Prince Edward County is one of Canada’s best (and littlest) wine regions with so much to offer, and only 3 hours from Ottawa. We’ve visited the County 4 times and there is still so much to explore in 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 updated 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. The first time 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 we now stick to the smaller wineries/vineyards for the most part, returning to our favourites from previous years while always trying some new ones. Be sure to check opening times on websites before going, especially in the off season. Also all places will have Covid-19 restrictions in place that may require advance reservations to do tastings so check their websites/social for that information.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Closson Chase Winery: 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. 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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. Right now with Covid-19 many wineries are choosing only to offer wine by the glass and tastings only my reservation to limit contact with staff. Be sure to check their websites and social media for updates on regulations, offerings and hours.
Breweries, Cider Houses and Distilleries
County Cider Company: This has been my first stop on all 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. See my detailed post about our visit to County Cider Company here!
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.
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. Many of the wineries and breweries also have food. We often eat lunch at the wineries/breweries since the food is good and it’s very convenient instead of driving into Wellington, Bloomfield or Picton.
Beacon Bike + Brew: Picton’s best coffee shop/bar that doubles as a bike shop. They have a great food menu too with delicious and interesting options. We’ve also tried their breakfast offerings which are great.
The Vic Drive-In: This place in Picton used to be a cafe with a vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus but they have since transitioned to more of an old-school diner.
Stella’s Eatery: this has become 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!! They also have a patio out back.
Piccolina Italian Mercato & Bar: formerly Enid Grace cafe, her new restaurant in Wellington is amazing with the best pastries. On our most recent trips we start our big winery visiting day by grabbing a box of treats. They also have savoy items, market items and a bar. It gets busy so expect a line anytime in the morning/afternoon.
Flame & Smith: a casual fine dining restaurant with a great fresh menu. Reserve in advance as it made the long-list of one of Canada’s best new restaurants by enRoute magazine a couple years ago so it’s a popular place. We had a great time and really enjoyed all the food and wine.
Sand & Pearl Oyster Bar: great seafood restaurant close to Sandbanks, they also have non-seafood options. Be sure to make a reservation as it gets very busy given its proximity to the beach.
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: a Mexican place with great looking margaritas and tacos in Wellington.
Koenji Whisky Bar: the Korean sister restaurant to La Condesa in Wellington.
The Marans Dinebar: a new-ish restaurant in Picton with a fresh and interesting looking menu, they are already expanding to a new space in summer 2021
BANTAM: The Marans new sister wine bar restaurant with an equally good looking menu.
Bloomfield Public House: trendy looking gastropub with good looking seasonal food. Since the pandemic they have transitioned to being more of a market that stocks to-go and freezer meals as well as local products.
Idle Wild: a little Asian restaurant in Wellington with great looking food.
Bermuda: tropical inspired and delicious looking in Wellington.
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 all 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.
Keep: a cute little shop in Picton with home decor and fashion accessories.
Field Made Goods: a shop featuring products from a few local PEC artisans.
Wellington Farmers Market: checkout one of the larger markets in the region of Saturdays in Wellington where you can find plenty of local producers, artisans and farmers.
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.
The first time I visited PEC 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! We also stayed at The Edwards Skyward Cabin, read about it here! I’d definitely recommend trying to stay at one of the local hotels/B&Bs/motels versus an Airbnb if you can.
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.
The Ferg, Angelines Inn, Drake Devonshire, Drake Motor Inn, The June Motel, Lake on the Mountain Resort, Merrill House, Wander the Resort, Lyttleton and The Wilfrid. A number of the wineries and farms also 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 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!