Riverbend Inn & Vineyard

Last weekend I went on my SambaDays Gourmet Getaway with the Sambassador program to Riverbend Inn & Vineyard in Niagara-On-The-Lake.  I have previously been to Inn On The Twenty in Jordan Station, but never down Niagara-on-the-Lake.  It was Jason’s birthday weekend as well and we had the best time.

Included in this SambaDays package was:

  • One night’s accommodation in a Deluxe guestroom
  • A $25.00 voucher to go towards dinner in our Dining Room
  • Breakfast for 2 in the morning
  • A farewell Riverbend gift upon departure

We turned down the beautiful tree lined driveway to Riverbend around 430pm and immediately felt like we were swept back in time.

The Inn is an old Georgian mansion and it sits in the middle of 12 acres of vineyard.  We were checked in by Linda the Concierge, who was very friendly and helpful.  We asked for info on the area and she told us to come back to see her on our way to dinner and she would put together a little package.

We went straight up to our room and when I opened the door to our beautiful room I was extra excited to see that we had a fireplace!

We relaxed and got ready for our dinner reservation at 6:00pm in the Inn’s dining room.  We were seated at a beautiful little table by the window, which looked out onto the vineyard.

Our server for the evening was Amy, who is the dining room manager and has been with the owners of Riverbend, the Del Ben family, for 18 years.  She used to work at their sister property – the Old Stone Inn (which you can also get with your Gourmet Getaway card).  Amy was also very knowledgeable about the inn, the area and of course, the menu!  She was absolutely fantastic and you can tell she loves her job.  She was very attentive and when she came to check on us/the food she asked “how are the flavours” which was very unique and my goodness, were the flavours ever scrumptious!

We started off with Amy’s recommendation on wine, the 2010 Riverbend Cabernet Saugvignon (Vineyard managed by Klaus Reif of Reif Estate Winery & estate bottled using only Riverbend’s own grapes exclusively) which was absolutely fantastic.

So good that we drank a bottle at the table and took a second up to our room for the night! (Please excuse some of the blurriness of the photos, my photographer is learning the fine art of taking pictures of his girlfriend for her blog!)

She then brought us an Amuse Bouche from the chef which was a Crab Salad Tarte and it was delicious.


Next we had freshly baked rolls & butter and I had the soup of the day, Celery Root Soup with a Paprika Creme Fraiche.

Jason had the Beef Carpaccio – Thinly Sliced Beef Tenderloin with Shaved Fennel, Arugula in a Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette, Pine Nuts, Shaved Grana Padano, Lemon Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

My soup was the perfect blend of flavours, and Jason’s carpaccio was fantastic.


For our main course, I had the Pest & Lobster Risotto – Creamy Italian Style Arborio Rice, Lobster Meat, Pesto, Grana Padano – which was a very unique dish for me to eat and it was delectable.  The perfect amount of lobster and a real treat for this picky vegetarian eater.  (Yes, I know lobster isn’t vegetarian, but I try to eat seafood if I can).

Jason had the Stuffed Grain Fed Chicken Supreme -Woolwich Goat Cheese, Walnuts, Calimyrna Fig Stuffing, Potato Puree & Butter Braised Rapini – and he said it was delicious.

For dessert I had the Creme Brulee (one of my all time favourite desserts) and it was delectable, followed by a Rivebend Coffee (I can’t remember the liquer in it).

Jason had 2 fingers of Crown Royal for dessert, and yes, that’s exactly what he asked for – the equivalent to about 4 shots.

After dinner we wandered back to the lobby (bottle of wine in tow) to chat with Linda and pick up our information.  She gave us a whole package of info, including a history of the Riverbend Inn building and 2 wine tasting tickets for Peller Estates and Trius.  Thank you very much Linda for all your info and help.

Obligatory Fireplace Pose

We went back up to our room, turned on the fireplace and relaxed with a few glasses of wine and some TV.  Then Jason decided he needed some fun, so we headed back down to the dining room to sit at the bar.  We both tried the Oast House beer (Jason a pint, me a half-pint) and he had another shot of Crown Royal.

The bar was closing, so we went for a quick walk around the outside of the inn and then back to our room to polish off the bottle of wine.  We were both exhausted after our day and were asleep at about midnight.

