Recently, Shawn and I booked a weekend away in Prince Edward County. Since I’ve become interested in food and wine, I’ve been fascinated with all that’s going on in that part of Ontario. There seem to be so many amazing wine and farming businesses taking off there and on Twitter there is lots of discussion about all there is to see and do. It didn’t take much for me to decide that PEC was going to be the place for us to celebrate our recent anniversary. I thought I’d share some of the wonderful things I discovered there.
66 Gilead Distillery – I first heard about this gin and vodka distillery on Twitter and was intrigued. I then saw a mention in Toronto Life and realized I really needed to check this place out. Shawn enjoys vodka more than wine, so he was happy to head into the heart of farm country to find this little barn and farmhouse. The vodkas are excellent – we tried the wheat and pine and purchased the wheat. Pine wasn’t really to our tastes, but many love it. We also picked up a bottle of their gin, which has amazing flavor and a wonderful bite. It’s incredible to have such an interesting resource so close to home.
Black Prince Winery – This was a recommendation from one of my wine friends on Twitter, Matt the Wine Guy. When a sommelier student suggests you try a wine it’s always a good idea to take them up on that suggestion. So Shawn and I made Black Prince one of our first stops – and it didn’t disappoint. I bought two wines there, Harwood Gewurztraiminer 2007 and Black Prince Chambourcin 2006. The winery doesn't look like much from the highway, but it's quite lovely inside and has a beautiful patio. And they really do have some excellent wines.
Buddha Dog – This was another Twitter recommendation and it did not disappoint. With all local food, we stopped by for a light lunch. I had a grilled cheese and Shawn had a hot dog. The portions are tiny (you’re meant to order more than one of each), but it was exactly what we needed after a huge breakfast. The flavours just pop in your mouth and you can taste the difference local food makes.
Karlo Estates – I had followed Karlo on Twitter for awhile and they had been hugely helpful in booking our trip – always happy to offer suggestions of places to visit. They were also so welcoming in advance of my visit – sending out tweets and making sure they knew my arrival time. Finally meeting Sherry and Richard was such a treat and the wine – oh the wine. Karlo makes the only chardonnay (CHOA) I’ve ever tried that I really liked and their ports – well, the ports are a thing of beauty. The red was just divine – not too sweet and not too heavy and the white (yes, they make a white port) is crisp and light and a little sweeter. I loved it. We will definitely be back to visit Karlo Estates again and I hope you’ll take the opportunity to do the same if you’re ever out that way.
Harwood Estates - Harwood knows how to host a tasting. We loved how warm and inviting they were and how prepared they were for a large tasting group. They also had cute leis available for all the celebrating people to wear. In addition, their wines are fantastic – I highly recommend their not-too-sweet dessert wine, Just Desserts 2009, which is a perfect option for marinating berries in. And Harwood is the only fully solar winery in the area – they have an environmentalist on staff and take their commitment to eco-friendly products very seriously. Again, one that we will visit again.
The Lavender Farm – This was a little out of the way (we got so lost trying to find it), but it was worth the trek through the country. It’s a lovely little farmhouse with huge fields of lavender. You can purchase plants and other lavender products - we picked up some lavender honey. You can also visit Lacey Estates while you’re out there. We stopped in to pick up a bottle of red for a family member and Shawn discovered his favourite red of the trip – their award-winning Baco Noir.
The County Cider Company – We went to see Lake on the Mountain and figured since we were out that way, we would visit County Cider. They have great reviews and all the locals told us it was worth it for the views and the wood oven lunch. We didn’t have time for lunch, but the view from the patio is spectacular! And it’s well worth it to pick up some cider if you’re a fan of that spirit (which I'm quickly becoming).
Rosehall Run – We have to comment on the amazing service we got here. Granted, we were the first customers of the day, but the gentleman who served us went above and beyond to help us pick not only the right wine, but some wonderful local food as well. We got lavender vinegar, locally made mustard and even some meat. We will definitely be back at Rosehall for the great food, wine and service. A must-do in my opinion.
Danforth Mill – We actually just stumbled on this one while driving around lost looking for the Lavender Farm. It was well-worth stopping. We met the owners, bought a loaf of melt-in-your-mouth-good bread and some Scandinavian-style flat bread and realized that this was why local food was so important. I wish we could stop there for our bread every week (even though I try not to eat much bread).
There were so many places we enjoyed on this trip and no way I could include them all here. From The Merrill Inn where we stayed, to Portabella and The Acoustic Grill where we did dinner, to the other fantastic wineries we visited (Sandbanks, Waupoos and Huff), we had an amazing trip. We also stopped for local fruits and veggies at a roadside stand and raided my uncle’s garden for rhubarb. Whether you’re a wine fan or not, there is a lot worth seeing and doing in PEC. We can’t wait for our next trip.
Is there anywhere I've missed? Leave me your comments so I'll know what to add to the list for our next trip!