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139 Things to do in Prince Edward County

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018
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We are always asked for travel tips. One destination in particular is Prince Edward County.  Just a short 3 hour drive from Ottawa or 2 hours from Toronto, it’s an easy daytrip or a weekend getaway.

This 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.  The town of Picton, Bloomfield, Milford, Wellington, Cherry Valley and all the points in between was hopping four years ago…and now there’s even more reasons to visit; our list is just a start.

Our 101 Things to Do in Prince Edward County was so popular that we’ve refreshed and updated for the second time.  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 our favorite things to do in Prince Edward County.  Then we had a contest on Instagram and Facebook asking for hidden gems in the area…and went to the best source – the locals who live there for their secret spots.  Here is the list for now….and if we missed something that needs to be included, don’t be shy….Let us know by email, Facebook or Instagram.

How far down the list can you get? 

Start the car…and get rolling!

1. Visit North America’s largest dry stone bridge at Karlo Estates. And if you’re lucky, you’ll meet Spencer – one of Karlo’s winemakers – in the vineyard or in the cellar. (Spencer with a glass of his soon-to-be-released Rose, shown in photo right) 

2. Visit the Oeno Gallery at Huff Estates. Be sure to take advantage of their sculpture celebration happening from May to October 1st.

3. Want your wine tours to have a more rustic feel? Check out the historic barns at The Old ThirdClosson ChaseKarlo EstatesThe Grange of Prince Edward County and Hinterland Winery.

4. Sample amazing aperitif and dessert wines (and ports) – Sandbanks WineryHillier CreekKeint-He WineryKarlo Estates

5. Taste some of the best Canadian-made sparkling wines at HinterlandHuff Estates , Rosehall Run, Casa-Dea Lighthall Vineyards.

6. Cheese Please!  All weekend long at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival (usually in June).

7. Sample County wines at great local restos – East & MainBlumen Garden & The Hubb.

8. Nothing goes “feta” with wine than cheese, so be sure to pop into Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co. for some artisanal cheese.

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

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

11. Enjoy some great apple cider & lunch of lamb burgers The County County Cider. (Owner, Jenifer Dean, serving her famous cider, in photo right

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

13. 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!).

14. Stop by one of many veggie stands – Laundry FarmsHagerman FarmsCherryvale Organic Farm.

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

16. 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.

17. Take a cooking class at From the Farm.

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

19. Get inspired by sustainable growing while you chat with Lee & Bryan at Keint-He Winery.  They’ll help you pronounce that!

20. Hop on your bike & ride the back roads while exploring Canadian history along the Loyalist Parkway.

21. Take in Terroir Wine Festival at the Crystal Palace (Early June).

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

23. Feel those rhythm mc-blues as you attend the PEC Jazz Festival (Mid August).

24. Discover new music talent from across North America at The Acoustic Grill in Picton.

25. Dive into the fantastic water sports at West Lake.

26. Take a billion pix of the gorgeous stain glass windows & hang out in the hammocks at Closson Chase ….then indulge in their wines.

27. Spend a Sunday afternoon on the patio at Huff Estates Winery listening to live musical talent. (Be sure to get a taste of their new wood-fired pizza! Photo on right)

28. And for more live music, enjoy some dinner-side entertainment at East & Main Bistro.

29. Red White & Blues festival at Rosehall Run features music in the vineyard. (September)

30. Meet the dogs & owners at Three Dog Winery. Or you can practice your downward dog at their built-in yoga studio

31. Get limbered up for the Full Moon Yoga Festival (August)

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

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

34. Start your day “sunny side up” with bacon & eggs at Picton Harbour Inn. Declared by Grapevine Magazing as the top breakfast joint in PEC.

35. Harvest parties at Sandbanks WineryHalf Moon Bay Winery Broken Stone are fun for the entire family.

36. Book a getaway room at The ManseNewsroom SuitesThe Inn at Huff EstatesMerrill Inn or the Cottage at Angeline’s.

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

38. Go apple picking at Campbell’s Orchards.

39. …or cool off with ice cream at Slickers.

