Prince Edward County is one of Canada’s best (and littlest) wine regions with so much to offer, and only 3 hours from Ottawa. This was our second year visiting the County and we got to explore even more of this great area. Now that I’ve had the chance to try more wineries and breweries, some great restaurants, do some shopping and spend some time just exploring the region I’m ready to share my favourite spots in PEC! You can also check out my complete Prince Edward County Winery Guide!
Let’s start with the important part, the wineries. Although there is lots to do in PEC, the reason a lot of people go is for the wineries. There are so many wineries/vineyards and I think we’ve tried about a dozen places now. I personally prefer the smaller ones that are often family run. Not only are the people there much more personable and friendly to chat with while tasting wine but I’ve found that the wine itself is so much better. Last year we went to a handful of larger wineries that have large tasting rooms but we were never very impressed with the wine or the experience overall. When we went to smaller ones though the wine was amazing and the experience was really fun. So this year we stuck to the smaller wineries/vineyards for the most part, returning to our favourites from last year and trying some new ones. Be sure to check opening times on websites before going, especially in the off season.
Hinterland Wine Company: Hinterland is known for their sparkling wines and for good reason. Their located in Hillier where a large concentration of the wineries are so it’s easy to visit many around. The winery itself is lovely with nice outdoor space for tasting and a patio kitchen. The prices for tastings vary depending on the wine. They also did a special fall release of an orange wine in collaboration with the chef/owner of Joe Beef in Montreal. Their tasting room is a good size and you can wander over to the vines where there are some chairs. They do cater to large groups so it can get busy so go early.
Lighthall Vineyards: Lighthall is in the Milford area of PEC and east to get to if you’re coming from the east. They’re pretty small but their wine is impressive. They stood out on our most recent trip not only because the wine was great but the service was friendly and informative and they serve their very own cheese with the wine tasting for a great price. It was hard enough not to buy every single wine but throw in the cheese and I could have easily dropped a few hundred dollars. As mentioned they are small and their tasting room really only accommodated about 10 people so larger groups may have to wait a bit.
The Old Third: I think this is one of the smallest wineries in PEC as they only produce a couple varieties and they sell out quickly. The first year we went at the beginning of summer they didn’t have any wine to sell and this year they only had a few hundred bottles of a Pino Noir and a Chardonnay. We ended up buying 3 bottles of the Pino Noir and it was our favourite of the weekend. We also got to chat with one of the owners who was very friendly and told us all about their process. The tasting room is a beautiful old barn so there is lots of room too.
Closson Chase Vineyards: Although Closson Chase doesn’t have my favourite wine the experience we had there was lovely. The winery is one of the prettiest in PEC, they are known for the large purple barn tasting room and old church in the vineyard that is so picture perfect. They have a great little casual restaurant that offers an alternative to the many pizza lunch options at other wineries. Then the outdoor tasting area in the garden is so pretty and relaxing. They are very popular so it can get busy but even though we visited around 1pm we didn’t have an issue getting a spot or getting service.
Half Moon Bay Winery: This is a no frills winery that makes a great product. It’s fairly close to Lighthall in Milford and very under the radar. When we visited we were the only ones there. The owner hopped off his tractor when we arrived and took us into the tasting room. The wine was delicious and it was hard to pick which ones to buy. Although I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit Half Moon Bay, definitely stop by if you are in the southern part of PEC.
For more information on wineries in the region read my complete Prince Edward County Winery Guide!
Most wineries wave the tasting fee if you buy a bottle or two of wine and the price for tastings varies from $2-$5 and many do tasting flights. Never feel obligated to buy the wine if you don’t love it just because you’ve had a tasting as you’ll end up paying more for a wine you don’t love.
Breweries, Cider Houses and Distilleries
County Cider Company: as a cider drinker I made it a priority to visit County Cider Company. They have a beautiful vineyard patio to eat some delicious pizza and of course drink some good cider. It’s really one of the prettiest places in the region with a beautiful view on Lake Ontario from the patio. See my detailed post about our visit to County Cider Company last year here!
Matron Fine Beer: Matron only makes 3 types of beer but they do them really well. Their little brewery in Bloomfield is down a dusty road in an old barn. The bar area has been beautifully renovated so you can relax with a pint.
Kinsip House of Fine Spirits: This is another one of the prettiest places in PEC and it should really be on your list. Kinsip makes great gins, vodka, whisky and other spirits and bitters using ingredients they grow on their farm or that are sourced locally. The old house with the tasting room and the patio area are so pretty. If you don’t want to taste the spirits individually they also have a little cocktail bar so you can try them in a mixed drink. This place does get busy so you may need to get on a waiting list when you arrive and then wander the grounds while you wait.
For more information on cider houses and breweries in the region read my complete Prince Edward County Winery Guide!
