I can’t believe that it took me this long to get out to Prince Edward County, otherwise known as PEC. I was always so envious of the photos I saw on social media and of course, of all the wine tasting. A few friends and I were talking about doing a quick weekend getaway so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to finally visit one of Ontario’s most popular wine destinations.
A little bit of background for you. Prince Edward County is located on the North Shore of Lake Ontario. It’s famously known for the Sandbanks beach, a beautiful beach surrounded by towering cliffs, bright blue water and sandy shorelines. We sadly didn’t get to visit given the cold weather but it’s on the list for next time. Because of the proximity to the lake and mild climate, PEC houses close to 50 vineyards and 30 wineries. PEC continues to develop and grow over the years and is quickly becoming a top destination for wine and food lovers alike.
We drove from Toronto which is probably the easiest of the options. It’s about a 2.5-3 hour drive so if you leave early enough in the morning, you can still make the most of your day. Another option is to take the GO train to Oshawa or the VIA Rail to Belleville and take a taxi/rent a car from there. There is no direct train into Prince Edward County and frankly, I love a good little roadtrip, especially when there are 90s pop songs playing the entire way. Hello sing-a-long!
Where To Stay
There are so many options when it comes to where to stay. The only advice I would give is to book early. Despite the numerous options, they fill up pretty quickly especially around high season. We were visiting in the middle of October which we assumed was actually low season and believe it or not, a lot of the tours were fully booked as were the accommodations. Our group opted for staying in an Air BnB in Picton which is a more central area and easy to access all the wineries from. Another area to consider is Bloomfield so that you are still central. Aside from Air BnB options there are hotels/motels, private cottages, guesthouses and really cute B&Bs.
What To Do
Well I mean, I think that’s pretty obvious no? All the wine! Unless you have a designated driver as part of your group you’ll definitely want to book a tour. They are usually about 4 hours and will run you around $300. You can likely choose from preset destinations or ask if they would be willing to customize a route for you . We were able to customize our tour which allowed us to make the most of our limited time. Below are the wineries we went to and highlighted were my favourites.
- Terra Cello Winery – we actually didn’t have wine here since they were sold out. More in the next section 😉
- The Old Third
- Domaine Darius – go see Joanie, she will change your life. You’ll also want to bring her home so she can explain things to you just the way she does during the tastings.
- Trail Estate
- Hubbs Creek
- Karlo Estates
- The June Motel – not a winery but we popped in for a drink and all the photo opps.
We didn’t get to go to Rosehall Run or Closson Chase which were the two on my list. More to do for the next trip!
Tastings at each of the wineries range between $2-5. Some of them had flights for around $5-7 where you could taste anywhere between 3-5 different wines. At most places, if you buy one of the wines they give you the tasting for free.
Where To Eat
Clearly my favourite part of the whole trip. I mentioned before that we had stopped into Terra Cello Winery but they were actually sold out of wine. We were okay with that because they are also known for their super fresh, wood oven baked pizza. We were a little over zealous and ordered 4 pies but they lived up to their reputation. The staff was also super welcoming and friendly which these days seems to be an added bonus. Make sure to say hi to Tony, he’s making all those pies himself!
At Hinterland, we got a little cheese platter to go along with our tastings which was much needed for the mid-day slump and paired perfectly with our bubbles and vino.
For dinner we went to the newly opened Flame and Smith. It prides itself on sustainable dining and has a focus on woodfire cooking. They believe that “food cooked over a fire tastes better, is more exciting and inspiring to work with and brings people together.” Three of us had the steak and the other had the daily pork special. Overall the meal was quite delicious. The vibe of the restaurant is not what I would have expected for PEC, definitely a little more upscale, beautifully decorated, modern and dimly lit. Very city-like. The service was okay, it seemed that if we asked too many questions we were being annoying.
And finally, for our last meal in PEC we went to the oh so popular Drake Devonshire. First off, just beautiful. As all the other Drake properties, the vibe is unique, personalized and leaves you looking in every corner for a photo. It’s also set RIGHT on the lake so you have a beautiful backdrop as you dine. The food? I’d say mediocre. It wasn’t bad but nothing to write home about either. I did really enjoy the scones though.
The service, downright awful. After we were seated it took them close to 15 minutes to even acknowledge us never mind bring us water or take our drink order. At this point we didn’t even know who are server was, we just flagged someone down to pay attention to us. Our drinks took forever to arrive and when our waitress did finally notice us she was completely indifferent and didn’t even acknowledge our wait. After getting a bite of our scones our food suddenly arrived and then it took another lifetime to pay and leave. Like I said, you’re kinda there for the backdrop.
Overall our little weekend adventure to PEC was a grand success but I would definitely recommend two nights over 1. Gives you some time to break things up and maybe even explore the sweet, quaint town of Bloomfield.
Some other things on my list for future visits:
- Slickers Ice Cream
- Sandbanks Beach
- Horse Riding
- Lavender Farm
- Bloomfield Public House
- Blumen Garden Bistro
Would love to know if you guys have visited PEC and what your favourite things to do were!
Till next time!