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Archive for ‘Traveling to wine regions’

I’ll raise a glass to that!

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017
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Smooth.  Round.  Smells like a field of wildflowers. With descriptors like this, I bet you don’t think that I am talking about gin.  Certainly not the mass produced Heindricks or Gordons gin that is.  Rather, it is exactly how I would describe my first sip of Juniper’s Wit Gin made by Prince Edward County’s first (and only) craft distillery Kinsip House of Fine Spirits.  For fans of The County, you might jump in to correct me, “Hold on…there IS another distillery there.”  Well the big news is that the 66 Gilead distillery was the original business run by a husband & wife team, was recently sold to a sister & brother team with their spouses ready to lend a hand. Jeremiah Soucie is the proud new owner and self taught master distiller with 3 very supportive partners – his wife Sarah Waterston her brother, Michael and his wife Maria.

These two siblings see each other more than I see my own brother…and they live further away! You see, Sarah & Jeremiah live in Ottawa while Sarah’s brother Michael & his wife Maria reside in Toronto.  Both couples have 2 children of the same age: 2 & 6 years old. For years, the two families have been rendez-vousing in The County for weekend getaways and family holidays. “The County is a perfect place to meet in the middle”, acknowledged Sarah.

Their jaunts to Prince Edward County were certainly not with the intent of starting a business there – let alone a distillery. This foursome has busy lives & careers.  In Ottawa, Sarah is a pediatrician and Jeremiah is an Orange Critical Care Paramedic.  Maria is an executive in a high tech company based in Toronto. Michael is also involved in the medical field.

Despite their city addresses, both couples longed for their children to grow up in a rural environment.  And Jeremiah was exploring various avenues in The County to see where he could make a dramatic career move.  He considered being a chef.  He took a cheese making course. “It’s funny, I initially thought in terms of food not the drinks side”, Jeremiah explained in an interview for The County’s ‘Build a New Life’ site that profiles dynamic people leaving the cities for The County.  In this situation, this foursome are calling Ottawa, Toronto AND Prince Edward County home.

“Prince Edward County is a community of people who are committed to excellence of food and drink,” proudly shares Sarah.   “Now with Kinsip, we bring people together in a wonderfully welcoming and beautiful setting.”

 

Handing over the keys….

Encouraged by the craft beer explosion in Ottawa, Jeremiah got his wheels in motion to add to the craft scene with an small batch distillery.  Still in the back of his mind though, he wanted his kids to experience living in the country like he enjoyed during his childhood.  Then fate stepped in.  The owners of 66 Gilead – Sophia Pantazi and Peter Stroz – were selling their business. “They laid the ground work”, explained Sarah. “66 Gilead is the second craft distillery in Ontario.  They have been dealing with all of the uphill battles with alcohol regulators.  They have paved the roads for other craft distilleries to flourish.” Recently, North of 7 Distillery opened its doors in Ottawa and Top Shelf Distillers is established in Perth. “When the opportunity to purchase 66 Gilead presented itself, we were very fortunate for this opportunity.”  Respecting hard work of Sophia and Peter, the foursome have slightly tweaked the recipes of the portfolio and rebranded to Kinsip House of Fine Spirits to put their mark on the product. Dillon Reynolds, the distiller from 66 Gilead, continues to work his magic with the still and lives onsite to manage day-to-day operations.

Small batch vokda, gin, rye and rum remain the core of their portfolio.  Everything is distilled onsite.  They purposely use local ingredients in their concoctions including honey, maple syrup, berries, cherries and black currants. Plans are afoot to grow their own grains on the 40 acre farm. “We have found a secret spot to forage wild juniper berries for our gin.” Sarah says with a I-am-not-going-to-tell-you-anything-more smirk.

 

Bitters make cocktails even better!

While artisanal cocktails rising in popularity, handcrafted bitters are skyrocketing.  Sarah smiles as she pulls out the dozen plus bottles of bitters that Jeremiah makes to give cocktails made with his spirits added pizzazz. The combinations remind me of Baskin & Robbins ice cream flavours – Coffee Pecan, Lavender Lemon, Hibiscus Rosehip, Vanilla Rye and my personal favorite – Chilli Espresso.  Visit the distillery on the weekends and Sarah will teach you her tricks in the Mixology classes she offers onsite. All in the effort to perfect a cocktail with a splash and dash of their magic bitters.

“We came to this adventure from the love of food.  Now we taste together and celebrate life together around the table,” shares Sarah.

Now you have YET another reason to hit the road this summer bound for The County.

 

Travel Info:

Kinsip House of Fine Spirits
66 Gilead Road, located outside of village of Bloomfield
(613) 393-1890
Tasting Room is open from Thursday to Monday 10am – 5pm
www.kinsip.ca

 

 

~ Gin Cocktail Recipe ~

Lit Wit

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 ounces of Kinsip Juniper’s Wit Gin
1 long cucumber
1 ounce of Simple syrup
4 oz. sparkling wine (Preferably from The County!)
Kinsip Lemon Lavender Bitters

 

Method

Using a vegetable peeler, shave thin ribbons from cucumber.

Cut 6″ of cucumber into small pieces. Muddle in a cocktail shaker, then add gin and simple syrup and fill shaker with ice. Shake and strain into 2 ice-filled rocks glasses or large wine glasses.

Top each with 4 oz. of sparkling wine, garnish with 3 cucumber ribbons and gently stir together. Apply 2-3 drops of bitters to the top and serve.

 

 

~ Tasting Notes ~

Kinsip’s Duck Island Rum

Impression from a Rum Fan: A heavy caramel nose laced with citrus overtones when served warmed & no ice. Very light initially on the tongue with gentle vanilla and molasses, it matures to a more robust navy rum feel in the mouth. All the citrus colours and dripping sugars running out to join the party with some hot buttered toast! Delightful sweet and salty finish that lingers pleasantly. When ice is added, the melted water allows more molasses type flavours out in a rounder finish while giving the sip a pleasant maple syrup length. Stunning

 

 

Crimson Rye Whisky

Impression from a Scotch Drinker: Unusually dark.  When poured neat & rolled in the hand, it liberates an intense smokiness reminiscent of Highland peaty malts. When rolled in the mouth, it opens to a wonderful wide palette of flavours, interestingly dried grapes come to mind with characteristics of ice wine (without the sweetness) or Amarone wine. A drier finish than expected but standout good and different. When ice is added, the character shifts delightfully in to something altogether more playful. Some brandy-esque notes are released also allowing am almost port like first taste on the tip of the tongue. This mellows beautifully to sweeter sugars and a light smokiness. Very pleasant.

 

This article appeared in the Ottawa Life Magazine – May/June 2017 issue

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Malbec. Tango. Steak.

Posted by Debbie

Monday, April 17th, 2017
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I confess.  I have a glass of big bold Malbec red wine from Argentina beside me while I write this article.  What. A. Fabulous. Place.  The wines – both red & whites.  The steak.  The landscape.  The history.  I have told everyone since my trip that if you have the opportunity, jump on a plane and GO!

Argentina holds many mysteries.  Before I embarked on this trip, I did not know what to expect. I did not expect that I would learn about the wine industry while riding horseback in the Andes Mountains.  Nor did I expect that I would be touring the wine regions in a classic Citroen ‘Slowkar’ that was nearly the same age as me! I did not expect that I would be treated like a rockstar at one of Argentina’s largest wineries – Zuccardi Valle de Uco.  I did not expect that most days breakfast with coffee would cost more than a delicious steak dinner.  I also did not expect to see couples dancing tango under a tree that has been the meeting spot in Beunos Aires for over 300 years. And never did I imagine that the blue skies would dramatically turn into a hail and rain storm that pelted down so hard that collapsed the roof in the Buenos Aires airport.  Click here to see my travel photos >>

“Come and visit me at my winery anytime”.  Those words was all that I needed.  When Jose Zuccardi, Owner & President of Familia Zuccardi invited me to his homeland over a 3 hour lunch when I met him at the Vancouver International Wine Festival, I knew that this was a business card that I was going to keep.

The name Zuccardi may ring a bell, and so it should.  Like Yellow Tail and Jacobs Creek, Zuccardi’s wine – FuZion – quickly became a household name in Canada when it WOWed everyone of its quality as well as its incredible price of $7.45.  It still to this day baffles me the economics of how a bottle of delicious Malbec-Shiraz red wine can be made in the southern hemisphere, travel the world by boat and still land in my hands for less than $8.

 

“Malbec is Argentina’s emblematic grape because it is like a friend who will never let you down” – Edgardo del Pópolo, Argonomist

 

Winemaking in Argentina has a deep-rooted history.  For over 400 years, various grape varieties were grown for domestic consumption.  In the 1960 and 1970s Malbec wine was jug wine that was considered rustic.  Winemakers focused on quantity production not quality. This all changed in the mid-1980’s when famous consulting winemakers – Paul Hobbs from California, Michel Rolland and Herve Joyaux-Fabre from Franc, Roberto Cipresso and Alberto Antonini from Italy – recognized how they could dramatically adjust the existing winemaking processes to craft fine Malbec wines that could compete on the world stage. With their Midas touch, Argentinean Malbec took the world by storm.

Wines of Argentina reports that by the turn of the 21st century, there were over 1,500 wineries. Swiftly, Argentina has become the main producer of Malbec, with vines covering with nearly 40,000 hectares, compared to its neighbour Chile with about 6,000 hectares, France 5,300, South Africa about 4,000, New Zealand 80 and California has barely 45.

This stat is particularly interesting as Malbec originally stemmed from France where it was grown as a grape typically used for blending. The name Malbec was attributed to the French ‘mal bouche’ translates to ‘bad taste’, referring to the rustic characteristics of the grape that was used in small proportions in wines with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It is amazing how a ‘bad thing’ in France, eventually turned into an incredibly good fortune for Argentina.

