Paradise Grapevine Geary
Paradise Grapevine is a wine and beer bar that doubles as a winery at its second location on Geary Avenue.
Industry veterans David Everitt and Christian Davis had envisioned having their own laid-back spot that served natural wines, a small rotation of beers, and snacks. They opened the first Paradise Grapevine on Bloor Street West in 2018.
The owners grew an interest in wine-making a year after opening and produced their first vintage in 2019. Sharing the wine-making facilities with Creemore Hills Winery, the duo made over 90 tonnes of their own wine in the two years that followed.
Everitt and Davis had always planned to move the wine production to the city. That happened in July when they took over 218 Geary Avenue, which was once home to Meta Dos Leitoes, a Portuguese rotisserie chicken restaurant.
The winery will be operating in full swing later this fall and will be using grapes sourced from local farmers across the Niagara region.
The grapes will be processed on-site, pressed, fermented and aged in tanks or barrels. The wines will be available for purchase to take home or enjoyed at the bar after bottling.
Unlike the Bloor Street West outpost which serves over 200 types of wine, beers and ciders, the Geary location is focused on Paradise Grapevine's products.
While what's served is different, the vintage, rustic atmosphere is a consistent feature in both spaces. Walking inside the Geary location, you're met with a wall of mirrors that wrap around the bar and the room's tiger-print velvet booths.
Hints of industrial design poke out through tin ceiling tiles, while a mixture of wood fills the space in the form of tables and wine barrels near the front entrance.
One of the biggest selling points for visiting this location - especially in warm weather season - is the giant patio that wraps around the side of the building.
From Thursday to Sunday evenings, you'll find a delicious mix of wood-fired cooked Spanish and Argentinean dishes.
But let's talk about the wine. What's different about Paradise Grapevine is that they focus on keeping their product simple when it comes to ingredients. Instead of putting in additives like tannin and sugar, they rely on the yeast already present in the fruit to ferment and add flavour to the wine.
The first wine I tried was their Nightcall Pet Nat. Listed under the vintage section on the menu, it's made with Zweigelt grapes. A glass of this goes for $12, or you can get a bottle for $55.
I found the wine made with this Austrian varietal had notes of Swedish berries, cherry, and cranberry. Dark and lightly spiced, I enjoyed the mildly sweet and tart cherry flavours.
Their How I Dream of You Pinot Gris pet nat (glass, $13/bottle, $59) has a wonderful fizz. It's a skin-contact wine that's also made without the addition of sulphur. I enjoyed the aroma of sweet peach and nectarines as I sipped my glass.
The last wine I tried was the Vin de Soif (glass, $13/bottle, $59) that's made with Gamay and Zweigelt grapes.
This vibrantly ruby red wine is meant for easy drinking, meaning you can have a few glasses and not feel completely sloshed. Its light and fruity flavour makes it a good option for summer.
I couldn't resist trying some of the food with the mouthwatering smell of grilled meats and veggies wafting in from the patio.
Head chef Kaitlyn Lasagna, sous chef Adrian Dilena, and chef de parties Sonam Choden tell me that their goal is to create consistently good dishes that pair well with the wine served here.
The food does change seasonally, but this is what I tried.
The Shrimp Cocktail ($17) is simply served with a wedge of lemon, sweet drop peppers, and cocktail sauce.
While it's not a grilled item, the classic dish does pair with any of the list's white wines, particularly with the winery's How I Dream of You.
The grilled chicken drums ($15) are possibly an ode to the Portuguese restaurant that used to call the space home.
The dish features four drumsticks that have been marinated with achiote paste and finished with some green onions. The chicken had a nice touch of char and pronounced pepperiness.
If you're a cheese lover, I'd recommend the Provoleta ($16). Many others from neighbouring tables asked me about this dish because it caught their attention when it arrived at my table.
Here, a skillet filled with Provolone cheese is placed on the grill and heated until the cheese is completely melted and starts to crisp up around the edges. Topped with charred salsa and chimichurri, the condiments add dynamic flavours to the cheese dish.
Pro tip: Order a side of bread to go with all this cheesy deliciousness.
In true Paradise Grapevine tradition, they've kept the sign of the former business up on their storefront.