40. Did you know that Hinterland Vineyards has peach slushies for the kids?

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

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

43. What the heck is Wassail?  Ask around about this pre-Christmas festival where you sing for your drink.

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

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

46. Maple in the County is a great spring weekend getaway

47. Check out the cideries that are popping up – 401 Cider Company, Apple Falls Cider, Clafeld Cider House, Kings Mill (in Stirling – near PEC), County Cider Co, and The Hard Way (in Bath – near Glenora Ferry)

48. Visit the Lavender Farm when the lavender is in full bloom (June/July) or take in the lavender from across The County at the Lavender Festival

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

50. What was that on the barn?  A Barn Quilt!  It’s a THING in The County & there are over a 100 of them.

51. They say one person’s trash is another’s treasure, so why not start your hunt at the many famous antique stores in Prince Edward County.

52. Discover a lost world of treasures at the County Spring and Fall Antique Show & Sale

53. Follow the Arts Trail & meet incredibly talented artists along the way.

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

55. Catch a movie at the Regent Theatre.

56. Visit the gallery at Small Pond Arts to see Milé Murtanovski’s paintings made with wine. The gallery recently reopened so be sure to make an appointment!

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

58. Take a break for wine touring & leisurely shop on Bloomfield or Wellington Main Streets.

59. Meet the newest cider maker in town – Ryan Monkman.  In his ‘spare time’ he works for 8…yes eight!…other cideries to help them make world class hard cider – the craft way.  In addition to working with others, his FieldBird Cider is truly unique.

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

61. Lunch al fresco at Casa Dea Estates Winery, Huff Estates or The Grange.

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

63. It might be a wine region, yet there is a distillery – Kinsip House of Fine Spirits – that is a must visit.  Especially for their Canadian Pine Vodka, Loyalist Gin, rums & whiskies too. (Photo on right) 

64. Watch the sunset over Hubbs Winery or let Batista – the winery owner – chat your ear off until the stars come out!

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

66. Make annual family traditions by renting one of the many of the Sunrise Cottages.

67. Drop by Highline Mushrooms to buy fresh gourmet mushrooms.

68. Homemade donuts like my grandfather would make await at Schroedter’s Market at Huff Corners – at Hwy 62.

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

70. Marvel at the Lake On The Mountain– it’s mystical up there. After you have figured out the geographic phenomena, head to the pub for a drink.

71. 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)

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

73. Did we already tell you about North Beach Provincial Park? You gotta go!

174. Go strawberry, raspberry or blueberry picking on the roadside – they grow wild! (July, August, September)

75. Grab some wine after your round of golf at Picton Golf CourseBarcovan Golf Club or Wellington On The Lake Golf Course.

76. Pop in & out of all of the cool shops along Picton Main Street. Treat yourself with a crepe too!

77. Bird-watching!! And don’t miss BirdHouse City. If you can’t get enough birds, be sure to check out the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. (Trails are open-all-year-round but banding begins August 21).

78. More bird business…count how many birds yo spot at the Prince Edward County Birding Festival (May)

79. 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.

80. Gorge on the farm fresh food at Seedlings (formerly The Hubb) in Bloomfield.

81. Get tickets to TASTE! (late September).

82. The December Busy Hands Craft Sale at Books and Company & Miss Lily’s Café – great sale for gifts.

83. Pop into Rosehall Run Winery for neat locally made gourmet goodies.

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

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

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

87. Buy Ontario wine…craft beer…and cider too!– not available in the LCBO – shop directly from the makers while you are in Prince Edward County

88. Get married!

89. Running and drinking…drinking and running during Terroir Run (June) or County Marathon (Registration in Sept).Terroir boots logo

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

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

92. Stop at a yard sale.

93. Take the Glenora Ferry – its free & runs every 15 mins (in the summer) or every 30 mins (in fall & winter)

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

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

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

97. Spend a weekend at Claramount Inn & Spa. H.E.A.V.E.N.L.Y.

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

99. Tired of wine tours? Satisfy your craft cravings with breweries like 555 Brewing Co. , Midtown Brewery, Prince Eddy’s and Barley Days.

100. Find out what all the buzz is about at Honey Pie Hives and Herbals!

101. Buy local ad support local farmers at the Wellington Farmer’s Market (July & August)

And there’s more …

So there is 101 Things  – all new from our last edition of this blog – but there is still some many events and activities to see and to in The County.  Let’s keep going….