In 1852, Malbec vines were brought to Argentina by Michel A. Pouget, a French agronomist who was hired by the Argentine government.  Less than 10 years later, the phylloxera bug decimated and destroyed the majority of the European vineyards (hit especially hard was France) and Malbec instantly disappeared.  The silver lining though is that half a world away, this grape variety was alive and flourishing. Today, with the popularity of Malbec, French winemakers are buying back Malbec vines from Argentina.

Taking a sip of my wine beside me, this Malbec wine begs for a BBQed steak, hearty stew or grilled mushrooms. Most are full bodied and heart warming – great for winters and BBQ seasons.  Winemakers in Argentina are experimenting different styles of Malbec wines to make it a wine to enjoy year round.  I have to admit, while in Argentina, temperatures soared to 38C and for me, a cold beer (not wine) was the best reprieve.

Winemakers are experimenting in every way to Malbec grapes be on everyone’s lips while they are in Argentina.  “Would you like your Malbec chilled?” we were asked at a bistro in Mendoza.  My Spanish is limited but I knew I heard the question right.  Fresh Malbec is a new style of young red wine that has not been aged in oak barrels and best enjoyed within a year.  Chilled like a white wine, this new way to drink Malbec is intended to quench the thirst as a cold beer does on a hot summer day.  “We are trying to encourage this style of wine so that people continue to drink red in heat,” explains Panos Zouboulis winemaker Bogeda Krontiras, one of the few certified biodynamic wineries in Argentina.

Visit a wine shop in Argentina, you will find shelves overflowing with Rose wines of all shades of pink made from Malbec grapes.  White, rose and red sparkling wines made with 100% Malbec are plentiful too.  This style will rapidly grow and take the world by storm with international companies such as Chandon (France), Codorniu (Spain) have established operations in Argentina and bring their talented sparkling winemakers with them.

Sweet late harvest and fortified port style wines and spirits like grappa are made with Malbec. Even Blanc de Malbec crafted by Vincentin Family Wines has turned heads when they launched in 2014 the first-of-its kind white wine made with 100% Malbec and aged in oak barrels. I would have jumped at the chance to try a white Malbec.  When you are at the LCBO or SAQ, periodically these rare Malbec wines are exported, so be on the look out!

 

Raise a glass to the rise of Malbec

Today – April 17 – is Malbec World Day.  Established in 2011 by Wines of Argentina, this is the day in the wine world when we uncork countless bottles of Argentinean Malbec wines at special wine events in over 70 cities around the world.

You can have your own Malbec celebration!  Here’s some of my top picks of Malbec wines at the LCBO:

 

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2013
$19.95

This is a classic expression of Malbec. Deep and dark in colour with violet, blueberry, blackberries aromas wafting from the glass. On your first sip, there is evidence that the wine has soft tannins, juicy black fruit, black pepper tastes with a little dark chocolate on the finish.   Uncork this Malbec to enjoy with a herb encrusted pork tenderloin or Sunday roast beef with all the trimmings.

One of the things that impressed me when I visited the winery was that they are using concrete tanks rather than the typical stainless tanks commonly used in winemaking.  And there are only a few oak barrels in the cellar….the winemaking team focuses on creating wines to bring out the natural flavours without the help of oak. That is incredible and the result is pure and outstanding.

 

BenMarco Expresivo 2014
$39.95

This wine will draw your eye to its stunning label.  A topnotch blend of 80% Malbec, 20% Cabernet Franc, loaded with fruit – pomegranate, boysenberry, ripe & juicy blackberries.

Made by one of the top female winemakers in Argentina –  Susana Balbo – this medium to full bodied red wine has a long dark chocolate and coffee finish can be enjoyed with the full range from meatloaf to prime rib.

Versado Reserva Ancient Malbec 2012
$59.95

You might think that Malbec is a wine that is typically under $25, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you splurge on this one.  A group of renown Canadian winemakers and winery owners joined forces to purchase a vineyard with plantings of 100 year old Malbec vines. Winemaker Ann Sperling (who is head winemaker at Southbrook Vineyards in Niagara & from Sperling Vineyards in British Columbia) makes incredible Malbec wines with the grapes that she has salvaged from this old vineyard.

This wine was just released. Wine writer Tony Aspler sampled a pre-release bottle and scored it an impressive 93 points: “Dense ruby colour; spicy, floral, blackberry nose with vanilla and cedar notes; medium to full-bodied, dry, ripe blackberry and blackcurrant flavours with a mineral thread and a lively spine of acidity; silky mouth-feel finishing firmly with a chocolate note.”

 

This article appeared in the March/April 2017 issue of Ottawa Life Magazine

 

Travel photos of Debbie’s trip can be seen on Savvy Company’s Facebook page – click here>>

 

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California Dreaming…

Posted by Susan

Thursday, March 30th, 2017
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How could you start a visit to the Sonoma/Napa area without a stop in San Francisco?

It was a brilliantly sunny day when we arrived, ever-present wisps of fog drifting over the hills as we gazed out across the Pacific Ocean. San Francisco offers endless delights, from Boudin’s unique sourdough bread to Tarantino’s fresh seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf. We did all the requisite things, riding the cable car up and down the hills downtown – several cars survived the great earthquake and fire of 1906, as we learned at the Cable Car Museum and operations centre. Fisherman’s Wharf swarmed with Labour Day weekend visitors, the sea lions oblivious, as they floated alongside docking fishing boats, hoping for scraps. We visited the Mission of San Francisco de Asis (guess where the city’s name originated), which opened in 1776, days before the American Declaration of Independence was signed, and also survived intact the great 1906 earthquake and fire. Muir Woods induced awe and reverence, the never-logged forest home to giant redwoods as much as 1000 years old. And everywhere we stopped for lunch or dinner, an endless range of California wines was available for sampling.

We made our way north to Sonoma County, and from our excellent B&B there, Mediterranea, visited a number of wineries in Napa Valley and Sonoma. We also spent a day travelling out to the Pacific coast, and had an absolutely amazing lunch at the River’s End Restaurant in the small town of Jenner. Don’t miss it if you are visiting the north California Coast!

 

 

Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery

Born into the Torres wine family, Marimar Torres has been immersed in the industry all her life. With degrees in business, education in oenology and a facility for languages, she was the ideal ambassador for Torres wines in her early career. After establishing her home in California, she focused her energies on increasing awareness of Spanish wines in North America. Ten years later, the sale of Torres wines in the U.S. had grown ten-fold, and Marimar was ready for the new challenge of establishing Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery.

The Don Miguel vineyard surrounds Marimar’s winery and tasting room, designed in the style of a Catalan farmhouse. Located in the cool climate Russian River Valley and named for her father, it was first planted in 1986 and now includes 81 acres of which 45 are planted principally to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with growing plantings of Albariño, Syrah and Tempranillo. Marimar has also recently planted Godello, a white grape variety that grows in Galicia, like Albariño, and produces attractive dry white wines. The Doña Margarita vineyard, named for her mother, is located in the cool Sonoma Coast AVA, the 20 acres planted solely with Pinot Noir. Marimar describes the differences between the Pinot Noir from the two vineyards as follows: the Russian River Valley Pinot is more opulent, with intense flavours of black cherry and wild berry, while the Sonoma Coast Pinot has an earthier character, similar to Burgundian wines.

Marimar Estate vineyards are all certified organic, while biodynamic principles are applied in all phases of vineyard management and winemaking. According to Marimar, since the conversion to organic principles, the wines from each block have become more expressive of their unique terroir.

To ensure the quality of the fruit, thinning takes place right after fruit set; leaves are regularly removed to ensure access to the sun; vines are trimmed by machete to remove excess top growth; and at veraison, excess grape bunches are removed to further concentrate flavour in those remaining. Hand harvesting, with several passes through the vineyard, ensures that only ripe bunches are picked.

As part of its commitment to sustainability, the winery has recently completed investments that allow it to meet all energy requirements through solar power.

Marimar continues to direct activities in the winery, established in 1992, as well as the vineyards. She has not limited herself to viticulture and winemaking, but has also published two authoritative books on Spanish cuisine, The Spanish Table and The Catalan Country Kitchen. The Torres family history in the vineyard and in winemaking dates back many generations in Spain, and while responsibility for the business has traditionally passed from father to son, Marimar is setting new traditions in the U.S., where her daughter Cristina, who grew up in the vineyards and is currently pursuing an MBA at Wharton, is the natural successor at Marimar Estate.

Due to very limited production – ranging from 5,000-10,000 cases depending upon the vintage – some wines are only available to wine club members, with only a limited number finding their way to Ontario. The 2014 ‘Acero’ Chardonnay was recently released in Vintages. We had the opportunity to try the new 2015 vintage at the winery (see the notes below). The fruit for the wine comes from the Don Miguel vineyard and is especially selected for intensity and aromatics, the grapes fermented in stainless to retain the unique character of the fruit.

Several other wines were tasted during our visit to Marimar’s Russian River Green Valley estate. These included her Albariño 2015, which offers lovely floral aromas, stone fruit and citrus flavours and a lively, crisp texture; the ‘La Masía’ Chardonnay 2014, showing alluring aromas and flavours of stone and tree fruit, a refined, creamy texture, and finely honed acidity to balance the rich fruit; the ‘La Masía’ Pinot Noir 2013, where cherry/berry, sweet spice and a whiff of citrus are underpinned by fine tannins and clean acidity; and the ‘Mas Cavalls’ Pinot Noir 2013 from the Doña Margarita vineyard, where this more feminine Burgundian wine offers classic aromas of red cherry, mineral notes and underbrush, framed by subtle tannins and lively acidity.

