The energetic atmosphere and excitement of Clifton Hill is thrilling, but the charm and pace of Niagara’s small towns offer visitors an opportunity to discover a different side of the region’s local culture. Nestled at the base of the Niagara Escarpment only a short drive from the historic Old Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, the charming town of St David’s sits on the hill side – surrounded by million-dollar estate homes, rolling vineyards and picture perfect views of the Niagara River. And though this town is worth visiting for the picturesque drive alone, what can be found tucked away in the town’s quiet streets is equally worth the trip: unique boutiques, chocolate shops, farm to table restaurants and award-winning wineries simply waiting to be discovered. Ravine Vineyard | 1366 York Road What could be sweeter than a day spent in the vineyard? Nestled in the warm corridor of St. David’s Bench where history and family values meet is Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery. This fifth generation family farm is home to a 100 per cent certified organic vineyard and winery, year-round award-winning restaurant, canning house, event facility, garden and grocery shop and outdoor family fun activities.This winery offers it all: sip and sample award-winning red, white, rosé, and sparkling wines at the modern tasting bar, enjoy a crisp hard cider on tap at the outdoor patio as the kids kick a soccer ball in the field, sample local cheeses in the shop or enjoy farm to table food in the restaurant. Realistically, you could spend all day here. Eat local is not a seasonal term at Ravine. Their commitment to freshness means their menu is constantly changing in the spirit of dining on the farm; with all dishes consisting of local ingredients and produce cultivated and harvested right on premise (think locally cured charcuterie boards, wood oven pizzas, daily soups accompanied by zucchini muffins and mouthwatering entrées). “We like to say it’s always sunny in St. David’s, because that’s the feeling we strive for on our 150-year-old family farm” says Paul Harber, proprietor of Ravine Vineyard. “From dining in our award-winning restaurant to tasting our portfolio of biodynamic wines and attending community events like our Canada Day celebrations, we consider our guests to be a truly important part of our legacy.”
Old Firehall Restaurant | 268 Four Mile Creek Road Surrounded by bright-coloured umbrellas, picnic tables and greenery, The Old Firehall Restaurant is nestled at the heart ofthis small town. This Niagara favourite is the perfect stop for a beer outside, shared appetizer or heaping plate of pasta no matter what time of the day. Venturing inside, you are transported right back into the vineyard. Dangling wine bottles, winding grape vines and rustic stained glass windows cast a green shimmer on the entire restaurant, lending the feel that you are still outside under the sun. The eclectic menu caters to all cravings: from flaming Greek Saganaki to Mediterranean seafood dishes, Ontario fish and chips to Beef Tenderloin, there is an item to content any starving traveler.
Chocolate FX | 335 Four Mile Creek Road Chocolate FX is Niagara’s premier destination for all things chocolate. With over 85 chocolate products prepared at Chocolate FX, they stand true to their motto that, “If you can’t dip it in chocolate it’s not worth eating!” All chocolates are made with pride from hand utilizing premium chocolate and old-age artisan chocolate panning and molding techniques to create each individual treat. Free tours are offered daily and a large retail store is available so travelers can purchase treats right on premise. Tourists and locals alike are welcome to take a seat at the tasting bar and sample original recipes and discover a new world of chocolate sensations. They also have a viewing area where you can get up close and personal with the chocolate production happening right on premise.
Bloom and Co. | 247 Four Mile Creek Road We Sell Nice Things. This tagline could not be more accurate for the lifestyle boutique Bloom and Co. Inspired by travel, slow living and purposeful indulgence, this store is a Pinterest-planners dream. Every nook and cranny is filled with an effortless collection of stoneware dish sets, organic peony scented soaps, locally made jewellery and home décor trinkets – each carefully curated and emitting a laid-back nod to sophisticated style. And don’t forget the spattering of hilarious greeting cards, seasonal décor and so many potted succulents tucked in between that you could be in a secret garden – all goodies that you would never find in an ordinary shop. And that is because, simply put, this shop isn’t ordinary. Owners Nataschia Wielink & Kalin Falconer explained that St. David’s was the perfect home for their businesses because the town is “distanced from the hustle and bustle of old town”. “We decided to open Bloom & Co in the little village of St. David’s after seeing this century old building being renovated the summer of 2017,” said Wielink and Falconer. “(This building) suited our store perfectly and being distanced from the hustle and bustle of old town afforded us the opportunity for a larger space where we could maintain our other businesses as well (Falconer is a wedding florist and Wielink is a photographer). The business as well hosts a number of workshops throughout the year.
Queenston Pottery Studio | 1648 York Road RR 1 The quaint gallery of Queenston Pottery is tucked away on the escarpment, showcasing unique ceramics and pottery items for purchase. Almost everything found on the property (including the house, studio, gardens and manufacturing facility) was made by hand by owners and husband and wife duo Eva and Frank Mlcak, making the studio a marvel to visit for viewing their awe-inspiring work alone. Queenston Pottery has a full line of dinnerware, including serving platters, mugs and plates, as well as wine coolers, decanters and fruit bowls. Each piece has a unique hand painted design and glaze that guarantees you have purchased a one-of-a-kind item. Though their pieces are timeless, the Mlcak’s are constantly refining and evolving their products to remain current with popular fashions, colours and trends. For the art collector, the studio sells an assortment of wall tiles, art pieces with intricate designs and motifs and collectors’ items – including their Chinese inspired, copper red glaze technique which annually draws crowds to their studio. Queenston Pottery is open daily from 11-5 p.m. TM