102. Get belly laughs at The County’s Summer Comedy Series (May to Sept)

103. Let The County bring out your history buff with a Historic Walking Tour of Picton (July to Oct)

104. See The County from the coastline at Point Petre Wildlife Conservation Area, Sandbanks Dunes Beach, Little Bluff Conservation Area,

105. Winter is a great season for the County too so strap on those snow shoes or skies and head to one of the many trails in PEC.  For a longer trail try the Millennium Trail – a whole 49km to enjoy!

106. Have a getaway for Family Day at the Sandbanks Snow Fest and other family friendly activities

107. Get out on the water in a canoe, kayak or paddle board rented from Twin Birch Suites & Cottages or right at Sandbanks Provincial Park.

108. They say that we’ll spend 29.75% of our lives sitting so why not get outside with a hike in the County.

109. Try not to tip over while you cycle through the County’s best wineries on one of the many bike routes.

110. Put your feet up at The Ferg: a Scandinavian historic house.

111. Feel the beat at one of the areas famous music festivals like the Sandbanks Music Festival (September), Prince Edward County Chamber Music Festival (September), Prince Edward County Jazz Festival (August), PEC Fest (August) or County Pop (April).

112. Let the sweet and silvery voices take you to the south while to visit PEC’s Quinte’s Isle Bluegrass Celebration!

113. Park yourself down at a picnic table in the vineyards at Trail Estates or Traynor Family Vineyards

114. Stop and smell the roses at The County Blooms – The County’s Garden Show

115. Discover your artistic side at Art in the County (June/July) or at the old school Women’s Institute Art and Craft Sale

116. Show you national pride at Canada Day Celebrations in Wellington

117. Feel like royalty as you discover wineries in a horse drawn carriage with The County Carriage Co. (Photo on right)

118. Start practicing you lines to watch the Festival Players Theatre Company Productions

119. Get ready to rumble at the Consecon Soap Box Derby

120. Preserve the history of wine making, brewing, and more at the Ontario Fermentation Festival

121. Get your team together for the Wellington Lions Club Dragon Boat Festival (August)

122. It’s not Burning Man but you will get to camp in the woods and enjoy a line up of amazing performers for 4 whole days at the Country Jamboree (August)

123. Check out the cute pups and tractor pulls at the Picton Fair (September)

124. Get your bike in gear for the Gran Fondo (September). You can choose to a scenic ride of 50, 100 or 150 km.

125. Celebrate the harvest at Milford Fall Fair or Ameliasburgh Fall Fair

126. See The County with an artist’s eye at the PEC Studio Tour or the County Arts Fair

127. Support local at TASTE Community Grown (September) or The Makers Hand

128. Get into the Halloween spirit at Pumpkinfest (late September)

129. Come back at Christmas too for the Picton Santa Claus Parade

130. Ahoy! It’s time to set sail with the County Sailing Adventures. They can host private events or take you on a 2 or 3 hour cruises.

131. Find the plaque in Picton that explains the town’s claim to fame – where Sir John A. Macdonald grew up.

132. Be surrounded by creativity in the Rose Cottage Studio and Gifts in Picton.

133. Rest and recuperate at one of The Open Collaborative’s retreats. Choose from the “Run”, the “Activate”, the “Reset”, or the “harvest”.

134. Shop ‘til you drop at the Quinte Mall

135. Find your equilibrium on a Stand Up Paddleboard with Floating Lotus SUP

136. Get into the great outdoors with a luxury prospector tent at the Fronterra Farm Camp.

137. Find your perfect new outfit at Luna Boutique.

138. Be sure to veer off the highway and visit the newest winery in The County – Moranin Wines (just opened July 2018)

139. And last BUT definitely not the least…have breakfast, lunch and treats at Enid Grace Cafe in Wellington – go early because she makes only enough croissants, muffins, scones & cakes enough for the day.  Once your favorite treat is gone, you’ll have to wait til the next day.

 

 …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 – for a day trip, getaway or long weekend – why not work your way through this long list of things to see and do. 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!