 

Marimar Estate Don Miguel Vineyard ‘Acero’ Chardonnay 2015
Russian River Valley 13.5% alcohol

A lovely pale gold, this brims with fresh aromas of sweet woodruff, citrus, pear and quince. Dry, mid-weight, silky yet juicy and lively in texture, this unoaked Chardonnay freshens the palate with flavours of crisp apple, pear and lemon curd, delivering a lasting, tangy finish. Enjoy chilled on its own or with fresh seafood.

 

 

Rodney Strong Vineyards
Dedicated, Passionate Craftsmanship

Located just south of the quaint Sonoma County town of Healdsburg, the Rodney Strong Vineyards tasting room is surrounded by some of the founder’s extensive original vineyards. Not only can you take a self-guided tour, or taste flights of wines on the terrace, Chef Tara Watchee has developed a finely balanced wine and food pairing experience where both components shine. As an example, the lively red fruit flavours of the 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir were complemented by a salad of watermelon, grilled corn, basil, Black Pig bacon, verjus and estate olive oil.

The winery was established in 1959 by acclaimed dancer and dance producer, Rod Strong, who had fallen in love with wine while working in Paris. Under his innovative direction, the winery thrived for over 40 years, achieving milestones such as the first single-vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon – Alexander’s Crown – which is still produced to this day. He was one of the first to plant Pinot Noir in the Russian River Valley, and the first to produce a ‘Chalk Hill’ Chardonnay. As Rod Strong was developing his wines and reputation in Sonoma County and beyond, Tom Klein was pursuing his education and subsequent career as a management consultant. With the long Klein family history and experience in farming, Tom must have seemed the ideal partner to Rod Strong when they established a consulting relationship.

Eventually, the Klein family purchased the winery in 1989, then set about acquiring additional vineyards, so that they now manage 14 outstanding estates encompassing in the order of 1400 acres, all in Sonoma County, ranging from the Alexander Valley in the north out to the Sonoma Coast. The range of vineyards and terroir ties into Tom Klein’s strong belief in the importance of place in winemaking – “Place isn’t the only thing, but place is the most important thing”. Rodney Strong wines are produced using only Sonoma County fruit and are made to Tom Klein’s exacting maxim – NO shortcuts.

With the goal of building a range of premium wines, David Ramey was hired as consultant and the ‘Artisan’ cellar was created, using smaller fermentation tanks to allow for fermentation of select rows of fruit, while additional investments were made in French oak barrels. Experimentation continues and has extended to the purchase of concrete Roman eggs for fermentation, and now to the creation of the square tank cellar, an extraordinary investment. Winemaker Justin Seidenfeld has worked with LaGarde Inox, a unique steel tank producer based in Quebec, to invent, design and produce special 6000 gallon square fermentation tanks. We’ve all seen the standard round steel tanks with dimpled cooling jackets. You may ask, why are these square tanks such an improvement? For one, they use space in the winery much more efficiently, and they have a variety of unique and highly beneficial features. As an example, autumn days are often quite warm in Sonoma County, so harvested grapes arriving from the vineyards may heat up and be at risk of spontaneous fermentation. These tanks were specified to provide more cool surface area to grapes, permitting the rapid cooling of grapes as they arrive from the vineyard – voila, reduced risk of spontaneous fermentation. A specially designed pump aperture ensures the pumped over wine covers the entire breadth of the tank, providing for better contact with the cap. Further, the shape delivers more surface area of juice to cap, providing for better extraction of colour and flavours, more softness and suppleness to the wine (as proven in blind tastings by the Rodney Strong winemaking team and owner Tom Klein). The special polishing process for the insides of the tanks, which was jointly developed by Justin and LaGarde’s engineering team, reduces water consumption for cleaning and sterilization by 50-70% (critical in drought-stricken California). Justin speaks with passion and excitement about the opportunities these tanks provide for him to enhance the quality of Rodney Strong wines, as well as the sustainability of the winery operations. It’s not surprising that this Rodney Strong innovation is now being adopted by numerous other highly reputable wineries in the U.S.

With his family background in farming, Tom Klein is strongly committed to sustainability in the vineyards and the cellar. Environmental protection is an integral part of the organization’s corporate values. Solar panels were installed as early as 2001, and along the way, Rodney Strong Vineyards has developed practices that allow them to be designated Fish-Friendly Farmers. Recently, they became Sonoma County’s first carbon neutral winery.

We’re fortunate that many Rodney Strong wines find their way through the Vintages program to the LCBO. Many of those wines were tasted during the visit, and I’ve included notes on a few of them below.

 

Rodney Strong ‘Chalk Hill’ Chardonnay 2014
Sonoma County $24.95 (LCBO# 275552) 14.5% alcohol

Notes of tropical fruit and butter, vanilla custard and hints of mineral grace the nose of this wine, produced from fruit grown on the unique volcanic white ash soil of this sub-appellation in the Russian River Valley. Dry, medium-full bodied, it’s rich and creamy in texture, yet retains freshness that is a perfect match for the lush flavours of lemon curd, sweet apple and pineapple. The mineral quality is subtly present on the palate, while nuances of warm baking spice linger on the tangy finish. Serve with pasta garnished with shrimp and scallops sautéed in olive oil and garlic.

 

Davis Bynum ‘Jane’s Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2014
Russian River Valley $ 39.95 (LCBO# 458893) 14.5% alcohol

Davis Bynum is recognized as the first winery to create, in 1973, a single vineyard Pinot Noir from Russian River Valley fruit. Rodney Strong maintains the tradition with this semi-transparent ruby gem. Notes of vanilla and sweet baking spice layer on aromas of ripe cherry/berry, complemented by earthy nuances. Dry, medium bodied, there’s a lovely freshness to the texture, well paired with the wealth of ripe red cherry and plum flavours. Delicate notes of warm spice, vanilla and cedar emerge and linger through the lengthy, tangy finish. Serve with a Provençal salad with duck confit.

Rodney Strong Pinot Noir 2014
Russian River Valley $25.95 (LCBO# 954834) 13.9% alcohol

Produced from a blend of fruit from the valley, this approachable wine offers lively aromas of red fruit, hints of earthy roast beetroot, and notions of spice and dried herbs. Dry, light-medium bodied, it’s bright with well-defined acidity and juicy with flavours of red cherry and plum, light hints of smoky oak and spice persisting through the vibrant finish. Serve with cedar-planked salmon.


Rodney Strong ‘Alexander Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Alexander Valley $28.30 (LCBO# 226944) 14.5% alcohol

Showing powerful fruit while retaining a fresh texture, this deep ruby Cabernet offers intense aromas and flavours of black berry, plum and dark chocolate-coated cherry mingling with nuances of dried herbs and earth, while the extended aging in French oak layers on notes of cedar and spice. Dry, full and powerful, the wine is crafted with balance, the supple yet perceptible tannins paired with fine acidity, framing lush ripe dark fruit. Subtle notes of toast and dark chocolate drift across the palate through the lengthy finish. Enjoy now with herbed roast lamb or cellar. (Susan Desjardins)

 

Rodney Strong ‘Symmetry’ Meritage 2012
Alexander Valley $70.95 (LCBO# 641142) 14.5% alcohol

Principally Cabernet Sauvignon, blended with Merlot and small amounts of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, each varietal is fermented separately with only the best wines used in this blend. Perfumed with floral notes and spice, offering intense fruit aromas, this is a robust well-structured wine designed for cellaring. The firm, defined tannins are a well-crafted foil for the big powerful flavours of cassis and blackberry. Luscious notes of dark chocolate-coated coffee bean and hints of spice and cedar add complexity, persisting through the lengthy dry finish. Cellar or decant the wine, to be served with rare prime rib. (Susan Desjardins)

 

 

 

E.&J. Gallo Winery Estates

We planned visits at two Gallo estates, and then made a quick stop at Louis M. Martini given its long history in the Napa Valley. Although the Gallo family has purchased a number of wineries and vineyards over the years, one of the themes that came through during our visits is their focus on retaining the unique character of the wines produced at each of the estates, while investing in the infrastructure and equipment that will honour and maintain the legacy of the original founders. E.&J. Gallo Winery remains a family business with goals of being a leader in the U.S. wine industry and a leading supplier of California wine internationally.

 

 

 

William Hill Estate Winery

After graduating with a degree in geology in his home state of Oklahoma, Bill Hill headed off to Europe. He fell in love with wine and headed to California on his return, to complete an MBA at Stanford, after which he began working in the Napa Valley. He arrived just after the 1976 Judgement of Paris had vaulted Napa Valley wines to global prominence. Given his interest in wines, he decided to purchase a 200-acre former cattle ranch on the bench lands of the Valley and in 1978, planted his first Chardonnay vines. Bill soon realized that the intense sun and heat on his property scorched the grapes; the initial vines were replaced with red Bordeaux varieties and for several years he sold his grapes to local wineries. In 1990, the winery was built and the first wines branded William Hill Estate Winery were created. Despite his success, Bill decided to sell the winery in 1992, and has since watched its evolution from his nearby home.

In 2007, the estate became a property of the Gallo family, with substantial investments made to upgrade the tasting room as well as the winery itself. Of the 200 acres, 125 are planted to vines, the bulk being Cabernet Sauvignon. William Hill wines are crafted with grapes from the estate on the Silverado Trail, as well as from fruit from vineyards in southern Napa, the Central and North Coasts.

The wines currently available at the LCBO include the Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 as well as the 2012 Chardonnay. Since then new 2013 vintage was tasted at the winery, and I expect these wines will be in a Vintages release in 2017, I’ve included my notes below. Tasted at the winery, but not available locally, were the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc, with lovely notes of white flowers and fine herbs, tropical fruit and citrus, wrapped in a vibrant texture; the lush ‘Bench Blend’ Chardonnay 2013, the creamy texture balanced with good acidity, infused with lovely flavours of pineapple, tree fruits and lemon vanilla custard; and the opulent ‘Benchland Series’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, a full-bodied powerhouse with robust dark fruit flavours layered on well-integrated oak and velvety tannins.

