished with their specialty soufflé. Perfect.

This restaurant does it all the traditional way, with quality in every aspect of the experience, from food to wine to attentive service. Next visit, I’d like to go back for their well known Sunday brunch!



Tempest Bistro, St. George, Bermuda wows us with a top notch wine list & superb dining. Recommended!

The baroness and I are starting our Bermuda visit in St. George’s. There are a number of dining experiences we want to try. Tempest on Water Street is at the top of our list.

The venue has nice exposed brick inside. The overall visual impression is bright and cheerful. It’s right on the water, so the view out the windows is a bonus too. The hostess, servers, and proprietor Mark are all friendly and helpful. They are on to some cutting edge styles and techniques to their creative cuisine here. And the wine list has only the best wines from an affordable range. It’s a fun, upbeat wine list. She starts with Aix Rosé, Coteaux d’Aix En Provence and I go for the Duckhorn Decoy, Sauvignon Blanc. Both are stunners. 

Duckhorn pairs beautifully with the tiger shrimp and scallops;  the rosé goes nicely with the Rockfish. Both come with very tasty vegetables and mashed potatoes. Really tasty! This restaurant could be in Paris, the food is so good! Both wines are truly memorable. 

Wonderful location directly on St. George’s Harbour in this beautiful UNESCO world heritage site. Update: Now that our visit to Bermuda is nearly over, I can compare with the rest. This turned out to be one of the best of our Bermuda visit. We loved this experience! 

Highlights! Want to enjoy my blog to the utmost? Check out these top posts. From a wine introduction to wine regions to dining experiences.

Top Posts by The Wine Barontumblr_nsf2kbZxJ01tfwglto2_1280af5bc6c5da94b8acd7bb141002bfccb9_view78b8e96a3451ecf4fd1529b653416861

Wine Introduction (Wine 101)A short read, starting with “Step 1”

Visiting the Rhone Valley wine region of France – Got to go there at least once in a lifetime!

Visiting Masterworks in BermudaSome of the world’s greatest art, in Bermuda no less!

Wine Pairings at The BriarsGreat cheat sheet for your own fine wine and dining.

Finest restaurant we discovered in ParisHeavenly dining experience, and the wine!

   In addition to the links above, be sure to use “Search This Site” or “Blog Categories” for more great content. They are upper right on a desktop browser, or at the bottom if you use a smartphone browser.


Dark ‘n Stormy recipe – one of Bermuda’s most popular drinks

Here’s how to make a proper Dark ‘n Stormy

  • Pour 6 oz ginger beer (either Barritts or Gosling’s brand) into a tall glass filled with ice
  • Float 2 oz of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum on top. Stir until it looks like a storm cloud.

Optional garnish: lime wedge. 

There’s a magical quality to every Bermuda visit. This is one fine way to duplicate one of the sweetest Bermudian things you can enjoy, even if you’re back on the mainland. It works! I do it all the time.

The Dark ‘n Stormy is trademarked by Gosling’s, so be sure to use real Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, a truly fine rum.

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