 

 

 

 

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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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The Essence of Okanagan Wines

Posted by Susan

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009
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The 2009 Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival’s featured region was British Columbia – a treat for those of us who enjoy BC wines, yet rarely see the range of them here in Ontario.  The opening plenary, and a number of the trade seminars, provided a unique opportunity to meet and hear from the owners and winemakers, as well as to taste some of their most outstanding wines.

And then, to bring all these attributes together into fabulous wines, you have the “cultural mosaic” of owners and winemakers – pioneers Adolf Kruger and Anthony von Mandl, who left Europe for the BC interior; John Symes, one of the early pioneers who emigrated from New Zealand; Grant Stanley, a Canadian who spent many of his early years in New Zealand, only to return to the Okanagan to produce outstanding Pinot Noir; Lawrence Herder, who came back to the Similkameen after years of producing “big Cabs” in California; Tom di Bello, who has migrated up the coast from California ahead, as he said, of global warming; and the newer arrivals, Brooke Blair of Australia, who produced a Shiraz judged best in the world in 2004, her first vintage here; and Pascal Madevon, a Bordelais who moved his family to the Okanagan in 2002 and has become a Canadian citizen who produces outstanding Bordeaux-style blends.  The outstanding wines of BC are created from this mosaic of terroir, varietals and people, and are enhancing Canada’s reputation on the world wine stage.

BC wines ready to be enjoyed

BC wines ready to be enjoyed

As I listened to the various speakers, the concept of a mosaic came to mind.  In fact, many aspects of the wine industry can be characterized as ‘mosaics’.  The terroir includes a range of soil types, aspects, exposure, microclimates, elevation.  And this wide range of conditions facilitates growing many varietals, and ripening them in ways not found anywhere else in the world – from fully-ripened Cabernet Franc, to brawny tannic Merlot, to lean, crisp Riesling, Ehrenfelser or Gewurtztraminer with exquisite acidity.

 

 

 

These themes were threaded through the discussions and tastings, but an overarching theme was the “coming of age” of the BC wine industry.  As pointed out by the moderators, the industry has grown from 13 wineries and 1500 acres under cultivation in 1990 to now over 160 wineries with more than 9100 acres under cultivation.  Yet, BC is still a small player on the large wine world scene.  Quoting Scholefield, a well-known BC wine critic and one of the moderators, “Yellowtail began producing Pinot Gris two years ago, and now delivers approximately 1.5 million cases to the market.  This is the ENTIRE production of the BC wine industry.”  BC is a niche market that must be characterized by high quality wines, a unique story, and its incomparable terroir. 

Anthony von Mandl, owner of Mission Hill, said it is time to “take BC wines to the world.  As the Okanagan, as BC winemakers, we have to go to the world . . . There’s an enormous opportunity.”  There was a consensus that BC has what the world wants!

And speaking of the terroir, there were many discussions concerning the varying terroir from north to south in the Okanagan, and into the Similkameen valley.  According to Anthony Gismondi, wine critic and Editor-in-Chief of Wine Access magazine, his opinion is that while the rest of the world is attempting to move away from big, bold, powerhouse and overextracted wines, BC wines are naturally crisp, clean and fresh wines.  “Acidity is our friend” was an oft-quoted phrase, attributed to Grant Stanley of Quail’s Gate  

Howard Soon, a veteran of the industry and winemaker at Sandhill Winery, discussed his Pinot Gris.  “This is how we might describe BC white wine to the world:  lean, edgy, crisp, fresh.  Profoundly food friendly and appetizing.” 

As I listened to pioneers of the industry including Harry McWatters, who founded Sumac Ridge on a golf course; Anthony von Mandl, who founded Mission Hill and used to come to the Okangan for holidays during his childhood, as well as some of the more recent arrivals – Brooke Blair, Australian winemaker who immigrated to work at Jackson-Triggs and who made an immediate impression with her first Shiraz in 2004 winning best Shiraz in the world at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London. 