 

William Hill ‘Napa Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Napa Valley $44.95 (LCBO# 212951) 15.2% alcohol

Deep purple, this Cabernet is aged in French and American oak, a touch of Petite Syrah and Merlot giving added depth and complexity. Perfumed with aromas of ripe red fruit and juicy black berries, it hints at vanilla and sweet spice. Dry, full bodied, the wine displays perceptible yet supple tannins, well-integrated oak that offers notes of cinnamon toast and vanilla and a fresh texture. Bright, lively raspberry, black cherry and berry are fresh on the palate, rushing through the dry, toasty finish. Serve with beef short ribs.

 

William Hill ‘Bench Blend’ Chardonnay 2013
Napa Valley 14.9% alcohol

Blended from fruit from several vineyards, aged in French oak, this elegant Chardonnay offers lifted aromas of tree fruit, citrus and pineapple, vanilla custard infused with sweet spice. Dry, on the full side of medium bodied, the palate is lush with flavours of pear, tangy apple and lemon zest, underpinned with a refined backbone of acidity. The creamy texture and spice bring to mind creme brûlée, while delicate notions of white pepper add warmth to the long finish. Deftly balanced.

 

 

 

Louis M. Martini Estate Winery

There’s an incredible story behind this long-lived winery. The Martini family emigrated to the United States and worked as fishermen on the west coast in the early 20th century. From tasting local grapes, and then making wine for consumption by the family, young Louis M. Martini developed an interest in winemaking and eventually returned to Italy to study winemaking at the University of Alba in Piemonte. By the time he returned to the U.S., Prohibition had come into effect, making it difficult for him to pursue his passion. Nevertheless, since the family had grape holdings, they found ways to use their grapes for the production of sacramental wine, for medicinal use and in legal home winemaking kits.

As it became clear that prohibition was coming to an end in the early 1930s, the family moved its operations from the Central Valley to Sonoma, opening their new winery near St. Helena in 1933, one of the 5 original Napa wineries to be founded after Prohibition. Within 2 years, they had more than doubled production and sales, and in 1936, pioneered the use of temperature-controlled fermentation. The St. Helena site continues to be the base of their operations, and is where Louis M. Martini passed on responsibility for winemaking to his son Louis P. Martini in 1953. Louis P showed great creativity, and has been credited with creating the first wind fan used in the vineyards, with bottling the first single varietal wine – a Merlot (previously, wines were simply blends of the grapes in any given vineyard), and with first experimenting with fermentation in steel tanks. His son, Mike Martini took on responsibility for winemaking in 1974, and continued as winemaker until 2015, seeing the family business through the transition in 2002 to ownership by their friends, the Gallo family. The Martini winery offers an incredible legacy, including vineyards of bush vine Zinfandel planted in the 1880s.

 

Louis M. Martini ‘Napa Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2013
Napa Valley $32.95 (LCBO# 232371) 14.5% alcohol

Opaque ruby with violet highlights, this offers captivating aromas of spiced rose, raspberry and blackberry, with a dash of spice and cedar. Dry, robustly full bodied, the wine offers great fruit intensity balanced by a fresh texture and soft tannins. Long and dry on the finish, this is an approachable, well-crafted wine offering great value.

 

 

J Vineyards

J Vineyards is the legacy of Judy Jordan, who grew up in her family’s vineyards in the Alexander Valley. Determined to travel her own road, she studied geophysics at Stanford University and, in 1986, bought an old prune factory and some surrounding acreage with the idea of making sparkling wine. Her first method traditionelle wine was released in 1991. Due to her success with sparkling wines – and despite the naysayers – she decided to beginning making still wines- Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – the first of which was released in 1994.

Unfortunately, the great Russian River flood of 1995 completely destroyed her entire operation and inventory. Determined to re-establish her business, she purchased the current property in Sonoma County in 1996, completing the winery in 1999. The site includes a remarkable ‘tear drop’ shaped vineyard which includes 20 clones of Pinot Noir on a half acre, allowing the winemakers to experiment with blending. The site also includes the Cooper vineyard, planted with Pinot Gris, and the Backdoor vineyard, home to Pinotage. The balance of the 200 acre estate properties are spread throughout the Russian River Valley.

After years of successful production, and having sold grapes for many years to the Gallo family, Judy retired from the business and took advantage of her established relationship to sell J Vineyards to the Gallo family in 2015.

At J Vineyards, we tasted the Brut Rose, composed of 66% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir and 1% Pinot Meunier, a clean, fresh wine showing a delicate and persistent mousse and lovely subtle notes of red fruit. The Cuvée 20 is an almost equal blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, again with the 1% Pinot Meunier, offering nuances of butter pastry, fresh citrus and tree fruit, the characteristic creamy, lasting mousse, and a lovely touch of pithiness through the finish. The Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is composed from the fruit of 12 different clones from 4 vineyards. It’s a dry, mid-weight wine with classic cherry cola aromas and flavours complemented by attractive notes of warm spice and toast from French oak barrel aging.

 

The only wine tasted and currently available from the LCBO is:

J Vineyards Chardonnay 2013
Russian River Valley $31.75 (LCBO# 418236) 14.3% alcohol

Produced from estate grown fruit, aged in French oak (30% new) , this wine offers lovely tropical and tree fruit aromas, hints of citrus, sweet spice and vanilla. Dry, medium bodied, the creamy texture brings to mind vanilla custard, lemon curd with a dash of zest, and ripe tree fruit. The wine retains its freshness and offers a touch of warm spice through the flavourful finish. Serve with roast lemon rosemary chicken.

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If I only had $100, I would buy….wines from Argentina!

Posted by Julie

Thursday, January 19th, 2017
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This time last year, my husband and I spent a month in Buenos Aires, so when I saw that this release focused on Argentina, I was VERY excited to see what new wines would come into LCBO’s Vintages. Here are 3 wines from Mendoza (Argentina’s largest wine region) since it is the leader in quantity and quality of Malbec wines.

Three interesting facts Argentina & their wine:

Fact #1 – 80% of the country’s wine production is centered in this desert region located sandwiched between the Andes Mountain range (that borders Chile) and about 650 miles west of Buenos Aires. The region rarely sees challenges of insects, fungi or mould due to the high altitude and low humidity. And honestly, the daily temperatures ranged between 26C to 30C…that is certainly sounding pretty good right now as we suffer through a cold snap.

Fact #2 – In 2010, the Argentina government declared wine as Argentina’s national liquor. Tuck that one away for trivia night!

Fact #3 – Canada is the 3rd largest market for Argentina wines…behind England & the US.

As they say in Argentina ‘Salud’,

-Julie

 

If I only had $100, I would buy…
LCBO Vintages Release for Saturday January 21, 2017

 

Joseph Cattin Brut Rosé Crémant D’Alsace

Méthode Traditionnelle, AC, France
$19.95 (Vintages #264572)

Before I get into the Argentina feature, I must shine the spotlight on this sparkling wine.  Often found gracing the Vintages shelves, this beautiful pale cranberry coloured bubbly is always an elegant crowd-pleaser. For those of you who like sparkling wine and Rosé, it is a first class choice.

Made entirely from the Pinot Noir grapes, it’s characterised by cherry and currant flavours. It’s dry, creamy and refreshing. A perfect aperitif, celebration wine or even served with dessert – a strawberry cheesecake or fruit torte it could be magical. I’m definitely going to give it a try!  Now if I could only find juicy strawberries in January…

 

Colome Torrontes 2015

Calchaqui Valley, Salta, Argentina 
$15.95 (Vintages # 357913) 13.5% alcohol

Whenever I serve Torrontes wine to guests, people always ask what wine I am serving, where it comes from, where they can buy it. It is a great find! Often there are one or two Torrontes wines available in the Vintages section of the LCBO. While not common, Torrontes has become the signature white wine of Argentina.

Dry as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, there’s a little lanolin or honeyed taste that coats the palate while many soft citrus flavours explode. Mandarin oranges, lemons, apricots with lingering finishes of savory and grass.

It’s a great tapas wine: sardines, almonds, olives, chips or just on its own.

 

Fabre Montmayou Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2014 

Mendoza, Argentina  
$18.95 (Vintages # 261891) 14.5% alcohol

Although Christmas is long gone, that heavenly aroma of traditional fruit cake and Christmas pudding loaded with dark ripe dried fruit and nuts reminded me of how great wine aromas like this one can trigger memories & fill your senses.

Medium bodied and dry, dark red/blackberry flavours dance on the palate and your senses are filled with some divine vanilla in the aftertaste.  It’s a great on its own or with the usual grilled fare.  Absolutely. Delicious.

 

Zuccardi Q Malbec 2013

Uco Valley, Province of Mendoza, Argentina
$19.95 (Vintages #723478) 14% alcohol

This is a classic expression of Malbec. Deep and dark in colour, violet aromas tantalize and blueberry blackberries and savoury play on the palate. Tannins are soft and smooth with a little mocha and tar on the finish.

Last month, Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm spent a day at the new Zuccardi Winery and was WOWed by the setting, the vineyards,  the hospitality & of course…the wines.  “What impressed me is that the winery is using concrete tanks rather than the typical stainless tanks commonly used.  And there are only a few oak barrels in the cellar….the winemaking team at Zuccardi focuses on creating wines to bring out the natural flavours without the help of oak. That is incredible and the result is pure and outstanding.”

Uncork this red wine to enjoy with a herb encrusted pork tenderloin or Sunday roast beef. Guaranteed that there will be smiles around the table.

 

Susana Balbo Signature Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Uco Valley, Province of Mendoza, Argentina
$19.95 (Vintages #260919) 14% alcohol 

With over 20 years as a consultant winemaker for national and international wine companies, when Susana decided to build a winery, she did in style and with much panache.  In 1981, she was the first woman in Argentina to receive a degree in enology, and in 2012, she was recognized as one of the most influential women winemakers by The Drink Business Magazine.

