Painfully Answered Questions
Q. Why hike? We just want to drive to wineries and get tipsy.
A. The hike adds cake to the icing.
Q. Big deal. We're average people who just want to get drunk. Why is River & Wine so special?
A. River & Wine is special because it makes you joyful, not intoxicated. If you prefer just to get inebriated we highly recommend any of the dozens of Niagara drunk shuttles that shuffle you onto and off the bus like cattle - not before milking you, of course. And, no, our guide won't hang out and smoke at the bus while you sip three standard one-ounce tastings served by a passionless server on a summer job.
For first-rate folk we offer first-rate experience including fulfillment, laughs, bonding, growth, health and respect for nature and life.
Q. My husband is going to show up with a bad attitude. Can you fix that?
A. No. You're going to fix him in the car about being a good boy. At the first sight of trees he'll smile. At the first sight of wine he'll forgive you - and you'll forgive him, again.
Q. My friends are into superficial things and prefer to dress up and go to wineries recommended by the shallow. Do you go to popular Niagara wineries and can we look nice?
A. No. No.
Q. Is there any such thing as a Niagara Wine Trail? We read somewhere about a wine trail in Niagara.
A. Niagara Wine Trail is a lovely phrase that emits an image of wineries situated along a nature trail but doesn't exist. My tours involve a nature hike followed by a wine tasting at the friendliest winery in Niagara. It's like the term "Beer Garden." Not really the garden of beer we dream of.
Q. Why do we pay for our tasting fees? That's bogus, man.
A. I have a conscience. I want you to be motivated to buy bottles at the wineries. Most Niagara wineries resent large tour groups because nobody buys. Them folks are just out to get wasted. If tastings were included in the price you'd likely down a few then stumble back into the car without any sensitivity to the winery.
Q. Whatever, bud. If I wanna hike I'll hike on my own. And I'll visit Niagara wineries the way I want. Who needs you?
A. While I strongly encourage people to hike without a guide, I take you on a special route that proves very fulfilling and enjoyable. We go "off trail" - unmapped and unknown. As for your question, nobody truly needs me but I was endowed with certain gifts and relationships with wineries that enable me to facilitate an incomparable experience. But by all means save the money. I prefer to hike and drink wine without a guide too! We have so much in common!
Q. Can I bring my dog?
A. Dogs we love, dog owners we don't. If you shout at your dog and make him/her the center of your life, chances are we're not going to get along.
Q. Is this more fun than a Niagara bike and wine tour? Like, we want to risk our lives by biking to wineries on a Niagara winery bike tour.
A. While biking to Niagara wineries is thrilling it is also life threatening. We tend to steer clear of life threatening experiences and stick to life enhancing.
Q. Do we visit Wayne Gretzky Winery, Trius, Jackson Triggs, Stratus, Konzelmann, Chateau des Charmes, Inniskillin, Two Sisters or Peller Estates?
Q. You sound sort of lame. Will this impress my partner?
A. If I sound lame it's because I take your experience very seriously. My business is your pleasure. Your pleasure is my business. Your partner's pleasure is uh, well, my business but your pleasure.
Q. Are you gonna lecture us about nature, ecology and geology? We're out for a good time, bro. I hope you don't bore us with a bunch of talk, talk, talk.
A. I can't tell the difference between a tree and a rock so no lectures except about your attitude should you require a little talking to.
Q. I noticed your requirement for humour. So far, you don't sound very funny. Can we require YOU to be humorous?
A1. Of course, humour is part of my nature and culture. Some folks can detect my sarcasm while others cannot. Those are called "Americans." That's a joke - sort of.
A2. More about Americans. They're some of the most fun people in the world, have low expectations and come to play. They invented the tail-gate party where you show up in a parking lot and drink. That's pretty damned creative. Most of my favorite groups come from the USA - humour-friendly or not.
Q. Dude, why so cheap?
A. I'm not a money grabber.
Q. Can you pick us up and drop us off at our Niagara lodging?
A. For a small fee. Okay, maybe I am a money grabber.
Q. We just need a taxi driver to shuttle us to Niagara wineries. Could you just drive us to a few Niagara wineries of our choice?
A. Not my favorite thing to do but possible. Please reach out and we'll talk.
Q. Do you host bachelorette parties in beautiful Niagara wine country?
A. Um, yep. I've learned that girls are more fun than guys so bachelorettes are more than welcome on this Niagara wine tour. Girls go out of their way to ensure the bride has a blast which means everybody is dialed in and dialed up.
Q. What if I'm out of shape?
A. Get in shape.
Q. What Niagara wineries do we go to?
A. Why does that matter?
Q. Are you some sort of wine expert?
A. No, and never trust anyone who claims to be.
Q. Howcome there aren't any photos of "guy groups", huh? Explain that!
A. Guys don't book this tour because they're concerned about what their friends think and don't want to be perceived to like wine or need a hiking guide. Besides, they're completely unable to organize a day out. From a message I received from a bro trying to organize a day for his pals: "We can't figure out the logistics of getting from Toronto to your tour." Women have coordinated ten friends (many of whom didn't know each other) on ten schedules with ten wine preferences and ten varying physical abilities coming in ten separate cars. . . and made it look easy.