Anthony von Mandl (standing with mic), Harry McWatters (sitting at right with beard)

Anthony von Mandl - owner of Mission Hill Winery (standing), Harry McWatters - founder of Sumac Ridge Winery (sitting at right)

There was also a significant amount of discussion regarding the unique character of varietal wines made from Cabernet Franc in the Okanagan.  Not only has the Cab Franc in the southern Okanagan been shown to have unique terpenes (winespeak: flavor components), it continues to ripen through the summer heat (some other varietals shut down temporarily) and well into the late autumn.  It delivers wonderfully rich, intense wines with aromas of cocoa and herbs.  And Merlot, which is often soft and round in other regions, is the tannic backbone of the outstanding red Bordeaux style blend wine created by such wineries as Osoyoos Larose (wine name: Le Grand Vin), Mission Hill Winery (Quatrain), Black Hills Winery (Nota Bene), Herder Winery (Josephine), the newly named Road 13 Winery (Fifth Element).  Tom di Bello, of CedarCreek Estate explained, “The Okanagan is one of the best places in the world to grow Merlot.  The fruit is bright, vibrant, with more natural acidity.  And we’re getting mature tannins with less sugar because the fruit ripens sooner physiologically.”

 

 

 

To these pioneers – old and new – BC’s microclimates are critical.  Early pioneers planted with their palates, for instance, trying to grow Pinot Noir in the southern Okanagan.  But the ‘heartbreak grape’ lived up to its reputation, suffering through the long hot summers.  It was soon either ripped out or grafted over with more suitable varietals, such as Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Shiraz.  Brooke Blair’s award-winning Shiraz thrives in the deep sandy soil beside a sun-warmed rock formation on the 49th parallel.  And winemakers have learned that the aspect and soils of the Black Sage bench are uniquely different from those of the Golden Mile, although these sites sit across from each other in the narrow valley near Oliver. 

Lawrence Herder explained that the components of his red assemblage come from three very different parcels in the Similkameen Valley.  “We’re barely discovering what to plant where.  Each section of the valley is a specific microclimate.”

But along with this diversity, there is a unique defining character to the wine of the Okanagan.  You might call it the essence of these BC wines.  Both David Scholefield and Anthony Gismondi highlighted the characteristic earthiness and the unique flavors of Okanagan wines.   “I think you’ll find a dry herbal character somewhere in every single one of these wines.  Herbal, savory character . . . when you see that, think Okanagan,” said David.  “I encourage visitors to get out of their car, walk off the road and look at the sagebrush and everything that’s growing there . . . and smell.  That scent is somehow transposed into our wines,” said Anthony.    

While there was great focus on the wines, Howard Soon reminded us all that you have to remember to lift your head up when you’re in the vineyard – there is a breathtaking view to be had, whether you are near the lake just south of Kelowna, in some of the higher vineyards near Okanagan Falls, or on the Black Sage bench near Oliver.  “Don’t forget the unique scenery that is the Okanagan.” 

So, if you’re planning a trip to a wine region, consider a visit to the Okanagan.  Whether you visit this dynamic wine region after next years Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival in 2010 (tip: the Okanagan Spring Winefest occurs April 29-May 8, 2010), during the peak summer months, or in the fall (the Fall Winefest is September 30-October 10, 2010), there are a wide range of wineries to visit, all led by people passionate about their wines and excited to share the fruit of their vines with you.

Drop me a note if you’re planning a trip to the Okanagan, as I’d be happy to help you plan your winery visits. 

Here are a few of the many BC wines I discovered while in Vancouver last month:

  • CedarCreek Ehrenfelser
  • Wild Goose Stony Slope Riesling
  • Thornhaven Estates Gewurztraminer
  • Road 13 Old Vine Chenin Blanc
  • Quail’s Gate Family Reserve Pinot Noir
  • Nk’Mip Qwam Qwmt Merlot
  • Burrowing Owl Cabernet Franc
  • Jackson-Triggs Sunrock Vineyard Shiraz
  • Herder Winery Josephine
  • Mission Hill Quatrain
  • Osoyoos Larose Le Grand Vin

 Cheers & Enjoy,

 Susan

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Menu Matching – which wines to serve?

Posted by Gina

Monday, December 29th, 2008
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Gina –
From your bio, I see that you enjoy pairing wine with food.  Your help would be greatly appreciated to guide me in selecting wines for each course for my upcoming dinner party.

 

Appetizer: Endive boats with mango, blue cheese, candied pecans, warmed in oven.  Should I serve a Sauvignon Blanc? or perhaps a Viognier?

