Prince Edward County Winery Guide – 2021 Update

Canada, Ontario, Prince Edward County, Travel

Prince Edward County has now become an annual trip with so much to do and so many lovely places to visit. The region has really exploded in the last 5 years and now there is just so much to do. One of the big draws is all the wineries, there are now over 40! Between my four trip I’ve visited a good number of wineries and vineyards. This guide has my favourites, some other solid places, ones we won’t be back to and ones I hope to go to on my next visit. I’ve also thrown in a cider house, distillery and brewery that are too good to miss. Be sure to check out my complete PEC travel guide too!

This new updated guide combines information published in my previous guides with new insight from subsequent visits as we visited new places and some of the ones we visited previously weren’t as great the second time around. To start things off lets get to my favourites!

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Vineyard at Closson Chase Winery

Top 5 Favourite Wineries

Hinterland Wine Company: Hinterland is known for their sparkling wines and for good reason. They’re 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 do a special release each year of low intervention wines in collaboration with the chef/owner of Joe Beef in Montreal, so be sure to look out for the I’mparfait Negociant series! 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. Note: Covid-19 safety measures are in effect and they only offer tastings by advanced reservation. But you can still go an enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle outside, they also offer curbside pick-up, or you can shop online.

Hinterland Wine Company

Lighthall Vineyards: Lighthall is in the Milford area of PEC and easy to get to if you’re coming from the East. They’re pretty small but their wine is impressive. They stood out on our first 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. My favourite wines are the sparklings as well as their First Contact orange wine. Note: Covid-19 safety measures are in effect and they only offer tastings by advanced reservation. Bottles can still be picked up at the winery in person or for curbside pick-up, they also have a new online shop where you can also buy their cheeses.

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Lighthall Vineyards

Cape Vineyards: We decided to visit this winery last minute on the last day of our trip over Labour Day weekend last year. We were driving to Fifth Town Cheese which is right next door and decided to stop buy not really knowing what to expect since Cape Vineyards didn’t have a website at the time. We ended up not only having some great wine but also had some delicious food. They have a lovely patio and the staff were very friendly. A little bonus is that they have a bunch of farm animals that you can visit around the side of the parking area. Note all their wines are amazing but the standouts are the Skin Contact Orange Vidal and Gypsy Lola that are worth grabbing some bottles of. Note: Covid-19 safety measures are in effect. Tastings are offered but they have limited capacity, you can reserve in advance online.

Traynor Family Vineyard: Traynor was the surprise of the weekend when we visited over Labour Day last year too. It was a really memorable experience both in terms of the great wine and the friendly staff. When we arrived there was a bit of a wait due to limited capacity as a Covid-19 safety measure, but we were invited to wander the vineyard and look at the grapes while we waited. All the wines we tried were fantastic and they do some fun experimental wines and also make some amazing vermouths. They assistant wine maker did our tasting and he explained everything to us which really helped us to appreciate the wine. When we inquired about other wines that weren’t on the set tasting list for the day he brought us over samples of those too. We will definitely be back next year. Note: Covid-19 safety measures are in effect. Tastings are available on the patio but there is limited capacity and you can reserve in advance online. Bottles can be bought at the winery or online.

Trail Estates Winery: Trail Estates has become a favourite of ours over the past year. We first tried their wine after buying it online during the first pandemic lockdown and loved it! Then we visited the winery for the first time during our day trip in July and had a lovely relaxing time outside on their patio. Our second visit during the Labour Day weekend was much more hectic but the wine was still good even though it was crowded and the lines were long. Any of their special release wines and Pet-Nat wines are worth getting, as well as their funky Supersonic. Fluffy Cloud and Oh Julius wines. Note: Covid-19 safety measures are in effect. Tastings only by private advance appointment but you can still get wine by the glass to enjoy outside and buy bottles inside or online.