The next morning we woke up and went to breakfast at 930am.  I got a picture of the menu and then we both dove into our meals as soon as they came and I completely forgot to get pictures!  We both got the Country Breakfast (I gave Jason my bacon & sausage) and then we headed back to our room to pack and then down to checkout.

Our farewell gift was a bottle of Riverbend Vineyard 2011 Vidal & Riverbend Truffles.  Of course, we ate the truffles right away, but the wine is chilling for a special occasion aka this weekend 🙂

We had the best time at Riverbend Inn & Vineyard and I highly recommend adding it to your “to do” list.  The inn was gorgeous, the staff were all very knowledgeable, friendly and were happy to be there, and the food & wine… well it was absolutely delicious and one of the highlights of our weekend.

Thank you to SambaDays and the Sambassador program.  I can’t wait for my next adventure!

p.s. For all the photos from our adventure check out my Picasa HERE

The gift for the person who has everything

Ok, this is kind of a sales pitchy post BUT to be perfectly honest it is something that I have purchased for someone on my list AND something that I’ve experienced myself.

As you may know I’ve been a Samba Days Sambassador for the past two years.  Samba Days is a gift card for an experience.  There are tons of different options to choose from, for people of all ages and across the country.  You can choose from Adventures – like Flight Lessons or Skydiving; to Body & SoulSalt Cave Tranquility & Massage or Yoga Sanctuary; to my personal favourite, the Gourmet Getaway – check out the Inn On The Twenty (read my review here).  They also have gift cards so you can let your gift receiver decide on their own experience as well.

I am a last minute Christmas shopper myself, so the ease of purchasing online is a real time saver for me.  The Samba Days cards are also available in store at places like Shoppers, Longo’s, 7-11 or Safeway.

I’ll be doing another amazing Gourmet Getaway in the New Year with Jason and we’ll be heading to Riverbend Inn & Vineyard In Niagara-on-the-Lake.  I’ll of course write about it here, so stay tuned for a review.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!

Inn on the Twenty Samba Days Sambassador

This weekend I go to go on my first Sambassador experience, which was a getaway to Inn on the Twenty in historic Jordan Village.  It turns out that the available weekend they had was a few days before our 1 year anniversary, so it made the experience even more special.  Included in the package is

  • One night accommodation in a two storey Loft Suite
  • $50 gift card toward dinner
  • Breakfast at On the Twenty restaurant
  • Free makeup application with any spa service at The Spa on the Twenty
  • 15% off all spa services(excludes massage)
  • Complimentary parking
  • Farewell gift 


Jason and I headed out to Jordan Village on Saturday afternoon.  The drive should have taken us about an hour and 20 minutes, but it took us over 2 hours to get out of the city due to the Gardiner Expressway being closed!  As soon as we hit the highway though it took us no time at all to get there.  We arrived just after 5pm and pulled into a picturesque little main street, centered around the Inn.  Check in is at 3pm but we called ahead to let them know we’d be late.  They were expecting us and had our room ready and a free wine tasting certificate to use at the Cave Springs Cellar wine tasting bar.

We headed straight across the street to catch the wine tasting before our dinner reservation at 6pm.  We chose the CSV Pinot Noir, the CSV Chardonnay and the CSV Pino Noir Dolomite.  CSV means that the grapes have been planted since 1974 and they hand pick the best clusters for each year.  Jason bought us a bottle of CSV Pinot Noir and we ran back to our room to get dressed for dinner.

Everything is close in Jordan Village and we walked across the street to the On the Twenty restaurant.  They sat us at a table by the window and we spent our dinner looking out across the Twenty Valley.  The atmosphere was relaxed and definitely perfect for my dress.

The food was absolutely delicious.  We started with an Amuse Bouche – a mussel topped with pear and fennel; I had the Truffle Scented Linguini – woodland mushroom ragoût, organic pole beans, parmesan tuile, and Chardonnay cream and Jason had Ontario Heritage Beef Tenderloin – Ontario chanterelle and foie gras ragoût, pommes Anna, cipollini and Cabernet butter and we paired it with a carafe of their CSV Pino Noir Dolemite.  The food was fabulous – Jason says “It was amazing” and he’s got a pretty good palate.  We also commented on the portion sizes because they were perfect, just enough that we both ate our whole meals (for me this is no small feat!).


After dinner we went back to the hotel room to taste our bottle of Pino Noir and I got changed again to go for a walk to find the Jordan House Tavern.  There was a haunted house tour happening in the village and there were people dressed up as ghosts hiding all throughout the area.  They definitely scared me seeing someone in the shadows, but we actually had to ask a couple of ghost girls for directions!