Restaurants & Cafes
The County is getting more and more great restaurants every year and it’s impossible to try them all in one weekend trip. Since out B&B served breakfast we didn’t try any brunch places but many on the list here serve up breakfast or a weekend brunch. Many of the wineries and breweries also have food, usual wood fired pizzas.
Beacon Bike + Brew: Picton’s newest coffee shop/bar that doubles as a bike shop. They have a great food menu too with delicious and interesting options.
The Vic Cafe: great cafe in Picton with a vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus, all-day breakfast menu too.
Stella’s Eatery: this turned out the be our favourite place in PEC. They have a seasonal and ever changing menu and an extensive wine list with some really interesting and funky wines. It’s very small and they don’t do reservations so arrive early. There is so much I want to say about how good this place was but I’ll just say go there!!
Flame & Smith: a casual fine dining restaurant with a great fresh menu. Reserve in advance as it just made the long-list of one of Canada’s best new restaurants by enRoute magazine so it’s a popular place. We had a great time and really enjoyed all the food and wine.
The Agrarian Market: great market to pick up pastries, bread, sandwiches, fruits, cheese, meats, preserves, snacks and coffee for a picnic or the drive back home.
Slickers Ice Cream: best ice cream in the County with a spot in Bloomfield and Picton, try the campfire flavour!
Places to try next time!
Drake Devonshire: top hotel in the County with full menus through the day.
La Condesa: new Mexican place with great looking margaritas and tacos in Wellington.
The Agrarian: restaurant and speakeasy in Bloomfield with a small but delicious looking menu and Sunday brunch.
Enid Grace Cafe: cute little cafe in Bloomfield for a light breakfast or lunch.
The County Canteen: good looking pub in Picton with a large craft beer list, live music on weekends.
Bloomfield Public House: trendy looking gastropub with good looking seasonal food.
Idle Wild: a new little Asian restaurant in Wellington that’s been getting some buzz.
Apart from the many wineries, breweries and restaurants in the County there are also great nature areas. In fact you could come to PEC and not visit a single winery and still have lots to do. I still haven’t made it out to any of these places but they’re on my list for next time.
There is Sandbanks Provincial Park with a beach that is popular in summer and for camping. The Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area is an important area for migratory birds and monarch butterflies, where there are a number of walking tails and kayaking/boating areas. The Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory in the wildlife area also runs seasonal programs for those interested in learning more about the area and birds. The 46 km Millennium Trail is also great for biking around from Picton through Bloomfield, Wellington, Hillier and up to Trenton.
Fifth Town Cheese: big selection of cheese, the perfect stop before a picnic or for an evening in at your Airbnb. They have a cheese board for $20 that you can take onto the patio, it was actually a lot of cheese so it’s a good deal.
PEC Lavender: for all your lavender field pictures and lavender scented product needs, annual festival every July.
Honey Pie Hives and Herbals: a great place to buy locally made honey, body products made with honey, tea blends, beeswax candles and mead! I had never tried mead before and it was super fun to taste it and buy a bottle, also it’s made using their honey.
The Parlour Studio: this little plant and pottery shop in Wellington is incredibly cute with a great selection of plants and cute home goods.
Zest Kitchen Shop: great little kitchen shop in Picton where we went to pick up the cutest honey pot that our B&B had. They had a ton of great kitchen stuff.
Wellington Pottery: this great little pottery studio has some really nice stuff for great prices. Also it’s all dishwasher and microwave safe so everything is very functional.
SHED Chetwyn Farms: if you want to see cute alpacas and buy some cozy knit accessories then come here. Alpaca wool is so soft and makes a great gift.
Cylinder Studio: another beautiful pottery studio, this one in Picton. I bought some beautiful ceramic earrings here.
The General: this cute little general store in Wellington has a bunch of local products and they also have a little coffee shop. One of the best things they have here are art posters depicting the different regions in PEC, the perfect inexpensive souvenir.
The first time I visited PEC last summer we stayed in a this nice Airbnb in Picton with a group of friends. Picton was a really ideal place to stay and there are many restaurants, shops and grocery stores in the town. It’s also a good home base to get to all the wineries in the area even though there aren’t many wineries actually in Picton. This year we stayed at The Edward Bed & Breakfast and loved it! Read my full review here!
Below are a few options for places to stay that I haven’t actually tried but that look really nice and that I’d like to maybe stay at in the future. Bloomfield and Wellington also seem like really nice places to stay.
Airbnb is also a really great (and often inexpensive!) option in Prince Edward County, you can find great places for two or houses for a big group. Many of the Airbnb listings are old historic buildings that have been renovated and you can find super cool ones like this renovated 1800 church that looks so pretty, stylish and modern. Also a number of the wineries and farms have accommodation so if you want to stay at the vineyard there is that option too.
So that’s it! All my favourite places from our last two trips to Prince Edward County, plus everything I want to do next time! There is so much to see and do and I’ll definitely be back to do more exploring!
To finish off here are a few more photos from Prince Edward County!