This could actually be a really short blog post, as all I could do is post all the wonderful pictures we took in Prince Edward County and tell you this: ‘’Just go and live it for yourself, you’ll love it!!!’’ But since I love sharing our experiences and trips with all of you, here’s a review of our awesome summer vacation in the County.
So just like everyone else, the pandemic ruined all of our travel plans – Disney World last March, Canada’s East Coast in July, a weekend in Chicago in August, and our planned weekend in New York in December. We quarantined pretty hard over here for what seemed to be like forever, but the itch to travel was always there, and then it kinda took over by early July. We were thinking about possibly traveling with the boys, but then decided we weren’t ready for them to re-join the real world just yet. So we opted to travel to the Prince Edward County for the second summer in a row, without kids this time, after lots of considerations regarding the different public health measures we would have to follow. We figured out that since it was not too far from home, and that most activities would be done outside, it was safe enough for us to go there.
After settling on our destination, we started to look for available places to stay. I would have loved to stay at my beloved The June Motel once again, but sadly, they were fully booked for that weekend. Luckily, we were able to find the most exquisite Airbnb, located right downtown Picton. Oh, and we did not traveled alone, we invited our friends Mat and Vero to tag alone and they said yes, which made our road trip so much better!
We left early Saturday morning, with Starbucks’ lattes in hands as well as with a stupid song in our heads! The road up there from Ottawa is quite nice and pretty. You can take the highway and save on time, or take the beautiful scenic route by the water and then get to Picton on a ferry. I recommend doing that for the way up there, and then taking the highway on the way back, just like we did. We chatted the entire time until we made it into the county. Brian had organized a schedule for the three days we were there, and our first stop was at Parson’s Brewery for lunch and beers.
So I am going to be giving some awards in this blog… And Parson’s wins for the Best Brewery Terrace I’ve ever been to. This place is awesome and so fun to be at. It has so much characters, with the wooden beams and wooden tables, the barn, the van, the people, and so much more. The vibe is unique and exactly what we were all looking for for our first stop. They have great food and great beers and the best location for you to enjoy it. It was a perfect start to our little vacation. It was Mat and Vero’s first time in the County and after visiting Parson’s, they were already sold on PEC.
We then visited our first winery and had wine at Three Dog Winery. We sat by the vines and enjoyed the live music and the summer heat – all weekend long it was hot and sunny, close to 40 degrees every day in the County, so let me tell you that we enjoyed that canopy at our picnic table at Three Dog. Three Dogs is a super laid back winery, with such friendly staff and colourful place. The homemade wood oven pizza looked and smelled delicious, but we had to pass since we just had lunch.
Then it was back on the road for a short drive to Kinsip, House of Fine Spirits. When we visited Kinsip last year it was love at first sight – and you can read all about it here in my picton and the power of pink blog post. This year was no exception. We had booked our tasting online and were immediately seated outside in large Adirondack chairs, ready to try them delicious drinks and spirits. The experience at Kinsip was fun, relaxing, and again, such a great start to our weekend without kids! Kinsip is definitely a must if you visit the County, and they by far win the Most Beautiful Spirits Bottles Ever award. Like I don’t even mind when Brian keeps one of his Kinsip bottles out, they’re that pretty! I also love the old house, as well as the entire setting with chickens running all around the tasting area. We only wished we could have stayed for a second tasting but it was fully booked on that day! Instead, we walked around the house and had some amazing food in the back yard: smoked brisket, pork side ribs and sausages… and that’s Big Mike’s BBQ! This food is out of this world! That BBQ was worth the drive alone. I was literally pissed that Brian didn’t order more. We should have brought some back to our Airbnb for a late night snack! If you visit the county, visit Big Mike’s BBQ, and bring me back some brisket. Okay, it’s a close one here, cause we had some pretty tasty BBQ later in the trip, but thinking back about all the food we had, Big Mike’s BBQ wins the Best BBQ in the County award for their perfectly smoked beef brisket.
