Perfect Weekends: Saints & Sinners

Grey, Bruce and Simcoe Counties are experiencing a beverage renaissance. Once a hotbed for bootleggers during Prohibition, the area now boasts several thriving drink producers. VQA wineries, craft breweries and heritage cideries are using locally-grown grapes, hops and apples to produce some seriously delicious bevvies — and the area is thriving as a result. New restaurants, experiences and events are popping up through out the region.  Feast of Fields with beer For a the serious sipper, there’s no better way to explore the region than with the Saints & Sinner Trail passport. This handy map pin points all the must-see producers, as well as local restaurants and lookouts. You can hop skip between cider tastings, cheese platters and waterfall picnics with just one handy guide.
Here’s what our Perfect Weekend along the Saints & Sinners Trail looks like:
  1. We’d start our trip mid-afternoon on a Friday and head north via GO train to Barrie, that way we beat the traffic.  When in town, pick up a car by the train station and head for a flight at Barmstormer Brewing, designated driver in tow. Our favorite (right now!) is the Billy Bishop Brown — it’s hoppy with notes of toffee — but we’re looking forward to their Tropical Saison, a collaboration with Cameron’s Brewery.
  2.  Next, we’d head west along the 26 to Collingwood for some grub. That means stopping at Northwinds Brewhouse (Bonus: they’re Feast On™ Certified!) for at least two orders of beer pretzels — hand rolled and served with cheese sauce — and the Georgian Bay fish and chips plate. We’d pair that with a pint of their featured cask ale, only available on Fridays.
  3. We spend the night at the Blue Mountain Resort because breakfast at The Pottery Restaurant might just be the area’s best kept secret. We love the trout benny with creamy hollandaise and smoked local trout — plus their home fries are some of the crispiest we’ve ever seen. It’s exactly what we need before hitting the road again for a day of sipping and savouring!
  4. After breakfast, we’d head towards Ravenna. The cornerstone of this tiny (and we mean tiny!) town is the Ravenna General Store where owner Roy sells butter tarts, meat pies, and le piece de la resistance, slushies made with Meredith’s Ginger Syrup. That zing, it’s better than coffee.
  5. Just outside Ravenna is our first sipping stop of the day. Georgian Hills Vineyards is a lovely place to sit, nibble some local cheese and taste your way through some very intriguing wines. They’ve become somewhat specialized in cool climate wine making and their Viva Vidal! sparkling is an excellent example.
  6. After taking in the sweeping views at Georgian Hills, we’d head south to Beaver Valley Cidery for a taste of their Bumbleberry Cider and in colder months, the Cranberry Cider which is available for a limited time.  IMG_20160528_200212
  7. By now, we’re starting to want lunch. For that, we’d head north-west to Owen Sound. It’s a beautiful drive, so take time to meander and enjoy to Beaver Valley as it goes by. Once in town, head for Casero’s Kitchen Table for smoked beet tacos and street corn. They’re Feast On™ Certified and they’ve got rotating taps from some of the area brewer’s you may not get a chance to visit — like MacLean’s Ales or Side Launch Brewing — so be sure to grab a taste!
  8. Bellies full, we’d then try our best to work some of all that indulgence off at Inglis Falls. There’s a short hike the takes you through undisturbed forest if you’re keen, or you can explore the catwalks along the falls.  IMG_20160529_131514
  9. We’d then head to Annan for a visit to Coffin Ridge Winery.  They make a lovely ‘Resurrection Rosé’ but it’s their cider we’re after. The tasting room has one-off-experiments that are always a hit. On last visit, we had a gnarly heritage apple cider we couldn’t help but take home in a growler and a little bird told us they’re currently pouring an Ontario strawberry & wild mint cider!
  10. Next, we’d head back east to Meaford for an order (or two!) of perogies from Perogie Palace. Bonus: rumour has it the Duxbury Cider Company is opening a tasting room in town this autumn.
  11. For dinner, we’d head to Thornbury. Take some time to explore the town before heading into Bruce Wine Bar for dinner and live music. There’s a great selection of local cheeses at The Cheese Gallery, where you’ll also find some of that delicious locally smoked trout from breakfast to take home with you. A stroll towards the water reveals the Pom Pom Treat Hut where they make popsicles with local fruit. 
  12. The next morning, we’d pack up and head home along the 13, making sure to pit-stop at Creemore Springs. Take a load off in their beer garden and be sure to try something from their Mad & Noisy series.

Use the Saints & Sinners: Bootleggers’ Run map to find your way around Grey, Bruce and Simcoe counties to tour farms, enjoy tastings, pairings or full meals, and pick up a huge variety of beverages to bring home.

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