Q. You sound sort of - what's the word? - difficult. Are you really like that on the tour?
A. Most of my bosses said that too. It's because I care so much about doing the best job possible but 80% of the fun is dependent on you and your attitude. Hence my pre-disposition to engage a pre-emptive strike to make sure you're in the right frame of mind to have a mind-blowing time. After all, you have as much fun as you want.
Q. We notice you're a white male. We've been conditioned by influencers to resent white males - even though we come from a country that claims to be inclusive. Are you going to act like a "privileged" white male?
A. I've lived in more places and interfaced with more cultures than most so I assure you that I'll have more tolerance of you than the reverse. "Privileged" - right. That's why I'm a tour guide dragging your husband's mopey ass through the woods. I ask a lot of questions about your past so be prepared to lose any socialized smugness and be open to growth.
Q. Do you hike in winter?
Q. What if everything goes wrong, i.e. I twist an ankle and don't like the wine.
A. Don't twist an ankle. Twist off the cap and don't take the wine too seriously.
Q. Woh woh woh! WE take wine VERY seriously. Can you guarantee we'll like the wine?
A. Wine-tasting is not wine drinking. It's less about the wine and more about the banter with the server. Your server makes or breaks your experience. The more you engage in light-hearted (read: humorous) ways, the more fun you'll have. It's not about being silly. It's about being present.
The more your server likes you
The more she'll pour you
The more likely you'll find a wine you like
The more likely you'll buy a bottle or two
Happy Everybody! (That first lesson is free).
Should you not care for the wine at least you'll have an enjoyable and memorable experience. This is what sets apart my tours.
Q. Do the Niagara wineries like/respect you?
A. No, that's the short answer.
Q. We'd like the long answer.
Q. Uh, you sort of dodged the previous question. More about most wineries not respecting you please?
A. Correction: the wineries to which I take you know what they're doing. They respect and pretend to like me because I prepare my guests for their experience and teach them how to engage. This means we treat the server with great respect which makes the server treats us with great respect. Niagara wineries (i.e. Cornerstone, Rockway, Kings Court) that appreciate me understand - and agree with - my approach to wine tasting.
On the other hand. . .
The wineries that don't like/respect me are ones that:
1. Don't believe in banter and engagement
2. Believe more in "selling" or "explaining" the wine (or impressing the guest with knowledge)
3. Don't have a knack for ambiance or connection
4. Misperceive me as a clown out to entertain and/or seek entertainment
5. Have never been wine tasting in any other region that knows what it's doing - say, like, Italy, Napa, France. You get the picture.
Q. Okay, okay, I'm beginning to understand. But isn't wine-tasting just like drinking in a bar?
A. Um, nope. Here's where I get technical. Wine-tasting is unique. You stand (not sit at a table) which means your energy is up. You're sampling various wines and chatting lightly with the server about the wine, their lives, the wineries, your travels. You're not there all day. You're there for thirty to forty five minutes (or longer if you're having a good time which means you're playing it right) in a space of escapism and bliss as the alcohol settles in. Your server isn't there to sell you a meal or serve other waiters or pour pitches of beer. They're there to chat with you (when possible) and you're there to converse with anybody around. After all, a bottle of wine is usually shared - over conversation. So wine tasting should represent that.
Q. We're from Europe. We hike all the time and know our wine. What are you gonna do about it?
A. Ask you not to book this experience. You take the hike, wine and yourselves too seriously. Exceptions being anyone from the British Isles and Ireland.
Q. Who were your worst groups?
A. Y'know who never asks me that? The worst groups.
Q. No, seriously: who were your worst groups?
A. Ones from Vaughan.
Q. Wha? I'm from Vaughan! Why y'gotta hate?
A. Wha? Why y'gotta be from Vaughan?
Q. Who are your best groups?
A. Jamaicans. Come to play and don't whine. "White folks don't know how to have fun," they say. And they're right.
Q. Do you drink with your guests?
A. I did, till my therapist said, "Okay, that has to stop."
Q. Can you recommend any places to stay?
A. You're kidding, right? How am I to know your budget, preferences, styles and number of people? You're already being high maintenance so this tour is likely not for you.
Q. Where does the River & Wine occur?
A. In your mind, brah. . .
Q. Um, seriously. We can't read a Google Map. . .
A. Near Jordan Village in Lincoln, Ontario
25 minutes from Niagara Falls (Canada) and Niagara-on-the-Lake (Canada)
30 minutes from Hamilton
45 minutes from Buffalo, NY
45 minutes from Crystal Beach
1 hour from Toronto (accessible by Go Bus)
2 hours from London