We’ve been having such a wonderful summer. A side from the rainy days, we’ve had sunny and pleasant weekends to enjoy the outdoors, sit on a patio and even do a bit of road tripping. Not everyone can get away for a week-long vacation, and sometimes a day trip or even a weekend can help you relax and recharge.
A few weeks ago my girlfriends and I took a road trip to Prince Edward County to visit a few wineries. One of our favourite Ontario wines comes from Sandbanks Winery, so we thought it would be fun to take a drive and visit the winery. If you enjoy local wine but want to explore something other than Niagara or live in the east end of Toronto, this is a great alternative. Prince Edward County is Ontario’s fastest-growing wine region.
Getting there: Prince Edward County is about a 2 hour drive east from Toronto. If you’re travelling for a scheduled event give yourself extra time incase you hit a bit of traffic on the 401.
Wineries to visit: There are about 30 wineries to tour as well as 2 breweries and a distillery. We visited Sandbanks Winery which is one of the oldest wineries and offers a large selection of award winning wines, complimentary tours, food pairings, as well as a picnic area and live music. If you’re going to make it a weekend getaway and you want to visit more than one winery this website will be helpful.
Where to eat: Depending on when you arrive, there is a number of options. The larger wineries like Huff Estates offer lunch on the patio prepared by Chef Sebastien Schwab. There is also a number of restaurants in towns like Picton, Wellington and Bloomfield that offer lunch or dinner menus. Try East & Main Bistro for comfort food with local ingredients, Pomodoro Trattoria and Wine Bar for rustic Italian, or the Agrarian for rustic style dishes. To avoid disappointment I would recommend planning ahead and make reservations. Many restaurants shut down between lunch and dinner and book up quickly. Of course, you can’t leave without a stop at Slickers Ice Cream and a scoop or two of their locally made ice cream in flavours like apple pie, campfire (with burnt marshmallows) or the good old maple walnut.
Where to stay: Prince Edward County is a beautiful area to spend a weekend. With all the wineries around and not to mention a gorgeous beach and scenic bike route, it’s a perfect place to take a few days off and unwind. For a small region, I was surprised with the number and variety of accommodations PEC offers. If you like the Bed and Breakfast experience, there are quite a few to choose from with many right on the water. If you’re looking for something more luxurious, try the Huff Estates Inn or soon to be opened (September) the Drake Devonshire. There are also private cottages available for rent depending on the length of your stay, as well as cottage resorts and campgrounds. Check out the PEC Tourism website for more details.
What else is there: PEC is not just about wine. There are three provincial parks, fourteen conservation areas, and many community parks throughout the County, providing photographic opportunities, cross-country skiing, picnic areas, restored historical sites, canoeing, kayaking, hiking and more. Bike your way through beautiful scenic routes across this wine region, relax on the beach or spend a day at one of the local spas.
The girls’ weekend road trip was an introduction coarse to Prince Edward Island. I admit, that although it’s not very far from the city, I haven’t been there since I was a teenager and didn’t really know how much the region has to offer. I’ll be honest and say that I had a bit of a City Girl moment when my friends and I strolled into Wellington around 3:00pm for a late lunch only to learn that most restaurants were closed until 5:30pm in preparation for dinner. That’s unthinkable in Toronto, right? Well, now I know how they roll in PEC and will know better next time. On our way back to the city, the girls and I were already planning the next visit – which wineries we’ll visit, where we’ll eat, which route we’ll take. So what are you doing this weekend? Prince Edward County is just a short drive away.