Welcome to our Sparkling Wine Weekend Guide for Prince Edward County, Ontario! We’ve put together this handy sparkling wine focused itinerary based on our experience within the region (from wineries to dining spots, accommodations and things to do) to make the most out of your weekend in wine country, so you can sip and savour the region like a Sparkling Wino! For more information about the Ontario’s wine regions, visit Wine Country Ontario and check out their super comprehensive 2017 Travel Guide!
Prince Edward County – or, “The County” in local parlance – is a scenic rural community sandwiched between Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa on the north shore of Lake Ontario. The region has a sparkling reputation for food and wine (there’s over 35 wineries here), which has driven tourism through the roof in recent years.
Not long ago, if you mentioned Prince Edward County to someone in Toronto, you’d probably get a confused look and a response along the lines of: “Do you mean, Prince Edward Island?.” This is no longer the case, as press coverage across about this little corner of Ontario has exploded. From favourable coverage in local papers like the Toronto Star and Globe and Mail, to a growing presence within the Wine Country Ontario project and to glowing reviews in international outlets, The County is the place to be! In fact, Condé Nast Traveller’s 2016 feature on the County and it’s charms propelled it from indie coffee shop singer-songwriter to Taylor Swift status. Oh, and a recent feature in Vogue. How epic is that?
Are you curious about navigating The County? With so much to see, do and savour, it may be a little bit daunting. So, check out our full 3 day, 2 night Sparkling Wine Weekend Guide for The County. The Itinerary takes the guesswork out of how to structure your trip and helps you get your sparkle on!
We’ve structured the Sparkling Wine Weekend Guide for The County to include sparkling wine consumption and it goes without saying that we absolutely recommend you have a designated driver or use the spittoon!
Depart for Prince Edward County from your point of origin. If you’re leaving Toronto, budget 2.5 hours driving time. If you need a pit stop for a coffee or bathroom break, the quaint lakeside town of Cobourg, with it’s impressive stone town hall, is the place to stop.
First Stop: Hinterland Wine Company
First stop, Hinterland Wine Company. Founded by Jonas Newman and Vicki Samaras, Hinterland produces premium sparkling wine and is the perfect first stop for a Sparkling Wino tour of The County! What we love about Hinterland is their pioneering spirit, dedication, willingness to experiment and downright amazing attitude. Oh, right…. and the sparkling wines of course! From Ancestral to Charmat to Traditional Method, Hinerland covers the full spectrum of sparkling winemaking!
Our current favourite is the Sacrament 2011 Method Traditional, made from 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay. The wine also has a cute back story, and we are kinda suckers for a good one! According to Jonas, the inspiration for the Sacrament came from his marriage to Vicki. Funnily enough, in Quebec the term Sacrament is also a swear word. In the case of Hinterland, there’s a winery in the mix and that of course can be challenging and lead to a few expletives here and there. Nonetheless, we agree with Jonas and Vicki that the union, along with the wine, is something to celebrate!
The winery offers tastings and tours, and groups of 6 or more are encouraged. Oh, and if you’re pressed for time or just want a chilled bottled on your way out, they’ve got you covered with a pretty awesome selection of chilled sparkling wines in a Hinterland branded fridge. Phew!
Second Stop: The Grange of Prince Edward
Up next, we have The Grange of Prince Edward Winery, conveniently located up the road from Hinterland. The Grange is a beautiful boutique winery offering all the charms of the The County, with a tasting room housed in a historic barn. Can’t get any more country than that!
The wines produced here are made from 100% estate grown grapes and the winemaking team is lead by a mother-daughter duo of Caroline and Maggie Granger. The Grange offers a number of sparklings, including the 2011 Brut and the 2012 Brut Rosé. What we love about The Grange’s Brut and Brut Rosé is that both express the terroir of The County and have a classic county “je ne sais pas”. We love it so much!
After your tasting of sparklings in a barn tasting room… wouldn’t it be perfect if you could have a picnic? Well, luckily The Grange offers picnics on the weekends in May and daily from June through August. There’s nothing better than a basket featuring locally made treats (local cheese and charcuterie, summer pickles, wood fired bread) and a perfect spot overlooking the vineyards. Other than a glass of The Grange Brut Rosé to go with it, of course!
