Whenever you think of wine, you think of Burgundy, South Africa, California, etc. When you think Canadian wines, you think Niagara and the Okanagan. I travel a crap load, and have visited many of the great wine regions of the world. And I have to say, Prince Edward County produces some of the finest wines at the most reasonable prices.
Princes Edward County (PEC) is located at the Northern tip of Lake Ontario, due South of Belleville in Canada, and North of Rochester in the States. A great way to start your trip is in my hometown of Kingston, Canada’s “original capital.” From there, you head to Picton, an artsy community in the dead-centre of PEC. You can do PEC as a day-tour from Kingston, however, if you’d like to stay in the County, which is absolutely beautiful, the Drake Hotel of Toronto has opened a very suave hotel in nearby Bloomfield – the Drake Devonshire (no points redemptions available, unfortunately). Rates aren’t cheap. If you’re going to PEC during wine season, expect to pay ~$300 night. Another great option is to rent a cottage, but you have to book at least six months in advance, as the County is often sold-out.
PEC’s soil is mostly clay on limestone, which encourages deeply-grown vines, which creates strongly flavoured wines. Pinot and chardonnay grapes grow especially well, however, an amazing range of wines are produced in the County. Last year, I attended a “Champagne-DO” in New York City, which had a blind tastings of bubblies, and a $35 bubbly from Huff Estates won, far exceeding the quality of $100+ champagnes.
Perhaps it’s my desire to encourage my local economy, however, I truly believe that PEC wines are some of the best in the world. They are only starting to sell at the LCBO, however, almost all vineyards sell-out through on-location sales weeks before the end of wine season. You can’t get most PEC wines in any stores.
My favourite wineries are: Hinterland, Huff Estates (AMAZING bubblies); Hubbs Creek (best Pinot Noir) and; Norman Hardie, Rosehall Run (very upscale). If any of my readers are ever in the region, I’d be happy to give further recommendations, or perhaps bum a ride to the County with you 😉
(no, this is not an advertisement – I’m currently overly-enjoying a bottle of Rosehall Run Chardonnay, the inspiration for this post)