It’s true, we may have the best jobs in the world.A�
On a daily basis, our team gets to work with chefs, farmers, winemakers, media and more on making sure Ontario is putting its best foot forward for hungry visitors.A� Part of this process is ensuring that we get out there and experience what the Big-Oh has on offer.
Last weekend, we did just that in Prince Edward County–affectionately known as ‘The County’.A� This 1,050 square kilometer expanse has a population just over 22,000, and is home to over 35 wineries and countless edible experiences, including wickedly good restaurants and charming farms serving up heirloom fare.
Our guides were the team at Sandbanks Vacations. They picked us up in a decked-out limo-bus that included mini-fridges, champagne flutes and some much needed air conditioning.A� As we wove our way along some of the 800 kilometres of pristine shorelines in the region, we chatted with Heather about The County’s relationship with wine and why it has developed.
We learned that because of the northern climate, winemakers have to bury their vines to over-winter and as a result, none of the vineyards can create the huge volumes you find in Niagara.A� We learned about the community, about the successes and struggles, and their perseverance and fierce commitment to producing all-County wines.
The first stop was Lighthall Vineyards–a small, low volume winery started in 2009.A� The tasting bar is inside the production area, where visitors can enjoy the complete experience of the winery production environment.A� Glenn, the winemaker, wore his passion on his sleeve–evident as he poured us samples of his chardonnay.A� As his year-old pup Bacon looked on, we sampled another delicious creation: MutA�.A� This late-harvest botrytis affected, fermented fortified wine is made with Vidal juice and aged in oak barrels.A� It’s sweet, with an unexpected hint of acid.A� Perfect with County cheese!
We slowly made our way to Half Moon Bay Winery on the far end of the island.A�A�Brian Mitchell & Margaret Kormann planted their first Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in the spring of 2005, and are now also producing Chardonnay, Riesling and Merlot.A� They don’t use synthetic pesticides or fertilizers to grow their grapes.A� The fresh and bright wines we sampled in their brand new tasting barn paired beautifully with some of the Canadian cheese now being distributed by Fifth Town Cheese.
We stopped for lunch at Milford Bistro, recently turned over to Chef Sebastian Schwab.A� Surrounded by farms, wineries and artisans–it’s easy to see why Milford Bistro is an exceptional spot to enjoy lunch.A� Between the fresh County greens, feta croutons, pulled pork, smoked mac n’ cheese, sticky toffee pudding and local strawberry sorbet–we were dining in style!
Heather next took us out to the lovely vineyards of Long Dog Winery.A� After a jaunt amongst the beautiful rows of Gamay grapes, soaking up the sun, we headed for the tasting room. The team’s favorite was the 2009 Pinot Gris, a spicy, Alsatian style wine left on its skins for 72 hours.
We not so eagerly arrived at our last stop, Exultet Estates, family owned and operated, this tiny winery produces some of the most awarded wines we’ve seen.A� Their Chardonnay, “The Blessed”, won the 2012 Ontario Wine Awards Gold, 2012 All Canadian Wine Championships Gold Medal, plus another Gold at the Canadian Wine Awards!
After all that sipping, sampling and exploring–our ride home with Sandbanks Vacations was a sleepy one.A� As we day dreamed of Pinot Noir, cheese and sunsets over endless fields of grapes we knew we’d be recommending this adventure.
A big thank you to the ever knowledgeable Heather and Sandbanks Vacations team for making our County experience incredible.