THE OFF SEASON: Prince Edward County exploring

PEC_roadside_01It came 1 month and 19 days late but Mike and I finally went on our yearly wedding anniversary trip.  Though booked way back in April, our August 28th [ had to book this date as it was the earliest available weekend at the Drake Devonshire Inn ] Prince Edward County [ PEC ] getaway had since been circled on my calendar and felt forever away.

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Bright and early Friday morning, Mike and I loaded the car, gassed up, quickly stopped for americanos and breakfast sandwiches and hit the road.

P A R T 1 :  E X P L O R I N G

The closer we got to the county the more we truly felt like we were leaving the city behind; the highways turned into narrow pavement and gravel roads and the side rails into fields of vegetation.  PEC was a nice departure from the scene of Niagara that Mike and I usually escape to for a winery fix.  Perhaps it was because we started our exploration on a Friday morning at the end of August, but there were less crowds and overall, it was more calm.

PEC_NormanHardie_02PEC, with its rich history rooted in agriculture, cool Ontario climate, and vein of limestone running through its soil made all the wines we sampled truly unique to the region.  The wineries in the area appeared to be smaller family run operations grouped in close clusters;  ideal for hitting up several in a row (!) and avoiding the usual wine tours and commercial protocol.  It was great!  At each stop, Mike and I picked up a bottle or 2 and due to proximity, we filled a box in no time.

Note: I’m no wine aficionado, so…I’m solely sharing with you my pics from each winery and short of what I was told by the proprietors, not so much of my own wine commentary on grapes, vintage, or terrioir.  I simply know that I like drinking wine!

D A Y  1

S T O P 1 : Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyard | 1152 Greer Rd. Wellington, ON

PEC_Nornan Hardie_01This winery was one of our faves of the trip.  It felt young, cool, and casual; an all around great atmosphere.  Upon entry, we were greeted and welcomed to roam around [ which we soon discovered was the county’s equivalent to a wine tour ], sample the wines, have some food, and jump on the trampoline [ which I obviously did! ].

Decidedly our favourite winery and our favourite wines of the trip!

PEC_NormanHardie_05PEC_NormanHardie_04Before heading out, we stayed for lunch and enjoyed a wood-fired thin crust mushroom + brie pizza and glass of wine.

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S T O P 2 : Rosehall Run | 1243 Greer Rd. Wellington, ON

PEC_RosehallRun_02We walked in and died at the smell of fresh cookies out of the oven.   As I fixated on the person filling the cookie jar on the counter, we sampled some delicious lighter wines and left with 2 bottles and a jar of crunchy mustard.  For eats, besides fresh cookies, Roseahall had a food truck [ PICNIC ] parked right outside its doors.  If we weren’t still stuffed from the pizza we downed 5 minutes prior, we would have definitely loaded up.

PEC_RosehallRun
S T O P 3 : Kient-He Winery and Vineyards | 49 Hubbs Creek Rd. Wellington, ON

PEC_KTKient-He wines focus in on local and pride themselves on showcasing the unique land and climate conditions of the region.  In addition to sampling wines, we got to see the barrels behind the scenes.

S T O P 4 : By Chadsey’s Cairns Winery and Vineyard | 17432 Loyalist Parkway [ 5k west of Wellington ]

PEC_Chancy_04We walked up to the property and I immediately fell in love before even trying the wine.  The views were amazing, the fields were lush, and the barn on site was perfectly filled with bales of hay.  Upon entering the sampling room I noticed a chalkboard and on it read that the owners were looking to sell.  Of course, I immediately turned to Mike to discuss the possibility of us both leaving our jobs in the city, purchasing this winery, and devoting the next half of our lives to wine.  No verdict had been reached but I’d like to think that the conversation is still on the table.

Then I sampled the wines; refreshing!

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S T O P 5 : The Drake Devonshire Inn |  24 Wharf St. Wellington, ON

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We arrived in PEC several hours before check in and happily filled the time with winery hopping.  Because the Devonshire was an experience on its own and, no surprise, I have a ton of pics to share, I will be blogging about it in PART 2 of our PEC adventure.  Stay tuned; more to come!

S T O P 6 :  Trail Estate Winery | 416 Benway Rd. Hiller, ON

PEC_vineyard_01This winery brought new and interesting insights to our short yet ever growing wine lives.   Mike and I had only been to wineries that were fully up and running; wines bottled and grapes growing on mature vines.  Trail Estate, though already up and running and bottling their yield of baco noir and other blends, had a field of young vines about 2 years away from being transformed into wines.  The vineyard’s new winemaker walked us through the rows as we sampled whites and she gave us an up-close look and detailed explanation of wine making and the farming techniques unique to the county due to its climate.  We picked her brain on her life as a winemaker and naturally I again contemplated leaving my job and imagined my life as a winemaker.  I don’t think I’d be very good at it but how cool would that be!?