Third Stop: Traynor Family Vineyard
Now that you’ve had an absolutely adorable picnic, you’re ready for Traynor Family Vineyard. Traynor’s a bit of a new kid on the block, through it’s winemaker – Mike Traynor – has been working in the wine industry since 1997. At the age of 22, he was Canada’s youngest winemaker!
What drew us to Traynor were the Pét-Nats, or pétillant naturel. These wines can be described as “naturally sparkling,” where still-fermenting wine is bottled, capped and allowed to complete fermentation in the bottle. If you know a hipster, no doubt you’d have heard of Pét-Nat. Somewhat unpredictable in terms of the finished product, Pét-Nats can be a fun conversation starter. And, did we mention… Traynor has a White, Red and Orange Pét-Nat (more on these wines here). Taste them side by side for a fun experience or take them home for a fun surprise. Take care when opening them, though, as the wine continues to ferment and should be slowly uncapped.
Now that you’ve got a good flavour of PEC sparklings, it’s time to take a leisurely drive through The County, passing vineyards, pastoral fields, historic villages and beautiful vistas, head over to Picton.
Located just outside of the little town, the Agrarian Market is the perfect pit stop for your charcuterie needs. After a full day of sparkling wine tasting, there’s nothing better than a relaxed dinner, right?
Final Stop: The June Motel
It’s time to check into your accommodations at The June Motel. We can’t say enough about this absolutely adorable motel. Founded in 2017 by April and Sarah, two amazingly talented entrepreneurs from Toronto, The June stands before you as a beautiful vision in pink (or… rosé!). Think mid-centry modern meets The Golden Girl’s Lanaii meets rose gold meets absolutely Instagrammabley perfect. April and Sarah transformed a run down motor lodge, dusting it off and reinventing it as a gorgeous motel underpinned by good vibes and great wine. We knew we were in the right place when our welcome cocktail was… the Hinterland Borealis!
The June offers a number of suites across two storeys, each elegantly designed with that mid-century tropical touch. Not to be outdone on the design end of things, the practicality of the finishes was not lost on us Sparkling Winos: from the provided wine fridge and fully appointed bar cart, to the t.v. with cable (a novelty for us), to the seperated seating area for your luggage and wine haul, The June is thought out through and through. I mean, we did love the Nespresso machine and coffee mugs which declared: this may be wine!
After a full day of sparkling wine tasting, The June is a perfect place to kick back and relax. So when dinner time beckons and you start to get hungry, you know it’s time to throw together that Charcuterie Board. The bar cart includes a little tray – perfect for local meats and cheese. And, since each room has a balcony, your meal comes with a beautiful view of Picton Bay.
Now that you’re full, why not check out the fire pit to mingle and chat and to take in The County’s fresh air? You might even make a few friends and teach them how to sabre! Feeling thirsty? The June’s bar aka Wine Lobby has an amazing array of local wines (and one French Rose), beers and ciders. And why not end the night with an episode of International House Hunters or… three episodes of Love It or List It? See, we told you cable is a novelty for us. 😂
The June offers the Detox + Retox. What is it, exactly? Every Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m., an easy flow yoga class is offered outside of The June that ends with a mimosa in the Front Yard. Now, that’s our kind of exercise!
First Stop: Sandbanks Provincial Park
Now that you’ve had a bit of exercise, it’s time to check out Sandbanks Provincial Park. Located about 30 minutes drive from The June, Sandbanks is a popular beach destination in The County. Known for the world’s largest baymouth barrier dune formation and three expansive sandy beaches, Sandbanks is the perfect place to get some sun. Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy your afternoon!
Sparkling Winos Tip:
GO EARLY! We took our time luxuriating with breakfast in bed,
and ended up waiting in an hour long line of cars to get into the park.