So after a brewery, a winery and a distillery, it was time for me to go settle in our Airbnb. We had rented the second floor of what used to be a bakery, and I have to say that I have never stayed in such a fun, eclectic and interesting place! I honestly felt we were in a cool girly apartment that you find in sitcoms or movies! Everywhere you looked, there was something interesting… from the fresh butter croissants in the morning to the funky parlour where we chatted all evening long, it was perfect for us. It is located directly on Picton’s Main Street, right in front of 555 Brewery, so we could literally walk anywhere we wanted to go. The best thing when you drink and eat all day long is having the ability to park the car and walk where you wanna go! So evening walks were mandatory! And that’s what we did every night, go out to dinner and then walk around town. A walk that ended up at 555 Brewery on most nights.
On our first day, we decided to have dinner at The Acoustic Grill, just a few blocks away from our Airbnb. It was the perfect weather for our first patio dinner of the summer (craziness, we were in late July and that was our first dinner on a patio this summer!?). We had such a great time there, where we had local beers, local wine, amazing pub fare, and the best French fries I may have ever had. All I could think of was how Logan would have loved to eat there as there’s no one who enjoys eating fries like he does. So guess what you can do with the best fries? The best poutine! OMG it was good… Next time we go to Picton, The Acoustic Pub will be on our to-do list that’s for sure. This time around, due to COVID’s restrictions, there was none, but apparently there is usually some live music there, which would make this place even more awesome as there is nothing like a dinner at a pub with live music in the background. Next time, hopefully!
The next morning we all slept in and then sent Brian on a coffee hunt on Main Street… and he came back with the most delicious lattes and white chocolate raspberry scones that was ever made. Those scones deserve an award that’s for sure! The place he went to is called The Bean Counter Café, and if you stay in Picton, you need to go get your morning coffee and breakfast there. It was so good we actually went back for the same order the following two mornings. Yep, the scones and coffee were that good!
So on that first day, as soon as that coffee kicked in, we were out the door and ready to explore some more. Brian had again a full day organized for us. We started by hitting Prince Eddy’s Brewery for a very early first beer! We were the first one on the patio enjoying some drinks at about 10:45 am! Meanwhile, while they were trying out different beers, I sat patiently until the food joint opened, Slight Peppa. Oh my, oh my, this place completely blew my mind. I believe it was the first time I actually had Caribbean fusion food and I about just died right then and there as it was so good. We shared Jerk Chicken Baos, Crispy Garlic Beef and Chickpeas Fritters. All out of this world! Slight Peppa definitely wins the Best New Find award as I didn’t even know the place existed, I had no expectations, but I couldn’t stop eating once I started as it was so good. Would go back to Picton just to have some more, and so you should!
Our second stop of the day was at Huff Estates, and we were lucky enough to score the best seat in the house for our wine tasting. Life is good when you have a glass of wine in front of you while overlooking the vineyard that produced the grapes to make it. Once again, didn’t get to eat the wood oven pizza, but wish I had. It’s the only thing that would have made this visit any better! Next time for sure!
Then, we visited Trail Estate Winery. So much to say about this beautiful and modern new winery. We had the privilege to have a private tasting right in the cellar, and what an experience that was. We were right there, drinking wine, with wine barrels full of wine all around us! We had such a great time and learned so much about the land, the Sproll family, the winery, the winemaker, how it all started, the way they make their wine and the passion behind it. We loved and enjoyed every minute of it. We chatted with Alex for what seems to be like forever, and also tried all of their wine. We all loved the vibe of the place almost as much as their wine! We left Trail Estate such on a high, so excited about the wine tasting experience we had just had. The hour we spent in the cellar with Alex was the best – well it was 41 degree Celsius outside and like 15 in the Cellar, so that was awesome, but listening to him talk about his wine was so much fun and inspiring. So since I am giving awards today, this place definitely deserves one… and like, although I’ve been talking about beers, and drinks, and wine, as you all probably know, I do not drink, at all, so this award comes from Brian after I asked him about his favorite wine from our trip. When I asked him that, he immediately mentioned four wine, including the skin fermented Riesling from Trail… so for me, when I hear skin fermented wine, while also thinking about all the different wine they tried during that tasting, including some unfiltered hazy wine, some orange wine, and some type of wine none of us had ever heard about before, I feel like this place deserves the Most Creative Wine award. If you go to PEC, go try all the craft and colourful wine at Trail Estate! Thank you so much Alex, you have such a wonderful winery and products, thanks a lot for the time you spent with us and for the wonderful opportunity to visit the Estate.