 

Soup Course: Butternut squash, apple, and smoked cheddar soup.  I have read alot about Quebec’s cider wine – what would you like of serving it with the soup?

 

Pasta Course: Homemade gnocchi.  My first inclination would be to serve a Valpolicella – what do you think?

 

Main Course: Grilled steak, creamy white beans, sauted green beans.  Do you have a favorite Australian Shiraz? or Cab Sauvignon to recommend?

 

Dessert Course: Flourless chocolate cake – I have read that a red Zinfandel from California is a good match with chocolate cake.  What do you think about this?

Thanks so much,
– MARY

Hi Mary,
Your menu sounds delicious and I like the direction you are going with your wine pairings.  With respect to your first wine, have you considered a sparkling?  They pair wonderfully with all kinds of foods, stimulate the palate for the dishes to come and make your guests feel special.  A dry cava from Spain or prosecco from Italy would be delicious.

I love soups!  Your Cider wine may be a good match at this point if it’s not too sweet.  A lightly oaked Chardonnay is another suggestion (but again, like sweetness in the cider, too much oak could steal the show from your lovely soup.)

Moving on…I really like your idea of a Valpolicella with the gnocchi and for the main course of grilled steaks, definitely uncork a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.

For the dessert finale, if your flourless chocolate cake is like the recipe I use, it is on the wonderfully, richer side.  A red Zinfandel from California does work well with chocolate cake, yet with your menu, it may not be as much of a statement after the Cabernet Sauvignon. If your budget allows, perhaps you might like to try an Italian Amarone red wine (one of my favourites!) or a bottle of Spanish Madeira (lightly sweet).

Enjoy your evening!  If you get a chance perhaps you could let me know what wines you selected and what your dinner guests thought of the pairing.

Cheers!
-Gina

 

Hi Gina,
Thanks very much for your help! It was great to get such personalized assitance. I took your suggestion to go with a Sparkling wine with the appetizers, and it was perfect. This was a very nice set up for the rest of the night. I also went with a Chardonnay with the soup as you suggested, which complimented wonderfully.  As I anticipated, the Valpolicella went great with the gnocci, as did the Cab Sauv with the steaks.

 

The only thing that didn’t go “perfectly”, was the dessert. The LCBO that I went to didn’t have any Amarone, so I went with a bottle of port that I had in my house already. It could be just my tastebuds… I don’t particularly love port. In any case, all in all it was a great  night and my guests appreciated my efforts!

 

Thanks so much, I hope that I may ask your assistance in the future. I also find your website very useful.

 

Thanks again,
– MARY

 

Feel free to email the Savvy Team with your menu and we will offer you suggestions of wines to serve.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Buying The Right Wine: 5 Easy Steps

Posted by Wayne

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008
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Some questions I think you should answer BEFORE you walk into the store (in this order of importance):

1. WHO is the wine for and what is their flavour and texture preference?
The character of the person you are buying the wine for is very important. Not everyone is impressed by high end expensive vintages that might have a complex flavour/texture profile that intimidates them because they can’t relax with the wine and just enjoy whatever it has to offer. Often, simplicity, purity and elegance prevail. Ask yourself if the recipient likes sweetness (fruit) flavours. Do they enjoy liquor over beer as an alternative drink? Do they smoke? Do they like light or heavy textured foods? Are they a person who likes to savour their food and their drink after they have eaten or drunk them?

By answering these and other questions about what they like to drink and eat, you can discover if you should be looking for light, sweet white wine with high thirst quenching acidity or a fuller-bodied red wine with a balance of fruit, acid, tannins and good alcohol that requires reflection and a strong finish. Or perhaps, a heavy, white Chardonnay or lighter, red Pinot Noir to have a combination of all these characteristics. They will appreciate your choice without knowing it was their choice.

2. WHAT event are you shopping for?
The central consideration here is: How private or public is the event and will it include food? If you are choosing wine with the intent of consuming it cocktail-style, then  I recommend that you choose a New World wine. That is what Australian Shiraz, California Zinfandel, Argentinian Malbec, South African Meritage, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc… are very good at being wines that are meant to be enjoyed as wine drinks, like a cocktail. That does not mean they do not match with food well, it just means that New World wines tend to favour drinking rather than food matching and show best when they are part of ‘Happy Hour’.

