If you’ve visited this blog before you’ll know that I love Prince Edward County, it’s the perfect country escape in Ontario with wineries, breweries and good food galore! Although we have plans to visit at the end of September with family we couldn’t resist doing a little day trip in PEC. We told ourselves it was to scout places to visit with our family but that was really just a lame excuse. On this trip we did make a point of visiting some new places, or at least new to us. So come along for a little review of our day in PEC. I’ll also be updating my full PEC Travel Guide and my PEC Winery Guide in September after our next visit.
Most people think of Prince Edward County as a weekend trip but it is possible to do it as a day trip from Ottawa if you get an early start. We left Ottawa around 7am and got to PEC just before 10am. Our first stop in PEC has become Piccolina in Wellington. Their cute cafe/bar has the most amazing Italian pastries and we struggle to not buy one of everything. They now have a little patio which means you can enjoy your coffee and pastries even more instead of inhaling them in your car. We arrived just before 10am and were surprised not to see a giant line like the other times we’ve been. But one did start to form just after 10am so pro tip, get there before 10am. You’ll probably still have to wait a bit since they only allow a limited number of people inside due to Covid restrictions but it’s well worth the wait.
After our little breakfast we headed to our first winery. The Wellington/Hillier area of PEC is where most of the wineries are and you could almost walk between many of them if the road weren’t so bad. So if you do decide to do a day trip I’d recommend just staying in this area to maximize your time. We decided to visit By Chadsey’s Cairns, which is one of the older wineries in the region. We’d never been before and were really pleasantly surprised by the whole experience. The wines were great, the staff were super friendly and knowledgable, the winery was pretty and it has a really interesting history that you should definitely ask about. The only downside is that they aren’t producing anymore wine and will be closing at some point in the future. So if you want to visit go sooner rather than later before they sell off their remaining stock and close up shop.
Next up was Redtail Vineyards at the far end of PEC. We visited last year just to buy some bottles since they weren’t doing tastings due to Covid. Even though we’ve tried most of their wines already I wanted to go back for a tasting in the name of research for when we visit again in September with our family. I’m happy to report back that the experience was great, as were the wines and it’s very dog friendly if you’re travelling with a pup. Also dog friendly is Stanners Vineyard that we visited next. Although the wines weren’t my favourite in PEC they were really good and they have a great little patio for tastings. The real highlight through was the friendly old labrador visitings everyones tables to make sure they were doing okay. Another little tip for visiting PEC is that cell coverage can be pretty spotty so make sure you save your Google map offline and also maybe create a little map with all the places you want to visit pinned. Luckily we’ve been enough times that I have a general idea of where places are since I forgot to save the offline map this time.
Then it was times for some food. We decided to return to the Grange of Prince Edward Winery for their Old Salt Cocktail pop-up that we visited last year and loved. We actually have never done a tasting at the Grange as their wines are more on the expensive side and they sell less expensive ones at the LCBO that are pretty good, but the winery is really pretty. If you’re looking for some food and maybe a cocktail definitely check out Old Salt Cocktails though since they are really good. Many of the wineries have food pop-ups through the summer or serve pizza so it’s pretty easy to find food without going over to Wellington, Bloomfield or Picton for lunch. Some good ones in the same area with food offerings are Closson Chase, The Old Third and Huff Estates. Although Wellington and Bloomfield aren’t too far and have great food options.
With some food in our stomachs it was time to do some more tastings, this times some cider. There are a lot of cider places in PEC that are often overlooked. Cider is becoming more elevated and is being treated more like wine at a lot of places and I have to say they are delicious. We decided to try a relatively new place called Cold Creek Vineyards. The owner have actually grown grapes in PEC for many years and sells them to wineries but have recently started to produce cider. Now we’ve visited a lot of places in PEC over the last few years and have had some great experience and some not so great experiences. Well hands down our best experience in PEC was at Cold Creek Vineyards! From the moment we pulled up to the beautiful old barn and heard jazz music playing to the moment we walking off with a half case of cider everything was perfect. The setting was beautiful out beside the vines, the owners were so friendly and great to talk to and the cider, oh my god was it good! It’s so easy to drink bad, overly sweet cider that tastes nothing like the fruit. This cider was the best I’ve ever had and I’ve tried a lot of different ciders. Not only is the my favourite cider place in PEC but it’s probably my favourite place period. Even if you’re not a cider drinker you should visit, they’ll change your mind about it.
After that amazing experience we moved on to the next at Fieldbird Cider, another recent addition to the county doing delicious and interesting things with cider. We’ve ordered a lot of their products online during the pandemic but this was our first visit and it was great. Everything we tasted was amazing and the staff were super friendly and knowledgable. Many of their ciders take an experimental approach and are barrel aged and biodynamic. They also work with a lot of heritage varieties and mystery ones that are planted in their orchards. While there we were also able to grab some food from the Paper Kite pop-up happening. I forgot to take a photo but the Asian street food bites were had were delicious!
After the cider it was time for some beer so we drove over to another new addition to PEC, Slake Brewing. They have a beautiful location up on a hill and if they are open for sunset during your visit you should try to go late. Unfortunately it threaten to rain all day when we were there so we didn’t want to chance staying too long. Although it was very, very busy when we visited around 5pm the line moved well and we had no trouble finding seating outside. The downside was that by the time were went they were pretty much sold out of all their food and the saucisson we ordered to snack on came un-cut without a knife to cut it with ourselves so we couldn’t even eat it. Given that they haven’t been open long I will give them some slack but it wasn’t the best experience. However, the beer was good and I was able to try their cherry beer that they only have on tap which was excellent.
Since we weren’t able to get food at Slake Brewing and weren’t sure about trying to find a patio for dinner in Picton with the potential rain we went to our old reliable favourite, Matron Fine Beer. It was close to closing time but we were still able to order some delicious food and since the patio had umbrellas we were protected when the rain started.
It was so great being back in Prince Edward County for the day and to visit some new places. We came home with a bunch of wine and can’t wait to return again with our family in the fall. Be sure to check out all my PEC content for more ideas on where to visit, you can find them all here!