Gourmet Travel - On the Twenty Restaurant, Jordan - Southern Ontario Wine Tour

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Tasting Niagara - On the Twenty, Jordan, Ontario

by Wade Rowland - Part 6

The town of Jordan, Ontario, once virtually abandoned, owes just about everything to Len (Leonardo) Pennachetti, who, with his late father, pioneered quality grape production in the Beamsville area. When, in 1986, his father died and the family businesses, including the vineyards and other real estate holdings, fell into his hands, Pennachetti abandoned Ph.D. studies at York University's School of Social and Political Thought, brought fellow doctoral candidate and vinophile Angelo Pavan on board, and became a full-time proprietor of the little Cave Spring winery. Along the way, he restored the village and its surviving structures to the country shopping, food-and-wine mecca it has become. Len Pennachetti is currently the chair of Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario (VQAO).

On the Twenty restaurant
View from On the Twenty restaurant, Jordan
Photo © Christine Collie
We stayed for lunch at Pennachetti's On the Twenty restaurant adjacent to the winery and its retail shop, overlooking a spectacular Niagara escarpment ravine. It was a beautiful vista, at the height of the autumn colours. Just across the street is the thirty-one room Twenty Hotel and Spa (owned by you-know-who), another of the quaint but lavishly-outfitted inns springing up throughout southern Ontario to serve stressed-out, well-heeled city folk. (Some rooms have private terraces; many have fireplaces and Jaccuzis.)

By now we'd come to have high expectations of winery food, and our meal at the Twenty did not disappoint us. This was the first of the destination dining spots in Niagara focussing on regional produce (it opened in 1993), and it remains one of the best. We have concluded that one could travel far and not find a better way to spend a long weekend than to enjoy the food, wine and hospitality of little Jordan on the Twenty.

On the short drive back to downtown Toronto, itself a hotbed of fine cuisine, we thought about how food and wine culture has blossomed in this part of Canada in recent decades. We can remember when to drink and dine really well for any extended period required a trip to Europe-or a European-born mom!. No longer. The gastronomic holiday is real and lively prospect for anyone living in or visiting southern Ontario.

Further information, bookings:

www.vintageinns.com (Prince of Wales Hotel and several associated properties)

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