Mike and I are definitely going to make a point of it to re-visit this winery a few years from now; taller crops and wines bottled from vines we saw when they were little babies.

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D A Y  2

After a morning yoga class and brunch at the Devonshire, with coffees in hand, Mike and I continued our exploring of the country.

S T O P 7 : A littler farmer’s market in Wellington

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S T O P 8 : Dead People’s Stuff | 388 Bloomfield Main St. Bloomfield, ON

PEC_deadpplsstuffPEC_DeadpplsStuff_04PEC_deadpplsstuff_03PEC_deadpplsstuff_02

S T O P 9 : An impromptu road side stop at a yard sale in a barn

PEC_Yardsale_02PEC_Yardsale_01We walked away with a metal milk jug!

S T O P 10 : County Cider Company | 657 Bongards Crossroads; Waupoos, ON

PEC_cider_06From grapes to apples, we swapped the wine tasters for a flight of ciders.

PEC_cider_04 PEC_cider_01PEC_cider_02

S T O P 1 1 : Fifth Town Artisan Cheese | 4309 County Road 8; Prince Edward, ON

PEC_cheese_01With green facilities including subterranean cheese aging caves + solar panels + wind turbines, Fifth Town, is Canada’s most sustainably and socially responsible run dairy.

S T O P 1 2 : Devil’s Wishbone Winery and Vineyard | RR#4 Canada, 1014 County Rd 7; Prince Edward, ON

PEC_devilswishboneWe had a delicious bottle of the Devil’s Wishbone cab franc at dinner the night before and couldn’t leave the county before  hitting up the vineyard.  It was a littler further than where were staying and where we had already explored but it’s a good thing we did as I discovered a new not so rosé rosé that I really enjoyed [ a pinot gris allowed to rest on the skins ].

 S T O P 1 3 : 66 Gilead Distillery | 66 Gilead Rd. Bloomfield, ON

PEC_66_0166 Giead, a family run craft distillery of gin, vodka, shochu, rum, and whisky all distilled on site.  In addition to spirits, bitters, vintage glass wear [ for sale ] , a live band, free roaming birds, and 2 pigs can all be found on the property; action packed!

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S T O P 1 4 : Dinner at The Hubb Eatery | Angeline’s Inn – 33 Bloomfield Main St. Prince Edward, ON

PEC_thehub_01The highlight of the meal; fresh water buffalo milk burrata.  Yum!

D A Y  3

S T O P 1 5 : Brunch at The Agrarian Bistro | 75 Bloomfield Main St. Bloomfield, ON

PEC_Brunch_01I obviously ordered the breakfast poutine.  No regrets!  So good!  Also, attached to this bistro is a cheese + bread + meat shop by day and a speakeasy by night.  After dinner at The Hubb, the evening before, we stopped into the speakeasy.  We sat on tables made of wine barrels, sipped our cocktails, and listened to a live band sing Canadian-Irish folk songs.  Conveniently, after brunch we stopped in again to pick up some fresh baked bread to eat with our handmade Fifth Town cheeses for our picnic at the beach.

S T O P 1 6 : Slickers County Ice Cream Ltd. | 271 Main St. Bloomfield, ON

PEC_Icecream_01We walked by after brunch and noticed that there was no line up out the door.  Capitalizing on the opportunity we stopped in for a scoop.  We both had the toasted marshmallow.

S T O P 1 7 : Sandbanks Provincial Park | 004 County Rd 12; Picton, ON

PEC_sandbanks_04We spent our last day at the beach for some sand + sun, and snacked on our county finds.

PEC_sandbanks_02Waupoos cider
Fifth Town meat + cheese + sea salt crackers
Agrarian bread
Vicki’s Veggies tomatoes

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S T O P 1 8 : Hagerman Farms | 13791 Loyalist Parkway; Picton, ON

PEC_HagFarm_02 Our last stop for farm fresh groceries before we headed back to Toronto.  Amongst our bags of veggies, we picked up some delicious bib lettuce, ears of corn, and of course Mike needed to buy another bag full of tomatoes.

PEC_HagFarm_03  PEC_HagFarm_01

Summer has quickly come to an end and this Prince Edward County weekend escape was the perfect send off.  I will now have a ton of memories and a box full of wines get me through Football Season 2015.

Happy 3 year anniversary!
Happy start of fall!
Happy Football Sunday kick off!

madelaine

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