Good thing we curated a solid Spotify playlist. 😜
Second Stop: Stowaway Vintage
Now that you’ve had a bit of sun and sand, why not hunt for some treasure? Located in Cherry Valley (about 20 minutes from Sandbanks) is one of our favourite spots in The County: Stowaway Vintage. There’s nothing more fun than a barn full of weird and wonderful antiques. You might even walk away with a cactus themed margarita pitcher and glass set and tiki girl plates for your tiki themed backyard.
Sparkling Winos Tip:
If you’re a fellow ’90s Kid like us, be sure to check out some of the vintage board games and Pez dispensers. Nostalgia! 😍
Third Stop: Lighthall Vineyards
Next, take a 5 minute drive to Lighthall Vineyards. Lighthall is a small, low volume but high quality winery that includes sparkling wine in its portfolio and… makes cheese! We love the Progression Sparkling which paired beautifully with all the cheese on offer (full disclosure: the wine was paired with a specific cheese but we loved all three and brought home $50 in delicious cheese).
We love, love, love small towns. And Wellington might be The County’s most charming little hotspot. Take a stroll down the main drag, which features one stop light, but also an urban beach, a beautiful lakeside park, several heritage buildings and lovey restaurants and shops. It goes without saying that the Drake Devonshire is an amazing spot to take in the town!
After you’ve taken in the sights, why not stop for a great Aperol Spritz at Midtown Brewing Company.
Final Stop: The Courage
Dinner in Wellington should always be at The Courage. Easily the cutest restaurant staffed by the most beautiful yet kind people (hi Nona!), The Courage offers a menu that celebrates local and seasonal ingredients. Dinner is served Wednesday to Saturday, 5:30 to close.
If you’re a Sparkling Wino and love The County, continue the festivities with the Hinterland Borealis. It pairs beautifully with the Uncommon Octopus appetizer (which features grapefruit gel and corn bisque, of all things!) and the Steak Frites. Now… can we talk about the Steak Frites?! Damn.
You might be so charmed that you end up staying for a bottle of Lighthall Progression or Traynor Trifecta Pet-Nat (that just so happens to be made in collaboration with The Courage!). And, when the DJ set starts, you might just dig the vibe enough to cab back to The June because the vibe was 100% good vibes only. Cronkie’s Cab Co. is who you should call, should you need a ride!
Sparkling Winos Tip:
GET THE OCTOPUS! 🐙
First Stop: Breakfast in Bed!
Bright eyed and bushy tailed, you should definitely take advantage of the Breakfast in Bed option at The June, which includes a selection of “good for yous,” like a detox juice, chia seed pudding and the breakfast cookie (that’s gluten free, paleo and vegan… and downright delicious!). Oh, and the Nespresso maker in your room will definitely give you the pep you need for your early morning step!
Second Stop: Lake on the Mountain
After you’ve checked out, it’s time to say goodbye to The June, but not before you visit Lake on the Mountain. A lake located on a hill with no known source, no established depth and the stuff of local legends? Sign us up! Enjoy the views from the platform and take in the fresh air!
Sparkling Winos Tip:
Try a local brew at the historic Miller House! They have an amazing patio overlooking the lake.
Final Stop: Rosehall Run Vineyards
Now that you’ve seen what some locals say is a collapsed volcano or a giant sinkhole, take a 30 minute drive to Rosehall Run Vineyards. Located on a country lane and surrounded by vineyards, Rosehall Run is a scenic winery with a beautiful tasting room and patio. We absolutely love Rosehall Run’s traditional method sparkling, Ceremony, as well as the lively and approachable Pixie and recently released Indigo (more on these wines here!).
The Indigo is fruity, just barely off-dry and pairs perfectly with the treats on offer by Picnic PEC, a local food truck! The Po’ Boy Sandwich, made with local pickerel, tartar, creamy coleslaw and spicy mayo and the Black Bean Veggie Burger were to die for.
After your delicious brunch, why not take the Cellar Experience Tour or enjoy the views of the vineyard from the patio?
It’s time to drive home. Alas, while your weekend away is over, but since you had such a sparkling time, you can be rest assured that your next trip out to The County is just around the corner. You’ll be hooked! Oh, and make sure to keep your sparkling wines buckled up in the back seat! 😉