This Cabernet Sauvignon is one charmer from start to finish. Full-bodied, ripe currants, herbal notes, tobacco, savoury – loads of complexity and backbone. This red wine overflows with character and strength.  Roasts or grill meats & vegetables would be fabulous.

 

Grand Total – $ 94.75

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Top tips for your next visit to The County

Posted by Debbie

Monday, March 21st, 2016
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Prince Edward County…if you haven’t been…Start the car! Make a point to book a family vacation, play hooky and spend a long weekend or make a day of it. The County awaits!  To compile the 100+ things to do, I asked the locals and tourist for their tips. I was overwhelmed by the response….and as I write this article, more recommendations are flooding my inbox…and I will add updates to keep this list up to date.

101 Things (or more) to do in Prince Edward County

pec map for FBI have to admit that I haven’t done ALL the things on this list, but certainly plan to jump in my car soon! For starters… I always recommend getting off Highway 401 and taking the Glenora Ferry. This free ferry ride is less than 10 minutes (check the departure schedule). Mark my words, this ride will reset your pace to ‘County time’. Breathe in the fresh air, enjoy being surrounded by water and get the welcoming 2 fingered wave from the ferry driver as you arrive.

Water all around

Be baffled by the geography of Lake on the Mountain. This unique body of water is one of Ontario’s natural wonders defying geographical and geological theories. Ponder its mystery over a drink at the Miller House Café and Brasserie…you can stay overnight here too!

Parks & beaches too

water-sandbanks-FOSPrince Edward County is synonymous for Sandbanks Provincial Park (photo at right), yet, there are many more beaches to discover: Wellington Beach and Park, North Beach Provincial Park, Westlake Beach. Switch from white sand to smooth pebbles and wander along Little Bluff Beach.

 

Old barns

Check out some great old barns at The Old ThirdClosson ChaseKarlo EstatesThe Grange of Prince Edward County and Hinterland Winery.

Traveling with Savvy Company

Places to stay – oh so many!

Clarmont Inn & Spa, Merrill Inn, The Drake Devonshire, Waring House, Angeline’s Inn, The Manse Boutique Inn. All of these places have gourmet restaurants too – book a reservation to make sure you get a spot!

Where to dine

Sample County wines at many of the restos including East & MainBlumen Garden & The Agarian

Visit Angeline’s Inn in Bloomfield & pick up some of their neat postcards with historical photos of The County in years gone by. While you are there, book your reservation for lunch or dinner at The Hubb Eatery & Lounge. You will definitely make delicious memories here!

Craving a pizza? There are several wineries that have a wood oven pizza place including Norman Hardie Winery – the perfect place for pizza and a Pinot Noir (try saying that fast!)

Spend Sunday morning at the Sunday Market at 106 Bridge or brunch made by Chef Michael Hoy. And in the afternoon, enjoy live jazz & al fresco dining on the patio at Huff Estates Winery.

Cuddle baby lambs & explore forest trails to walk off the amazing meal of farm to table cuisine enjoyed at Windhover County – a 140 year old Victorian Farm that has been transformed into a boutique inn.

Take a break from gourmet meals and make your way to the Lighthouse Restaurant at the Picton Harbour Inn – a popular local hot spot for breakfast – best sausages ‘n eggs, mile high pancakes &french toast in town.

…or nibble

Top places for treats & tea: The Vic Café, The Pink Lunch Pail Bakery, Tall Poppy Café, Miss Lily’s

Hands down the best old fashioned doughnuts are at Schroedter’s Farm Market Bakery & Cafe. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, a bowl of homemade soup&sandwiches will hit the spot. There are great gluten free goodies too.

Take a break from visiting wineries and stop in to visit the Pyramid Ferments Gut Hut. A wide variety of artisan made Sauerkrauts, Kimchis and Kombuchas – all using seasonal ingredients – are made in small batches.

Have you tried Maple Cheddar from Black River Cheese Factory?

Nightlife

Think there’s no nightlife in The County? Ha! You haven’t been to the movies at Mustang Drive-In on County Road 1.

Picton’s Main street has got it all. At The Regent Theatre, check out the list of movies, live musical performances & special talks as well as the Prince Edward County Jazz Festival. While you are there, snap a selfie with Sir John A Macdonald. His statue is located in front of the Armory.

Best view in town

The locals share this secret: enjoy the view of Picton from the Millenium Lookout – access it from County Road 22

Ice cream’s finest

Cave in…have ice cream at Slickers County Ice Cream in Bloomfield, stop in at Black River Cheese Factory or the locals hot spot is Cones & Shakes in Picton

Love museums?

Here is a ‘hit list’- Mariner’s Park Museum in South Bay, Rose House Museum in Waupoos, Wellington Historical Museum, Macauly Heritage Park and Ameliasburgh Pioneer Village

Wines, beers, ciders…and more

Pop into The County Canteen– Picton’s first brew pub – stop in for a flight of craft beers. The Acoustic Grill is a great place to see local bands.

Meet the dogs & owners at Three Dog Winery. In the summer they do yoga in the vineyard (the owners that is!) and XC ski parties too.

Ever been to a speakeasy? Click here to find where X marks the spot.

Pop the cork & taste some of the best Canadian-made sparkling wines at HinterlandHuff Estates, The GrangeBy Chadsey’s Cairns Lighthall Vineyards.

County Cider tasting June 2015Calling all cider lovers! You’ll want to hit these places for hard ciders made with County grown apples: The County Cider Co. (in photo at left), Bergeron Estate Winery & Cider House, and Clafeld Fruit

Head down at harvest and join in picking grapes at Sandbanks WineryHalf Moon Bay Winery Broken Stone – something that the entire family can do.

Chat with Bryan at Keint-He Winery.  He’ll help you pronounce that!

An open invitation to everyone! Brett French – the brewer at Barley Days Brewery – gives anyone reading this an invitation to drop by to sample his beers…ask for him and he will give you the skinny on how he makes each. And County Road Beer Co. just opened, so be sure to stop in here too!

Prince Edward County is known as a wine region, yet there is a distillery – 66 Gilead – that is neat place to visit & try their Canadian Pine Vodka, Loyalist Gin, rums & whiskies too.

Want some exercise? 

A local favorite bike ride is along Big Island Road following the beach on the northeast shore of Prince Edward County as well as along the Loyalist Parkway (Highway 33).

Drive or bike along the Barn Quilt Trail. There are over 100 barnswith painted quilts – neat!

Get running! The day after the annual Terroir Wine & Farmers Market Festival, get your shoes on to do the 10 km Terroir Run that winds through wineries along the way. The Wellington Women’s Half Marathon in June (complete with firemen handing out water along the route!) In October, The County Marathon is a great way to explore the backroads.

…and there is still more!

Lavender Farm by DT June 7 2015See a sea of purple at the Prince Edward County Lavender Farm. Tip: plan to visit the Lavender Festival or stop in when the plants are in bloom in mid to late June. Take photos in the gardens, learn how lavender is harvested & the oil is made. If you are lucky – stay at the B&B there too.

Play life size chess in the vineyard at Casa Dea Estates Winery.

The locals raved about –Birdhouse City with over 100 birdhouses of reproductions of historic buildings, whimsical designs & other recognizable structures.

A sign that will make you laugh as you drive by:Dead People’s Stuff Antiques.

Lose yourself flipping through neat books at Books & Company or the cool consignment shop – City Revival – on Main Street in Picton.

 

OenoGalleryToo many galleries to visit in one weekend! Some to make sure to visit: Oeno Gallery (photo at right courtesy of Oeno Gallery) Huff Estates Winery, Love Nest Studios. Follow the Arts Trail to discover incredible local artists along the way.

Crazy about airplanes? Lock-Sloy (aka Camp Picton) is one of Canada’s last intact 1940 British Commonwealth Air Training sites. Driving through here, it is easy to imagine what this place was like in the hay day.

If lighthouses are your ‘thing’, then make sure to visit Point Petre and South Bay Lighthouse – bring some local wine & cheese to have a picnic.

If vintage cars are your ‘thing’, then plan your trip to Prince Edward County to take in the Street Meet in early August. It is a blast reliving the past at this annual car show with over 200 classic cars come from all corners of Ontario and Quebec.

Karlo bridgeVisit North America’s largest dry stone bridge (in photo at right) at Karlo Estates – made by the winery owner & friends. A great place for a family photo or a picnic.

Sit on the porch at a B&B or your weekend cottage and read Geoff Heinrick’s book A Fool & Forty Acres all about the hard work of getting a vineyard planted in The County.

Take a cooking class at From the Farm. Tell Cynthia that we say hi!

Festivals galore

wine festivalFestivals that will give you a taste of The County: Maple in the County in March, then in May – Terroir where winemakers and artisan food producers are all under one roof. The Great Canadian Cheese Festival in June is a weekend of 100% Canadian artisan cheese (and wine and beer too).

TASTE – Community Grown in September (in photo at left) celebrates the harvest with local wines, ciders and farm fresh goodies. Join the fun at Wassail – a pre-Christmas festival where you sing for your drink. Check www.visitthecounty.ca for a comprehensive calendar.

Dining delight – Countylicious – twice a year, 8 restos offer a prix fixe culinary celebration for $30 or $35 plus grats & tax.

Red White & Blues festival at Rosehall Run features music in the vineyard.

PosterCool Collectibles

Collect a couple or all 8 of the cool County Posters with neat illustrations of all corners of Prince Edward County to remind you of the fun discoveries you had on your County getaway (photo attached –credit illustration by Marc Keelan-Bishop).

Sisters Jane Rutter & Susan Felton have brought pieces of history & heritage memorabilia back to life at the cool shop called Cannery Row.