If food is intended to be an integral part of the event, then I suggest to choose an Old World Wine. This is not to say that Old World wines do not drink well alone, but Old World Winemaking has a penchant for the concept of ‘terroir’ which brings with it all the regional richness of soil, weather, harvesting and winemaking that express the culture of not only local wine, but local food as well. Most Old World wines were meant at some point to be married with food, both by nature and by the people who make and consume them. Not often do you drink wine in Europe without some sort of food accompaniment. The amount and variety and intensity of the wine you choose should take into consideration the ambience it will be served in, with or without food as a partner.

3. WHERE will we be enjoying this wine?
When you have answered this question you will have accommodated the ideas of: the temperature of the wine, how it will be opened, displayed and stored, its portability, how it will be served and by whom, what quantity will show a discretionary purchase (a wine gift of a case of wine that can never be drunk as opposed to a one bottle purchase of quality wine suggests something about expectation and the anxiety to ‘cover all the bases’), how it will be opened (cork, screw cap…) as this might contribute to tradition or ambience, how long the event will transpire… and what may follow?

You might even want to think how you might want to personalize the wine beyond matching it with the event, like ribbons, wrapping, sticker messages, personalized gifts… jewelry wrapped around the bottleneck.

 

4. What SENSE can I make of the LAYOUT and RESOURCES of the store where I am going to buy the wine to help me find the right wine? I am looking for a CHARACTER here so what STYLE will have this character?

Get familiar with how the store displays its wines. Is it by country? Price? Wine region? Varietal? Are there sale bins? Is there a Staff picks section? A Vintage section? Reds here? Whites over there? Dessert wines? Is there anyone to assist me in finding the character profile of the wine I am looking for that I have firmly entrenched in my mind by having confident answers to questions 1,2,3 above. I know what I need because I am buying wine for a person who has a particular taste preference and it is going to be served at this event. I AM DOING THE MATCHING OF CHARACTERS AND THE SELECTION OF WINE!

It isn’t necessary to find the perfect wine because there is more than one “perfect” wine so a “perfect” choice is a given.  My approach is to:
#1-Navigate the landscape of the store.
#2-Narrow the choices.
#3-Select a manageable number of finalists (I recommend tops 3 wines).
#4- READ the front and back labels of the bottles even if it is in another language and you need to ask a store clerk what it means (because even if you don’t know what it means this time, you will next time after you have tasted the wine!).
#5- Fit the drinking preferences of the person this wine is for with the style of wine described on each of the labels of your finalists off the shelf.
#6- Buy the one you think they will like. You’ll probably like it too! Especially when they do.

 

 

5.What is MY price point?
Make this your last, not your first consideration. And keep it flexible in a range you are willing to pay. NOT ALL GOOD WINE COSTS A LOT OF MONEY! Nor is all sale wine good! These are two very good reasons to give price a lesser priority than numbers 1 through 4 above. That is not to say price should not be a consideration at all. Just remember this:

 “A wine of character will help you find a good price, but a good price won’t help you find a wine with character.”

December 9, 2008

 

How do you choose wine? Write me. Share your methods. I love to discover new ways to find good wine!

Cheers!
Wayne Walker

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White or red?

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
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White or red? I suggest that when you are trying to decide which wine to serve, forget the old rule of thumb that you match to your meat.

 

Think of the fish, chicken and meat as the canvas to determine the weight of your wine. For example:

·         shrimp, fish filet, steamed mussels = light bodied wine

·         grilled vegetables, veal, tuna steak & chicken = medium bodied wines

·         steak, lamb, stew or roast = medium to full bodied wines

 

What matters most is the flavour. Make your wine selection based on the spices, marinade or sauce—choose the wine that will complement the flavours to make your meal sing.

 

Cheers & Enjoy!

 

Debbie

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Matching wine with egg dishes

Posted by Debbie

Sunday, October 26th, 2008
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Matching wine with egg dishes is always a sommelier’s challenge!

Remember to be gentle — match a quiche or soufflé with a light-bodied Pinot Gris or unoaked Chardonnay to avoid overpowering the delicate flavours of your egg dish.

Cheers & Enjoy!

Debbie

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