A pal from away came to visit. She’s a world traveller. Trying to find something to do that she hasn’t done is hard. One thing we share in common is a love of wine. So this visit, I arranged participation in a guided tour of 4 wineries in Prince Edward County.
We left the car at our hotel, and met our guide in the lobby. 9 plus one 6 year old settled into an air-conditioned van. First stop Sugarbush winery. Nothing looks less like a winery than Sugarbush. A two-storey house that suits a suburban street in an upscale suburb is surrounded by vineyards. The tasting room is in the walkout basement. The 3car garage is converted into the barrel room. Sugar bush makes small batches and uses only grapes they grow themselves. The vintner supports his passion with a full tine job in Ottawa.
Chadsey’s Cairns winery was the second stop. A beautiful tasting room in a converted apple cellar that sits next to a stunning heritage barn. Again we were surrounded by vines on which grew the grapes that were components of the wines we tasted.
Always white to red; always light to heavy. Gamay, piano, cab franc. PEC doesn’t have the climate for the big grapes like cab, merlot and syrah.
From Chadsey’s we drove Hillier Creek Estates. Unlike the other vineyards we visited Hillier Creek uses a machine to harvest the grapes. The vintner took us into his fields to explain the process and politics of wine production in The County. No Canadian wine is produced without a suspicion if politics.
Last stop was Sandbanks, the 2nd largest vineyard in the County. They produce sufficient quantities to distribute their products through the provincial liquor control board.
There are many positives about spending a little extra on the escorted tour. No designated driver is required. You meet the vintners. You visit the fields with a knowledgeable guide. The entire tasting experience is heightened.