Local produce abounds

In the summer, stop by one of many veggie stands – Laundry FarmsHagerman FarmsCherryvale Organic Farm & Vicki’s Veggies.

Stop in at Highline to grab a box of their gourmet mushrooms.

Only have time for a quick visit?

Go to the brand new The Local Store where all kinds of County treasures, artists & food stuffs are under one roof…in a heritage Loyalist barn.

Send us your tips on PEC!

As you can see, there are oodles of things to do in The County. While only 2 hours from Toronto or 3 hours from Ottawa, it is a place where you can really switch off! In fact, there are over 1000 places where you will probably lose cell phone reception.

Have fun as you discover Prince Edward County & email us with your favorite spots!
Debbie

 

Can’t get away?  Don’t worry….The County is coming to Ottawa!

Prep for your road trip by attending County in the Capital. Meet the makers from 20+ wineries, cideries, breweries &artisan food producers – all from The County. This is a unique opportunity to Taste & Buy your new favorites

County in the Capital picEvent Details:

Date: Wednesday April 20th
Time: 7 to 9pm
Place: Ottawa City Hall
Entry: Advance Tickets only: $55 (bring a friend for $5)
www.countycomes2ottawa.eventbrite.ca

This article was written by Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm & will be featured in Ottawa Life Magazine on May 22.

 

 

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Backroad stops in Prince Edward County

Posted by Susan

Monday, October 19th, 2015
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I was visiting a friend near Wellington in Prince Edward County recently and discovered that the farmhouse in which we stayed was walking distance to a couple of wineries.

Hubbs Creek VineyardWe wandered down the road and up the drive of Hubbs Creek Vineyard, into the modest winery building that houses a small, well-staffed tasting bar, behind which are the fermentation tanks, barrel, and wine-making premises. John Battista Calvieri, joint owner, winemaker and viticuluralist with brothers Nick and Joe, was front and centre, radiating a warm welcome and pride in this family undertaking.

Of the 5 wines on the chalkboard, 2 are already sold out. We tasted his Pinot Gris 2014, Chardonnay 2014, and the Pinot Noir 2012. Get in your car now, drive to the County, and get some of these amazing wines – Hubbs only produces 800-1000 cases annually.

The Calvieri family has been growing grapes in the County for about 15 years. A few years ago, John Battista, an Electron Microscopist with the University of Toronto, won an amateur winemaking award for a wine he crafted from his County grapes. That’s when he and his brothers decided it was time to stop selling their grapes and to start making their own wines.

Ask John Battista about the wines and his passion shines through, as he says, ‘what I really do here is out there, in the vineyards’. He is a purist, using only his own estate-grown grapes to produce outstanding wines that show the character of the estate and the region. ‘I go to Italy regularly,’ says John Battista. ‘My family is from there, after all. I like to talk to the winemakers there – the really good ones tell you, you have to focus on your vineyards, your fruit, your winemaking if you truly want to make the best wines.’ Lessons well learned, as you’ll discover when you taste his wines.

Stache on MainWhile you’re in Wellington, visit Stache on Main, a quaint piano bar by night and gallery by day featuring local artists. It’s owned and run by Gloria Schmed, a native of Brooklyn, New York who came of age during the civil rights movement in the U.S., her Swiss husband Karl, a lithographer, and their daughter Kyla, who was a driving force behind the new venture. Until recently, Gloria was managing the career of her elder daughter, Shakura S’aida, an accomplished blues singer. It’s a relaxing venue with live jazz, radiating the warmth and elegance of its owners. We wandered in on a Monday evening, and by 7:30 p.m., every chair was taken as the local piano player charmed the patrons, and the family personally welcomed locals and tourists alike with fine local wines, craft beer and light ‘snack-ity snacks.’

Try these Hubbs Creek Estate Wines:

Hubbs Creek Pinot Gris 2014

VQA Prince Edward County $21.95 12.5% alcohol

Made in the Alsatian style, this dry, light-medium bodied wine offers enticing aromas of pear, citrus, melon and mineral. Produced from the fruit of 15-year-old densely planted vines, it’s crisp and bright, showing roundness and purity in the ripe fruit flavours, and the classic mineral character of County wines. Well structured, vibrant in texture, the clean finish seems never-ending. 

Hubbs Creek Pinot Noir 2012

Hubbs Creek wine labelVQA Prince Edward County $31.95 12.0% alcohol

From the wonderfully warm 2012 vintage, this Burgundian-style wine is a great find for Pinot-philes. Its sister wine, the now sold-out ‘Reserve’, won a silver medal in the All-Canada Wine Championships. The nose offers subtle, complex notes of red berries, Morello cherry, earth, mineral and a whiff of spice. Dry, medium bodied and beautifully silky in texture, the notion of cinnamon toast on the palate is witness to twelve months aging in seasoned French oak. Tightly wrought, the wine displays intensity in the ripe red berry, cherry and currant flavours, and in the well-defined structure of subtle tannins and bright acidity. Finely crafted and elegant, finishing long and dry, you’ll enjoy sipping this Pinot with a mushroom and Brie tart, or with grilled steelhead trout.

Hubbs Creek Chardonnay 2014

VQA Prince Edward County $27.95 12.0% alcohol

Fresh from the bottling line, this wine still needs a bit of time to come together. Produced from the fruit of seven-year-old vines, 20% fermented in seasoned French oak, the wine offers notes of apple and citrus, hints of pear and toasted nut. Dry, medium bodied, its tangy and pithy, flavours of grapefruit, lemon-lime and green apple to the fore. The texture is zesty, the finish long and dry. Hold the bottles for a few weeks, then enjoy with halibut with a lemon-caper cream sauce, or with seafood pasta.

There is so much to see & do (and drink) in Prince Edward County…why not taste your way along the County roads one winery at a time.

Happy travels!
Susan

 

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Fancy a trip to The County?

Posted by Debbie

Friday, September 11th, 2015
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It is harvest time in wine country!  The Savvy Bus is heading to Prince Edward County on Saturday September 26 with our Savvy Sommeliers will be your tour guides. There is always a great buzz at this time of year, so why not join us to experience it first hand?

taste-2015-mainHop on board, sit back & relax in our luxury coach as we explore the backroads of Prince Edward County.  We will stop in Picton to take in TASTE – Community Grown, a farm-to-table festival where you will meet The County’s finest winemakers, chefs, brewers and farmers too – all under one roof in the historic Crystal Palace.  Sip & sample the great wines & craft beers from the region…and even buy bottles to bring back home.  Being in the height of harvest, there will be a bounty of farm fresh produce & gourmet goodies too.

The Savvy Bus is 50% sold out  –  Book your spot on the bus >>

TASTE – Community Grown

TasteThis is the region’s premier food & wine market, celebrating their culinary community from farm to table.  Chefs, winemakers, craft beer producers and farmers will all gathered in the same place on the same day.

You can shop till you drop too!  Take home fresh produce of the season, one-of-a-kind products from our local farmers & Ontario VQA wines directly from participating wineries.

Winery tour stop #1

traynorAfter taking in TASTE, we will head off to visit wineries. First stop – Traynor Family Vineyards, the newest in The County.  Mike Traynor purchased the property back in December 2008 when it was just a frozen cornfield but he could see his vision from that moment. Since then, family & friends have been invited to the vineyard to assist with some consuming tasks. With hard work…there are fun times too!  Traynor hosts a number of events such as Prunapolooza and Harvest Soiree’s, which have been a great way to allow people to become part of the wine making process and to leave with a  warm memory and wonderful experience from The County.

Mike’s parents are retired and have purchased a place nearby the vineyard so…they are always on the ready to lend a helpful hand. On weekends, often Mike’s wife Rebecca and son Quintin are seen around the vineyard too.

The winery opened it’s doors Labour Day weekend of 2014, and since then, Mike’s vision of creating a comfortable space where people can come visit and enjoy has become a reality!

Winery tour stop #2

Keint He winemakerNext stop will be at Keint-He Winery & Vineyards  a Burgundian inspired winery right here in Ontario that produces Pinot Noir with international character.

Unlike many grape producers, at Keint-he they like to think of their vineyards as ‘a habitat for the vines’. “Our Pinot grapes prosper in harmony with their environment, not in spite of it”, explains co-owner Bryan Rogers. They’ve applied the Burgundian model of viticulture to The County microclimate. That means that the 28 acres of vines that they’ve planted now, will never exceed 35 acres – this is high density planting and they believe in it.

Keint-he produces domestic wines that exhibit European minerality and acidity. The vines are lovingly raised in the limestone rich soils of our three distinct and unique vineyards. The grape growing & winemaking team at Keint-he only focuses on those grape varietals that most effectively showcase the terroir of the region. The result is award winning, terroir-based wines that reflect our standard for quality and the character of the region in which they were produced.

Dinner anyone?

Agrarian logoTo finish off our day, a light dinner will be provided by Bloomfield’s own Agrarian Cheesemarket & Speakeasy and served amongst the vines of Keint-he Winery.

Agrarian Chef, Neil Dowson, likes to takes advantage of the wonderful produce this area has to offer as he shares his modern spin on classic comfort food and the result is delicious! From the farm, dairy, bakery and winery right to your table. On your next trip to The County, be sure to stop at the Bistro to pull-up a chair, enjoy great food and soak up the rustic warmth of our dining room.

Agrarian on tapWhat is a Speakeasy you ask?

Well according to the dictionary it’s ‘a place where alcoholic drink was sold illicitly during Prohibition’ and it comes from speak + easy (in the sense: gently, quietly).  At the Agrarian’s Speakeasy it is a funky space featuring craft brews on tap, great ciders, wine and killer cocktails. Live music on Saturday evenings are just a few of the fun events this place has to offer. Food, drink, friends!