The Jordan House Tavern is adjacent to the Jordan House Hotel and “there has been a roadhouse on this site since 1844 and it has hosted everything from church services to vigilante meetings in its history.”  We stopped in for beers, shots and great live music by Jay Maher – who played a great cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My” that made me want to sing it.

After drinks we went back to our cozy loft sweet and drank wine in front of the fireplace before falling asleep in the giant king sized bed – which we absolutely need to get for our house.  I had the best sleep and woke up the next day around 830am – I know, seems early but I’ve been on a crazy schedule lately so this was pretty good.  We went back over to Dine on the Twenty for breakfast which was a mini plate of pastries cornbread muffins, rosemary & cheese tea biscuits, apple danish and a two other pastries we didn’t try, a fresh fruit cup, fresh orange juice, tea or coffee and the choice of a cold cereal meal or hot eggs benedict or eggs florentine.  Of course we had the eggs!  Jason the benedict and I had the florentine.  If you’ve ever eaten breakfast with me you know that I can’t eat runny poached eggs.  They have to be hard or I’ll send them back – but they made the perfect eggs and we both thought their hollandaise sauce was excellent.

From breakfast we went back to our room to relax before our massages at 1030am (this was not included in the SambaDays experience and we splurged and treated ourselves).  I read by the fire for a while – finally getting around to reading Amber Mac’s Power Friending, and then we watched TV up in the loft until our massage therapists knocked on the door.  The massage room was close to ours so we didn’t have to take anything but the keys to our room.

We had massages in the same room and it was amazing.  I almost fell asleep and it was so nice and relaxing.  When we were finished our massages we headed back to our room to fruit, chocolate sauce and a small bottle of merlot.  We took a bunch of photos, packed up our stuff and checked out with Lianne, who was great and helped organize our reservation and services.  She gave us a bottle of their Riesling to take home and off we went to make our way back to the city.

Jason and I both had a really great time at Inn on the Twenty and in the village of Jordan.  It was a fun, relaxing romantic weekend away that was definitely something I would recommend and hope to do again.  I think it’s a great idea to give people a gift of something they can go and do and make memories out of, instead of a material item. I will remember this weekend.

Thank you to Samba Days and the Sambassador program for this awesome experience and to Scott, Lianne and the friendly staff at the Inn on the Twenty.  We’ll definitely be back.

I can’t wait for my next Sambassador experience.  Stay tuned!

For all the photos from our weekend you can check out the gallery







Last chance to enter the Samba Days contest!!!

The Samba Days contest.  Hurry up cause it closes at 12:00pm today!

You could win an Explore experience and could be doing something like:

Some of the experiences are for 2 or 4 people so you can treat your friends or significant other to an adventure!

To enter the contest you have to go to THIS POST and follow the instructions…

  1. Take a look through the SambaDays Explore Activitiesand post a comment below telling me which one you’d like to try (you can always change your mind if you win)AND
  2. Tweet or FB – I want to win an Explore Gift Experience from @carlyannedotcom & @SambaDays
    ***make sure you link to me on FB so I can see it***


Explore SambaDays Gift Experience for You!

At the beginning of August I announced that I was asked to be a part of the SambaDays Sambassador program.  This week I got confirmation of my 1st experience booked, Jason and I get to go away to Inn on the Twenty, a bed and breakfast on the Niagara Peninsula.  I don’t want to give away too many details before we get there so it’s a surprise 🙂  But we’re going to have a really nice, relaxing weekend away.

The best part of partnering with SambaDays is that they want to give YOU  the chance to experience SambaDays for yourself.  I’ve got one Explore SambaDays Gift Experience to giveaway, worth $89.  There are 110 Discovery Activities you can choose from all across Canada AND this contest is open to EVERYONE!!!

To enter the contest you have to do a little bit of work…

  1. Take a look through the SambaDays Explore Activities and post a comment below telling me which one you’d like to try (you can always change your mind if you win)


  2. Tweet or FB – I want to win an Explore Gift Experience from @carlyannedotcom & @SambaDays
    ***make sure you link to me on FB so I can see it***

And that’s it!

I’ll choose the lucky winner next Wednesday, October 12 at 12:00pm.

Good luck to you!