So by the time we left Trail, some of us were a little tipsy, but we’re in wine County after all, so no time to lose as another winery was waiting for us! The moment we arrived at The Grange of Prince Edward Winery, it literally took my breath away. This place is simply gorgeous, like the most beautiful farm I’ve ever seen. We didn’t have enough time to visit it last year, although so many people had told us to go there, so there was no way we were skipping it this year. The scenery at the entrance of the estate is simply wonderful, and right there while driving towards the vineyard, I knew this was going to be a special visit.
This – I would guess – 200 years old barn is huge and so beautiful. It’s like perfection. Inside, you will find the wine shop and the tasting bar. The Grange totally hit the bullseye with me with their wine tasting experience! Once at the tasting bar, you select the wine you’d like to try, and they package it up in the cutest little box, where you’ll find a wine glass as well as your four selected wine, all perfectly labelled with the nicest tags. Simply well done! So we walked out with our wine tasting kits and found the perfect spot to enjoy our wine with a view of the vineyard. We took a thousand pictures, and then it was time for some fabulous cocktails. Right by the vineyard, there was this perfectly refurbished trailer called Old Salt Cocktails. By then, while they were all getting tipsy, I was getting hungry, so when Brian and Mat said they were going to go get some drinks at Old Salt, I asked them to bring me back some food. Well they came back with some colourful and delicious cocktails (Brian brought me a homemade lemonade, and it was not one of the best I’ve ever had, it was THE best I’ve ever had), as well as some gastronomic hot dogs. The sausages were so good we decided to go for seconds. I am not usually a big fan of hot dogs, but those were something else. So guess what, after a wine tasting kit, two hot dogs and a drink each, well my three musketeers decided to go get a glass of their favorite wine, but I actually didn’t mind, cause I loved being there and didn’t want to leave. Sitting by a vineyard like this makes me appreciate winemaking so much more, even if I don’t drink it myself. Brian loved The Grange’s Cabernet Franc and kept on talking about the brand new wine, ‘’not even bottled yet’’, that Maggie made them try. While The Grange should definitely win an award for their Cabernet Franc, I fell in love with the place, with the old rustic barn, the gorgeous scenery, the mother-daughter story, the lovely wine kits, so I’m giving them the Picture-Perfect Winery award. Can’t wait to visit the County again and go say hi to Maggie. If you go to PEC, you should do the same, as you’ll be blown away!
We stayed at The Grange for quite a while, so by the time we left, it was too late to go visit another vineyard, so we decided to find a patio for some more drinks. Vero wanted to have drinks at The Drake in Wellington, but we got there and it was fully booked. So we remembered that our amazing Airbnb hostess Jenny had recommended another place in Wellington, a new spot from which ‘’she had heard good things about’’. So we drove a few hundred meters and made it to The Lakeside. Oh. My. God. You will for sure be seeing me at The Lakeside very soon, I promise. I still can’t believe I didn’t know about this place. It’s a fully renovated 70’s motel, decorated in black and white, with a beautiful modern pool, as well as 4 glamping tents, all lined up in front of a huge Caribbean-esque patio, which is right by the water. I’m in love! I actually felt I was down south for a moment. It’s truly a masterpiece. The size of the patio overlooking the Lake is so impressive. They really thought of everything, with DIY fire pits, blankets, s’more kits and so much more (and I will be using it all when I’ll be going!). I hadn’t realize that Lake Ontario’s water was that aqua colour, but it was stunning just sitting there, hearing the waves hitting the shore below us and overlooking the water. The drinks were awesome, and pink! And the pizza was delicious – yep, I finally had some pizza! I tried to take many pictures but it was super windy, so they’re not exactly up to what we were seeing live. But that’s okay, I’ll be back soon, hopefully for a stay, if not, definitely for a drink!
After that, we went back to Picton, walked around a little, and then ended up at 555 Brewery for a beer before going back to our Airbnb. The nightlife in Picton was almost non-existent. Not sure if its COVID related, since last year with the boys we actually had early diners and went back to The June pretty early every night, but it seems like everything was shut down by 9 pm. So by 9:15 we were in our condo, which luckily was super nice and had the best parlour to lounge in, but being kids free for 3 days, I would have really like to stay out late at least one night! So we stayed in our parlour for a few hours, Brian opened a bottle of Pinot Noir from Trail Estate, and we chatted about how perfect our day was until bed time.
