Prince Edward County is one of those magical unicorn destinations that seems to have it all: amazing wineries, local grassroots food purveyors, a gorgeous waterfront on all sides, and it’s only 2 hours from Toronto.
Now is the perfect time to plan your weekend getaway to the County to take advantage of some hot days and cooler evenings during the wine harvest in September.
The 13-room boutique hotel outpost of the Drake empire is worth a look in, whether or not you decide to stay the night. It’s the perfect combination of cottage country rustic and urban chic. In true Drake style, everything is well executed, from the restaurant to the décor, the live music to the rooms.
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The Agrarian Market has a wonderful array of local meats, cheeses, seasonal produce, freshly baked goods, preserves, seafood and prepared foods like quiches, soups, sandwiches, and salads. Or make it easy and pick up a Picnic For Two.
Be sure to pick up a bottle of naturally fermented “gut shots,” or one of the delicious sauerkrauts or kimchis from Pyramid Ferments to start your day off right. Their County Kimchi gut shots taste just like the perfect Caesar mix but it’s super healthy stuff made with local ingredients.
Cordon Bleu trained pastry chef Rebecca Brown runs this quaint little shop in Picton. Everything from fresh-basked donuts to Belgian chocolates she makes from scratch with locally sourced, organic ingredients. She prefers maple syrup or honey to high fructose corn syrup so you can feel a little less guilty about your indulgence. Try the apple pie.
A trip to PEC wouldn’t be complete without spending an hour or two at the legendary Sandbanks Provincial Park. It’s probably the closest you can get to the Caribbean in Canada. Bring sunscreen and enjoy your brunchtime picnic by the water.
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Head to Three Dog Winery first for wine tasting and lunch. Named for the owners’ three rescue dogs when they first bought the property as a space for the dogs to run, this winery still maintains its small-town grassroots feel. The Dog House White ($13.95) and Dog House Red (15.95) are insanely affordable and delicious. But if you can get your hands on the Malcolm vineyard pinot noir ($29.95, this one’s actually named after a cat), do it.
They have their own outdoor pizza oven and a sunny back deck to relax, so make your order and sit and soak up your surroundings with a glass of your favourite. As if all that wasn’t enough, they’re building a yoga studio overlooking the vines so you can sip and Om to your heart’s content.
Next up it’s time for Karlo Estates and their adorable bridge beyond the vineyards that looks like you’ve stepped into the Shire in Lord of the Rings. If you’re a fan of Malbec and Carménère, this is where you need to be this September as they’re doing their first harvest of these grapes this year (the only spot in the region that’s cultivating them). Make sure you try the fortified wine before you go.
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Wind down your day with an atmospheric dinner at East and Main in Wellington. The menu does creative twists on comfort foods really well, with as many locally sourced ingredients as possible. Try the charcuterie board to start with house-made paté, then finish with the potted cheese cake which is made with goat cheese and topped with a seasonal berry compote and Graham crumble.
Today is a day for sleeping in, so take your time with breakfast and spend a lazy morning exploring some of PEC’s quirky local shops. Dead People’s Stuff, an antiques store, is worth a visit for the name alone. Check out Gilbert and Lighthall for everything home-related, and KOKITO is great for Canadian handmade gifts.
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This young, family-owned winery has a youthful vibe and a penchant for experimentation that’s worth checking out. They focus on small-batch single-vineyard wines they lovingly refer to as “craft wines.” Each of their wines attempts to bring out the best of the terroir of that vineyard which makes them wonderfully distinct from each other.
Our NEW Korean Beef Taco! These bad boys were FLYING out of the kitchen today! Thank you, @lalalalaurav for being our Guinea + giving us helpful feedback! . . . #PEC #PrinceEdwardCounty #TraynorFamilyVineyard #GuaposCantina #WineAndTacos #WineCountry #Winery #Tacoria #PECEats #Tacos #LocallyOwned #Streetfood #TACOunty #GuaposTacos #GlutenFree #TacoTent #KoreanBeef #TheCounty #CountyUp
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A brand new addition to the PEC food scene, Guapo’s Cantina is a must for lunch or a quick snack between wine tastings. They do mouthwatering Latin street food like tacos with a range of fillings (everything from beef brisket to chorizo) and tempting sides like yuca frites and a divine roasted corn salad. The best thing is they’re located on the Traynor Vineyard so you can grab a wine (or a wine cocktail) with your lunch.
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Keint-He is home to some of the oldest vines in the region, and their expertise shows through their spectacular award-winning bottles. Try the Queenston Road Pinot Noir (2012) or, if you’re a white wine fan, the Voyageur Gewürztraminer (2015). Make sure to spend some time on their idyllic patio overlooking the vines.
Don’t bother figuring out designated drivers for your wine-hopping weekend. Check out Foley Bus Lines instead, particularly if you’re travelling as a group.
If you love all things local you’ll want to plan your weekend around PEC’s TASTE Community Grown festival at the Crystal Palace on Saturday, September 24. You’ll get to experience all the best restaurants, food purveyors, wineries and cideries all in one place.
Better yet, we’re giving away 2 tickets to the festival! To enter, ‘like’ Daily Hive Toronto on Facebook and comment tagging @PECWines and #tastePEC and who you want to go with!
The winner will be contacted on September 16th.