Backroad stops in Prince Edward County

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!


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