Trail Estates Winery

Favourite Cider Houses, Brewery & Distillery

County Cider Company: This has been my first stop on both my visits to PEC. It’s one of the prettiest locations with a view on Lake Ontario. The cider is great and even if you’re not a big cider drinker it’s worth a stop for lunch on the patio for some wood fired pizza. The tasting room is in an old barn that is notable for the big barn quilt on the front, you can find these folk art pieces all over PEC. Note: Covid-19 safety measures are in effect. Tastings are offered by advanced reservation only. It is recommended to make a reservation for the patio, and drinks are currently only offered in pints, not flights.

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County Cider Company

Fieldbird Cider: Fieldbird has become our favourite cider in PEC even though we’ve never actually been to their farm for a visit, yet I can confidently say it’s worth going to. During the pandemic we’ve bought a bunch of their cider online and it’s all been fantastic. Currently they are only open on weekends and you can reserve a tasting at the farm in advance online, or shop their walkup retail window or online.

Matron Fine Beer: Matron has some of the best beer in PEC and we visit every time as well as shop their beer online throughout the year. Their little brewery in Bloomfield is down a dusty road in an old barn and they have a nice big patio. The bar area has been beautifully renovated so you can relax with a pint. Note: Covid-19 safety measures are in effect. No indoor dining or tastings at this time. Beer and food are available on the patio, weather permitting. Cans are available or purchase at the brewery or online for delivery to Ottawa, Kingston/PEC and Toronto.

Matron Fine Beer

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. Note: Covid-19 safety measures are in effect. Tastings are only being offered by advanced reservation. To purchase bottles they have set up a drive through store.

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Kinsip House of Fine Spirits

Other Excellent Wineries Worth Visiting

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 last 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. This winery was narrowly knocked off the favourites list and only because they are such a small producer which means you could visit and they may have nothing to offer versus other wineries that will always have a few wines available. Note: Covid-19 safety measures are in effect, check their various social medias for updates. They have also started offering food on weekends through restaurant/chef pop-ups, check social media for updates.

The Old Third Vineyard & Winery

Redtail Vineyards: This small producer is a little further away from the main action in PEC since they are located over in Consecon but they make some great wines. We only visited briefly to buy some bottles during our day trip in July and weren’t able to do a tasting because of Covid-19 safety measures. When we got home and tried the wine we loved it and will definitely be back, hopefully for a longer visit where we’ll be able to do a tasting.

Closson Chase Vineyards: Although Closson Chase doesn’t have my favourite wine the experience we had their 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, this summer it’s being done by The Marans, a great place in Picton. 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. This ones was on my favourites list in previous years but has since been bumped down since although it’s a nice experience there, their wine just isn’t as good as others.

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Closson Chase Vineyards

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 in the bar. 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. Another one I’ve had to bump off the favourites list this year, not because their wine isn’t great, but it’s lacking a bit overall in terms of experience and a bit out of the way. But still totally worth visiting if you’re near by.

Other Good Wineries

Hubbs Creek Vineyard: This little family run vineyard makes a great wine. It’s another no frills winery and easy to hit as it’s in the Hillier area close to many wineries.

Long Dog Vineyard & Winery: The first time we visited PEC Long Dog was our favourite, we had a great intimate experience and the wine was delicious. This time when we visited the wine was still good but the experience/serve wasn’t very good. It really depends on who is serving you. If you are visiting wineries in the Milford area stop by but don’t go out of your way as the experience can be a mixed bag, although it is really pretty there.

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Long Dog Vineyard & Winery

Three Dog Winery: We stopped by Three Dog Winery on our way out of PEC for lunch since they offer wood-fired pizza. They have a big outdoor patio on the grass beside the vines which was perfect for social distancing during Covid. There was also live music which was super relaxing and a great way to end our trip. Although the pizza was only okay and so were the wines we picked up a couple bottles basically as table/cooking wine since it’s cheap. Although I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit it was nice to go and a good one to stop at on your way in our out of PEC.

Morandin Wines: This little winery hasn’t been open very long but their wine was pretty good. Although I wouldn’t go out of my way for them if you’re passing by it’s a decent stop and it’s less known so it’s less likely to be very busy.