Savvy Bus Ticket info

Advance Booking Only – click here for tickets
Savvy Special: $149 (regular $165)
Price includes absolutely everything! Roundtrip transportation in a luxury coach, Sommelier guides, admission to TASTE, winery tours, dinner in the vineyard & good ol’ HST.

The Master Plan…

The Savvy Bus will depart downtown Ottawa at 8:30am from the Ottawa Marriott (100 Kent St). We will pick up passengers at the new BRIDGEHEAD Coffee Shop in the Pinecrest Mall & Starbucks at 1151 Division Street (near the 401) in Kingston.

Our plan is to arrive at TASTE by 11:30am.

At 3pm, the Savvy Bus will continue our road-trip with a drive through Picton, take the scenic route along the Loyalist Parkway to Traynor Vineyards for a tour & tasting, then onwards to Keint-he Winery where we will be treated to a dinner surrounded by vineyards. By 8pm, the coach will depart for Ottawa. 

The fun filled day (and a delicious one at that) should wrap up around 11pm when we return back to Ottawa.

Bonus!

A Savvy Sommelier will be on the coach with you offering wine tips, telling you stories about Prince Edward County & answering any ‘County’ questions you may have along the way.

Everyone is welcome to join us on this roadtrip! 

Order your tickets now for the Savvy Bus

 

 

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Savvy Roadtrip to Prince Edward County

Posted by Debbie

Monday, May 25th, 2015
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Hop on the Savvy Bus! We’re going to  The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on Saturday June 6. Ready for a delicious day of enjoying artisan cheeses from across Canada while also exploring Prince Edward County? We’re making it easy for you to enjoy an action-packed daytrip, with a roundtrip coach package from Ottawa & Kingston.

festival logoAt The Great Canadian Cheese Festival, you will quickly learn that Canadian cheese is so MUCH more than just cheddar! It will be a fun day meeting & learning from the dynamic people who put their heart & soul into crafting the cheeses. 

As great cheese goes with wine, ciders & craft beer, there will be several wineries, cideries & breweries from across Ontario at this year’s festival.

wapoos cider

And there is more!

After a cheese-laden afternoon, we will tour the back roads of The Country and take you to off the beaten track to a local cidery & a winery.  Here’s the inside scoop on what you’ll see at The County Cider Company, where they specialize in mouth-watering hard ciders.

wineandcrackersThree Dog Winery always tells visitors “we are the first winery you’ll get to when driving from Ottawa – we’re just over the bridge”. Enjoy the warm welcome from John Squaire and his wife Sacha, not to mention their lovely dogs Jersey, Rieki, and Bakkus.

They opened their doors in 2013 but have been planting and working the vines since 2003. It’s a great place to stop, sip & relax.

Later in the afternoon it’s back to the Crystal Palace for ‘Makers+Mongers’ dinner where you will nosh on gourmet appetizers, the best cheeseburgers on the planet & desserts that ooze cheese!

Makers+Mongers in Cheeseburger Paradise

Makers+MongersUnbelievably tasty cheeseburgers made by the grillmasters at Burger Revolution and Trade Craft Good Food using the exceptional beef from Enright Cattle Company where animals are raised on a natural, all-vegetable diet without the use of artificial hormones

Superb sausage by Seed To Sausage

Vegetarian options, too

Artisan appetizers and Canadian Cheese Grand Prix winners

Scrumptious desserts

PLUS Jimmy Buffett music performed live by Brian Neale:

On a diet? It’ll just have to wait! 


Advance Bookings Only

Early Birds… get the cheese! Register before May 30 $149 per person (regular $165)

Tickets still available for the Savvy Bus

This price includes: round-trip luxury coach transportation, admission to the Cheese Festival, tasting tours of County Cider Co & 3 Dog Winery, a ticket for Makers + Mongers dinner & good ‘ol HST.
Book Now!

The Master Plan… 

The Savvy Bus will depart downtown Ottawa at 8:30am from the Ottawa Marriot (100 Kent St). Then we will head downtown to pick up passengers at Ottawa’s Pinecrest Mall & Starbucks on Princess Street (near the 401) in Kingston.

Our plan is to arrive at the Cheese Festival by 11:30am. By 3pm, we will head off ‘on tour’ to visit County Cider Co & Three Dog Winery, then return for the ‘Makers+ Mongers’ dinner on the lawn of the festival. The coach will leave the Crystal Palace (in Picton) by 7pm & be back in the Ottawa area around 10 pm.  

Bonus – wine experts on board!

Savvy Sommelier will be on the coach with you offering wine tips, telling you stories about Prince Edward County & answering any ‘County’ questions you may have along the way.

Hope to see you on the bus

Everyone is welcome to join us on this Savvy Roadtrip to Prince Edward County & The Great Canadian Cheese Festival. Click here for tickets.

 

 

 

 

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Hop on the Savvy Bus to Terroir Festival & Prince Edward County

Posted by Amanda

Friday, April 24th, 2015
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Join our Savvy Sommeliers for a day discovering Prince Edward County on Saturday May 8.  The Savvy Bus is back by popular demand & we’re making it easy for you to enjoy a day out in The County with a Sommelier as your tour guide.

It’s a Road-trip!

terroir2011v4.cdrSit back & relax in our luxury coach as we explore the backroads of Prince Edward County.  We will stop in Picton to take in Terroir Wine & Farmers Market to discover all of the great wines & foods under one roof at the historic Crystal Palace. Many County wineries will introduce their new spring releases & pair their wines with locally made gourmet foods right before your eyes!

Your Savvy Bus Tour will continue as we visit The County’s only craft brewery – Barley Days Brewery for a taste of something different.  Then to top it all off, dinner will be served in the vineyard at Casa-Dea Estates.

It will be a fun day meeting the dynamic people who are involved in the growing reputation of ‘The County’.

Advance Booking Only

Savvy Special: $149 (regular $165)

Price includes absolutely everything!
– Roundtrip transportation in a luxury coach
– Sommelier guides
– Admission to Terroir Wine & Farmers Market
– Winery and brewery tours
– Dinner in the vineyard
– and…good ol’ HST

Only 10 spots left! Book your seat on the bus >>

The Master Plan…

5 team members standing-001The Savvy Bus will depart downtown Ottawa at 8am from the Ottawa Marriot (100 Kent St). We will pick up passengers at Starbucks in Pinecrest Mall & Starbucks on Princess Street (near the 401) in Kingston.

We are aiming to arrive at Terroir Wine & Farmers Market by 11:30am.

Check out this long list of participating vendors who will WOW you with their locally-produced food & wine. Local wineries include:

Broken Stone Winery
By Chadsey’s Cairns Winery & Vineyard
Casa-Dea Estates Winery
Closson Chase Winery
Devils Wishbone Winery
Half Moon Bay Winery
Harwood Estate Vineyards
Hillier Creek Estates
Huff Estates Winery
Karlo Estates
Keint-he Winery & Vineyards
Lacey Estates Winery
Lighthall Vineyards & Lighthall Cheese
Norman Hardie Winery & Vineyard
Rosehall Run Winery
Sandbanks Winery
Sugarbush Vineyards
Thirty Three Vines Winery

Learn while you Taste…

There will be 3 fun & informative sessions on during the day – including a blind wine tasting hosted by our own Debbie Trenholm as well as these seminars:

Everything You Need To Know About Growing Heirloom Tomatoes

If you have a small back yard garden or deck or  balcony… you can grow heirloom tomatoes. Vicki Emlaw will answer any questions you have and a selection of good old fashioned tasting tomato plants will be available for sale.

What Kind of Cool Are You?

Join The Cellar Sisters in an exploration of cool-climate Chardonnay and determine your “kind of cool” – crisp, fruity, rich or smooth. Blind taste four different PEC Chardonnays and select the one style which appeals to you most. Learn about each wine and receive a handout detailing all the unique Chardonnay available at Terroir for tasting and purchase so you can continue seeking out your “kind of cool” throughout the afternoon!

Compelled to Can

Bree Seeley advocates that preserving food is more than a twee hobby, it is a dynamic practice that powerfully shapes the identity of our regional cuisine. Preserving food allows cooks to fortify a commitment to Ontario terroir and asserts a role in supporting more sustainable food networks. The delicious results create unique contours in meals and hospitality. Join Bree as she outlines how enthusiasm for robust flavours gives way to a fulsome pantry and colourful year-round Ontario eating.

And the bus goes on…

Barley Days logoAt 2:30pm, we will roam the country roads bound for Barley Days Brewery for a tour & tasting, then onwards to Casa-Dea Estates where we will be treated to a dinner surrounded by vineyards. By 8:30pm, the coach will depart for Ottawa.

Paul Battliana Casa-DeaThis schedule gives you time to enjoy all of the activities at Terroir, see the picturesque countryside & discover The County’s only brewery followed by a delicious dinner with Casa-Dea’s winemaker Paul Battliana (in photo at left) who MacLeans Magazine has named as ‘One to Watch’ in Canada.

Bonus! A Savvy Sommelier will be on the coach with you offering wine tips, telling you stories about Prince Edward County & answering any ‘County’ questions you may have along the way.

 

Everyone is welcome to join us on this road-trip!
Book your seat on the bus >>

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101 Things to do in Prince Edward County

Posted by Debbie

Friday, October 3rd, 2014
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Where are you going this Long Weekend? We are always asked for travel tips. One destination we are frequently asked about is Prince Edward County.  Just a short 3 hour drive from Ottawa or 2 hours from Toronto, you can go for the day or a weekend getaway.

Stanners Vineyard vinesThis region, surrounded by water, is turning heads as Canada’s fastest growing wine region.  And it is not all about the wine either! The County has been named as Maclean’s Magazine’s Canada TOP 10 Places You’ve Got to See in 2014.