So the morning came, Mat went to the coffee shop to get us our lattes and scones, and then we all visited a few local shops as well as grabbed a few sandwiches for our scheduled afternoon picnic. We left Picton and headed right down to Closson Chase Winery. As soon as you arrived, all you see is the most perfect purple barn that was ever made – where they just happen to make perfect wine. The moment we arrived, we were greeted by Chris Braney, Closson Chase’s Brand Ambassador, and from there, we had the wine tasting experience of a lifetime. We sat by the grapes, chatting with Chris while drinking Rosé, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. Chris took his time telling us stories about his past, his Irish roots and his youth, his love for the grapes and apples, as well as his life long search for the perfect land, soil and weather for him to start growing is own grapes; which is the reason why he left home and bought a land in PEC. He told us all about Closson Chase and the process and complexity of making great wine in PEC. He made us taste the difference between the wine they produce with the County grapes and the grapes they bring over from the Niagara region. His stories were the best, he had so much to tell us, while also being interested in hearing what we had to say, answering all of our questions, while sitting and drinking with us for hours like we were old friends. I could have sat there, listening to him talk about wine all day long. He spoke about wine with so much passion that I actually had to have some. So I drank a full glass of Rosé by the time they tasted the Rosé, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Grande Cuvée Chardonnay and Grande Cuvée Pinot Noir. I was so proud of myself! Chris really wanted me to try the Grande Cuvée Pinot Noir, but I was still sipping and enjoying my Rosé, so I said no, but I began to wish I’d drank red wine when he started to talk about that wine, describing every little details of it, of how it’s made and how it tastes, and you could feel there was something special about that specific bottle that got him particularly proud, and there was. They only use the best grapes to make this Grande Cuvée wine, which includes some of Chris’ own grapes. Right there when he said that, I wanted to cry from happiness for him. He was so proud about the wine, and so should he. We tried many different wine that weekend, and I have to say that as per my three travel partners, that Pinot Noir was at the top of their list as the most memorable and best one they’ve tried. So since we’re in wine County and some of you probably want to hear about the wine, and not only about the nice barns we’ve visited, here some prestigious wine awards based on what I’ve heard on the way back home the next morning. The Grande Cuvée wine from Closson Chase wins it all. They all chose the Closson Chase’s Grande Cuvée Pinot Noir and Grande Cuvée Chardonnay as their top two wine. Brian actually said that the Pinot Noir was now one of his favorite wine ever, while Vero and Mat mentioned that the Chardonnay was probably their favorite Chardonnay ever. Let me tell you one thing about my friends, well they drink a lot of good wine, so it made me sooo happy when they said that, cause deep down, I really wanted them to say that the beautiful-purple-barn-winery was making great wine, and they did, they make perfect wine! Congrats Closson Chase, you win the County’s Best Wine award.
So after we had drank more than our fair share of wine with Chris, he sent us at the back of the vineyard, where he said we would find the best spot for a picnic. We got there with our picnic basket, sat on a blanket, poured ourselves some more Chardonnay, and enjoyed our picnic while being surrounded by vines and grapes, talking about how incredible the last two hours had been.
Our time at Closson Chase really put the rest of our day to shame! Yet, we still had a great time visiting some more winery, eating pizza and drinking wine overlooking the Lake. It was such a great day in PEC, and such a pleasure meeting Chris Barney. Chris, thank you again for your time and generosity, we will be seeing you soon at Cold Creek Vineyards since visiting you and your family, as well as tasting your cider, is at the top of our list for our next trip to the County!
Our journey in PEC was coming to an end, and I was kinda happy when the boys decided to go to bed early as it gave me a chance to catch up with my girlfriend! Vero and I chatted until late that night, like we did when we were high school girls! It was great to go away with them, last time it was Vegas, this time PEC, who knows were our next destination will be! Surely somewhere there’ll be wine, but anywhere we go, I’m good with it, as I know we’ll be having a great time.
Prince Edward County, we simply love you. We all fell in love with you last year and I can’t imagine a summer where we won’t be visiting you. Our boys can’t wait to visit your beautiful beaches again, eat ice cream every day and have pancakes for dinner. And we can’t wait to visit again, feel the welcoming vibe of your region and enjoy everything you have to offer.
We’re in love and we will keep on coming back. Who knows, maybe sooner than later, as Chris told us that his favorite time of the year in PEC was actually October. We’ll see! Cheers everyone!