Grange of Prince Edward Winery: This winery is maybe one of the prettiest in PEC with a beautiful old barn. The wines are pretty good and they do some experimental stuff as well which is cool. We haven’t yet gone to the winery for a tasting but I’ve tried their wines from the LCBO. During our day trip in July we did stop by for lunch though since they had a little gourmet hotdog food truck pop-up with some great cocktails. Hopefully on our next visit we can try a wine tasting too. Note that is does get busy so plan to visit first thing maybe to avoid crowds and large groups.

The Grange of Prince Edward Winery

Parsons Brewing Company: This brewery close to Picton has some great beers and lots of variety. They have a big area and also serve food. Although it’s not a must do for us, if you’re more into beer than wine definitely stop by.

Honey Pie Hives & Herbals: If you’re interested in mead then this place is definitely worth a visit. I’d never tried mead before so I was very excited to visit Honey Pie Hives & Herbals on our first visit to PEC. They have so many bees and makes a ton of wax and honey products, included mead. It’s very close to Lighthall Vineyards so worth dropping by if you’re in the Milford area ad curious about mead.


Wineries We Won’t Be Back To

Broken Stone Winery: We had a nice time visiting Broken Stone but the wines are only okay. The staff are very friendly and the atmosphere was great when we visited last year. We sat on their patio and they brought over some bread with olive oil so eat with our wine. They also had live music which made the whole experience very memorable. But ultimately I’m going to a winery for good wine and Broken Stone was just okay.

Huff Estates Winery: The first time we visited Huff we had a nice experience and a decent lunch but the next time the experience was very different. It was very busy as is expected on a Saturday afternoon but we were completely ignored. Even when we made it up to the bar when some room cleared no one made eye contact with us or acknowledged us. We waited about 15-20 minutes without anyone speaking to us and left without tasting any wine. Although we really like their Vidal we won’t be back and cannot recommend it, there are so many nicer and better places in PEC. Also since they are a larger winery a large portion of their grapes actually come from Niagara.

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Vines at Hinterland Wine Company

Karlo Estates: Although the wine was pretty good it wasn’t a favourite and it gets busy. Also the overall experience and level of service just wasn’t there and I felt it was a little overpriced. We went on our first visit to PEC but skipped it this time.

Casa-Dea Estates Winery: This is a larger winery in the region and it definitely has more of a corporate feel. The tasting room has a gift shop with cheesy wine signs like “it’s wine o’clock”. The wines themselves weren’t great and overall were a bit sweet. Not a great experience and not great wine so give it a pass.

Waupoos Winery: Although the winery is pretty the experience was very similar to Casa-Dea Estates. The wine wasn’t great and was fairly sweet and the tasting room isn’t very nice with those cheesy wine signs. Another one to pass on.

We’ve also visited a few breweries that were okay but that we probably won’t be back to: 555 Brewing Co. (right on Picton Main St. but it pub itself is nice) and Barley Days Brewing. PEC has a growing number of cider houses but not all are great. Clafeld Cider House was good and they had interesting flavours but it wasn’t as nice of an experience overall as County Cider Company. But it is just down the road so it’s any easy stop and they have a food market. I also tried Crimson Cider Company for the first time on my last visit and wasn’t impressed, they had a lot of flavoured ciders that were just too sweet and didn’t taste very good.

Redtail Vineyards

Wineries For The Next Visit

Driving around PEC you pass so many wineries that looks nice and interesting but the problem is there are so many places but only so much time to visit them all. We already have a list of places we’d like to visit next time. We’re especially looking out for natural wines, orange wines and other unique varieties.

Some wineries on our list for next time are Stanner Vineyard, Gravel Hill Vineyards, Exultet Estates and Del-Gatto Estates Vineyard.

There are a growing number of breweries and cider houses in PEC and I’d like to try. Settlers Cider Co. is one I’ve yet to visit that is on my list for next time. Also Slake Brewing just opened up in October last year and looks great so it’s definitely one to try on our next visit.

Grapes at Hinterland Wine Company

I hope to be back in Prince Edward County again soon to return to my favourite places and try some new ones! Read my complete Prince Edward County Travel Guide for more! And read all my posts about Prince Edward County here!

7 thoughts on “Prince Edward County Winery Guide – 2021 Update

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