Prince Edward County is an Ontario gem. Despite some of the struggles of my recent trip, we visited some wonderful places. Here are my recommendations:
Places to Eat and Drink
The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery (Hillier)
The relatively cool weather (to Niagara) makes it a bigger risk to grow grapes in Prince Edward County. The Grange is unique in that they produce only 100% estate grown and made wines. Mother-daughter team Caroline and Maggie grow 7 varietals on 60 acres and produce 3 distinct lines of wine to suit their diverse clientele. Some of their Chardonnays may be a bit strong or unusual for most palates, but you can really taste the distinct terroir. I’m definitely coming back for their summer picnics.
Honey Pie Hives & Herbals
Husband and wife duo Bay Woodyard and Gavin North founded Honey Pie Hives & Herbals in 2000 and keep bees and grow herbs on their farm located along the rural backgrounds of Prince Edward County. The adorable shop sells a variety of bee products including sweet smelling soap, fresh honeycomb, wax candles, luxurious lotions, honey (of course) and elegant bottles of mead, all featuring Bay’s artwork on the labels. This traditional wine made from honey will definitely go over well for any party, Medieval or not.
Lighthall Vineyards (Milford)
Lighthall Vineyards is a low volume, high quality, family owned and operated winery using traditional old-world techniques. While there is not much “to do” on site, the wine is exceptional and the best I had on this trip. By the way, this place is very close to Honey Pie.
East & Main (Wellington)
You can expect some nice, wholesome, contemporary Canadian dishes at East & Main. They were particularly kind and accommodating to our lateness. I actually called in our order from the Belleville train station (like a crazy city person) to make sure we could get our short ribs and chicken on the ticket before the kitchen closed.
66 Gilead Distillery (Bloomfield)
These guys craft their spirits on site in small batches using a custom copper still. They’re also located on a beautiful 80-acre farm in and adjacent to the historic Cooper-Norton House. The new owners are currently rebranding themselves as Kindred Fine Spirits and I look forward to seeing what new products they come up with. It might not be the most idea time to visit right now, but I expect great things in 6 months or so.
Huff Estates Winery (Bloomfield)
You should visit Huff Estates if you are into “award-winning wines”, and I mean that with both sarcasm and sincerity. The property is large and presentable, and well-suited for corporate functions. While I do not think that large gold medals enhance the taste of my wine, I would recommend this place if only based on the fact that Sébastien Schwab cooks here and you’re guaranteed to eat well.
The County Canteen (Picton)
Even though the only reason we stopped in here was to escape the snowstorm, we were pleasantly surprised by the thoughtful (albeit somewhat unusual) dishes and the excellent no-nonsense service. Plus, this pub has live music and very interesting décor.
Places I Would Avoid
County Cider Company (Picton)
While they may the first of their kind in producing high quality apple ciders rooted in British tradition in the region, the experience we had was less than hospitable and frankly, unacceptable.
Del-Gatto Estates (Picton)
This is a very small winery that we wanted desperately to support. However, and very unfortunately, no one in our group seemed to be a big fan of their wines or of the establishment. Their baco noir was particularly off-putting.
The Place to Stay
The Mystic Dandelion (Bloomfield)
Owners Silvia Cambray and Sébastien Schwab are truly amazing hosts. While still relatively new, their French-inspired cuisine and warm and inviting house is the best Bed & Breakfast experience I have had to date.