To help you discover all the neat things that are going on in The County, we got the Savvy Team together (over a glass of wine of course!) & jotted down 101 of our favorite (and there are still many more) things to do in Prince Edward County.

How far down the list can you get?  Do you know about other fun things to see & do in PEC that we can add to our list?

101 Things to Do in Prince Edward County Wine Country

 

1. Visit North America’s largest dry stone bridge at Karlo Estates.

2. Visit the Oeno Gallery at Huff Estates.

3. Do the Creepy Corn Maze (Oct).

4. Eat some freshly baked pizza at Norman Hardie’s.

5. Check out some great old barns at The Old Third, Closson Chase, Karlo Estates, The Grange of Prince Edward County and Hinterland Winery.

6. Sample amazing aperitif and dessert wines (and ports) – Sandbanks Winery, Hillier Creek, Keint-He Winery, Karlo Estates

wine_tasting_sparkling7. Taste some of the best Canadian-made sparkling wines at Hinterland, Huff Estates, The Grange, By Chadsey’s Cairns & Lighthall Vineyards.

8. Cheese Please!  All weekend long at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival (June).

9. Sample County wines at great local restos – East & Main, Blumen Garden & The Hubb.

10. Buy some artisan cheese to go with your wine at Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co.

11. Toronto’s Drake Hotel now has a County location – Drake Devonshire.  Stay over or go for dinner.

12. Indulge in poutine and milkshakes at the Dari Bar in Wellington.

13. Enjoy some great apple cider & lunch of lamb burgers The County County Cider.

14. Need some coffee after sampling wine? Miss Lily’s Café or the Bean Counter in Picton.

15. Find your favorite mantra pinned to the wall in the Cherry Valley General Store (hint: they’re all about slowing down to smell the roses!).

16. Stop by one of many veggie stands – Laundry Farms, Hagerman Farms, Cherryvale Organic Farm.

17. Sit on the porch at a B&B or your weekend cottage and read Geoff Heinrick’s book A Fool & Forty Acres.

18. Pop in to the Agrarian Cheese Market & Speakeasy, featuring craft brews on tap, great ciders, wine and killer cocktails with live music on Fridays & Saturdays.

19. Take a cooking class at From the Farm.

20. Dining delight – Countylicious – twice a year, 8 restos offer a prix fixe culinary celebration for $30 or $35 plus grats & tax.

21. Chat with Bryan at Keint-He Winery.  He’ll help you pronounce that!

22. Get on your bike & ride the backroads or along the Loyalist Parkway.

Terroir wine festival23. Take in Terroir Wine Festival at the Crystal Palace (May).

24. Plan for a beach day at Sandbanks Provincial Park.

25. Attend the PEC Jazz Festival (summer).

26. Discover new local music talent at The Acoustic Grill in Picton.

27. Slide down the dunes at West Lake.

28. Harvest grapes with Norman Hardie & celebrate afterwards with a pig roast & bbq (fall).

29. Take a billion pix of the gorgeous gardens at Closson Chase then indulge in their wines.

30. Spend a Sunday afternoon on the patio at Huff Estates Winery listening to live jazz.

31. Red White & Blues festival at Rosehall Run features music in the vineyard.

32. Meet the dogs & owners at Three Dog Winery.

33. Get lost on the back roads.

34. Hear James call his Chardonnay vines ‘Bella’ at Long Dog Winery.

35. Stock up on your picnic goodies at Chef Michael Hoy’s Weekend Market at 106 Bridge Street in Picton.

36. Best bacon & eggs in town are at Picton Harbour Inn.

Debbie at 2012 harvest37. Harvest parties at Sandbanks Winery, Half Moon Bay Winery & Broken Stone are fun for the entire family. Here I am (photo at right) picking grapes at last year’s harvest – boy that was hard work!

38. Book a room at The Manse, Newsroom Suites, The Inn at Huff Estates, Merrill Inn or the cottage at Angeline’s.

39. Take an early morning walk on the ‘secret’ beach (at the bottom of Cold Creek Road).

40. Ice cream at Slickers.

41. Go apple picking at Campbell’s Orchards.

42. Sparkling wine awaits at Hinterland Vineyards – and peach slushies for the kids.

43. Visit the old-time school house at the Ameliasburgh Historical Museum.

44. Drinks & Dinner at Merrill Inn –guaranteed delicious!

45. What the heck is Wassail?  Ask around about this pre-Christmas festival where you sing for your drink. Does this photo get you thinking about Christmas?

46. Do a County Chardonnay-a-thon trying every Chard you can find.  Be sure not to miss Lighthall, Stanners, Exultet, Rosehall, Karlo….is just a start.

maple_web_logo47. Pull a pint of Pumpkin Ale at Barley Days Brewing Co.

48. Maple in the County is a great spring getaway

49. All aboard!  Stop in at the red caboose at 33 Vines Winery – it is their tasting room.

50. Visit the Lavender Farm when the lavender is in full bloom (June).

51. Chat with Pat at Del-Gatto Estates…where he lives la dolce vita!

52. Kick back & chillax in a Muskoka chair with a glass of Sandbanks wine…in their vineyard (must trys – Cabernet Franc Reserve, Baco Noir, Marchel Foch).

53. Go antiquing.

artstrail-bluesign54. Follow the Arts Trail & meet incredible artists along the way.

55. In the summer, sip Rose wines around the Wine Trail – see how they all are different – different grapes used, hues of pink…and tastes!

56. Catch a movie at the Regent Theatre.

57. Visit the gallery at Small Pond Arts to see Milé Murtanovski’s paintings made with wine.

58. Unwind one of the few classic drive-in movie theatres in Ontario: Mustang Drive-In

59. Take a break for wine touring & leisurely shop on Bloomfield Main Street.

60. Six Barrels for Six Chefs at Huff Estates Winery (June).

61. Get your heirloom tomatoes and lots of other fresh from the farm veggies at Vicki’s Veggies

62. How about a visit to Dead Peoples Stuff? (antique store).

63. Enjoy heaven in a glass with a sip of VanAlstine White Port at Karlo Estates.

64. Lunch al fresco at Casa Dea Estates Winery, Huff Estates, The Grange or Norman Hardie Winery.

65. Go house hunting – it does not cost anything to dream!

66. It might be a wine region, yet there is a distillery – 66 Gilead – that is a must visit.  Especially for their Canadian Pine Vodka, Loyalist Gin, rums & whiskies too.

67. Watch the sunset at North Beach.

68. Enjoy incredible classical music in a small church during the Prince Edward County Music Festival (September)

69. Make annual family traditions by renting one of the many of the Sunrise cottages.

70. Drop by Highline mushrooms to buy fresh gourmet mushrooms.

71. Homemade donuts like my grandfather would make await at Schroedter’s Market on Hwy 62.

72. Spend an hour or two checking out City Revival – a high end consignment shop.

73. Be marvelled by Lake On The Mountain – it’s mystical up there.

Premium Goat Milk Cheddar, Back Forty Artisan Cheese Co. and Black River Cheese Company74. Stop at Black River Cheese Co in Milford to try…and buy…all kinds of cheese.  Savvy Cheese Sommelier, Vanessa Simmons recommends: Maple Cheddar & fresh curds (TIP – when you put curds in the fridge, they lose their squeak)

75. Where else can wines be as easy as Not Red, Almost Red and Not White? At Sugarbush Wines.

76. Ride the waves at North Beach Provincial Park.

77. Go strawberry, raspberry or blueberry picking on the roadside – they grow wild!

78. Grab some wine after your round of golf at Picton Golf Course, Barcovan Golf Club or Wellington On The Lake Golf Course.

79. Pop in & out of all of the cool shops along Picton Main Street.

80. Bird-watching!! And don’t miss BirdHouse City.

81. Take the scenic route. Drive along the Loyalist Parkway – Hwy 33.  Start in Kingston or Napanee and it will meander all the way to Trenton.

82. Order everything on the chalkboard at The Hubb Restaurant in Bloomfield.

83. TASTE! at the Crystal Palace (late September).

84. Have afternoon tea or a treat at Tall Poppy Café in Wellington.

85. The December Busy Hands Craft Sale at Books and Company & Miss Lily’s Café, hosted by Vicki’s Veggies – great sale for gifts.

86. Pop into Greer Road Grocer at Rosehall Run Winery for neat locally made gourmet goodies.

87. Play life size chess in the vineyard at Casa Dea Estates.

88. Stop for Italian thin crust pizza at Bergeron’s Estate Winery…and have a glass of wine too!

89. Take photos of Lake Ontario with morning fog near Moonlight on the Lake B&B.

90. Buy Ontario wine – and beer! – not available in the LCBO – shop directly at the wineries & brewery in Prince Edward County!

91. Get married!

92. Running and drinking…drinking and running during Terroir Run (June) or county Marathon (Oct).

93. Taste wine in a converted cheese factory that now houses Exultet Estates.

94. Rent a cottage on the water for a week and really live The County life.

95. Stop at a garage sale.

96. Take the free Glenora Ferry.

97. Take a workshop at The Red Barns, an artisan’s playground, featuring blown and stained glass, pottery, and iron art.

98. Visit Canada’s first off-grid winery Redtail Vineyard.

99. Browse the books and say hello to Miss Ella Vader, the new book mascot at Books & Company.

100. Spend a weekend at Claramount Inn & Spa. Heavenly.

101. Stop by Huff Estates and get your picture taken with the giant steel pinecones.

…and the list goes on!   Even more tips and calendar of events can be found on Prince Edward County’s tourism web site is prince-edward-county.com

 

Wherever you decide to go this Long Weekend…or anytime, why not work your way through this long list of things to see and do in Prince Edward County. It’s a beautiful place where you can make great memories of food, wine, great scenery – and more.  Call on our Savvy Sommeliers anytime on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) for tips of places to visit.

Enjoy Prince Edward County!
Debbie

 

 

 

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