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The Weekender: Prince Edward County

See why Canada’s lesser-known wine region is a hidden gem of a vacation destination

Lovingly dubbed ‘The County’ by those who frequent it, Prince Edward County is one of Canada’s trendiest travel locales. It is just a short train from both Toronto and Ottawa and one of Canada’s top wine regions, making it a go-to escape for everyone from the country’s top chefs to chic city dwellers. When you need a break from wine touring, the County – which spans a man-made island on Lake Ontario – is full of hiking paths and over 400 miles of sandy shoreline. Here, our favorite hot-spots to fill a weekend in Prince Edward County with.

Sandbanks Provincial Park

Where to Stay:

In 2016, former Public Relations-guru April Brown and ex-government employee Sarah Sklash left their jobs to combine their love of wine and beautiful designs and open up the hip June Motel in 2016. The restored, retro-inflicted motel has cheeky neons, Millennial-pink walls, and a full range of curated amenities, like a lobby wine bar, a text message concierge, and Saturday morning yoga classes (complete with post-flow mimosas). If your girls are joining you for the weekend, opt for the Rosé Suite. Sleeping 4-5 people, its outfitted with an in-room Rosé Bar and a private balcony.

Rosé Suite at the June Motel (photo credit: Lauren Miller, a Toronto Brand Photographer)

Where to Eat:

When the building at the end of their street went on the market in early 2018, sommelier Laura Borutski and Chef Elliot Reynolds couldn’t ignore it. About seven months later, The Bloomfield Public House opened as an ode to Prince Edward County. An ever-changing menu highlights the best the area’s farms have to offer (like a house-made and butchered charcuterie board of basterma with smoked paprika, and magret of duck with spruce). The beverage pairings list, spanning wine, beer and cider, pulls bottles from some of the coolest growers in the area.

Bloomfield Public House

After a day of wine tasting, opt for a cocktail instead at boutique art hotel The Drake Devonshire. Grab a window seat and take in the views of the lake, or let loose in the games room with a game of ping pong.

The Drake Devonshire (photo credit: Nikolas Koenig)

What to Visit:

When in wine country, well, drink wine. The sandy soil and temperate climate of the County lend themselves to great winemaking, so take the time to explore. To make the most of the day, hire a guide (like sommelier-lead County Sips or Prince Edward County Wine Tours) to do the driving for you.

First, stop into Hinterland Wine Company top sip on Ancestral process Rosé and Traditional Method blanc de blanc, preferably while roasting marshmallows on the fire pit outside their tasting room. Not too far down the road, stop into Trail Estates for funky Pet-Nats and orange wine. Old Third Cider Company, housed in a rustic-meets-modern refurbished barn, has stunning sparkling Pinot Noirs that have been aged on lees for three years, but the ciders are truly unique. Each cider is made with locally grown Golden Russet apples in the traditional method for a finish that boasts elegant, tiny bubbles. Other must-try wines include the Cabernet Franc at Grange, and Keint-He’s Burgundian Pinot Noirs and if you have the opportunity, try a late-harvest or an Ice Wine – they are what Canada is known for after all.

If wine isn’t your thing, stop by Kinsip House of Spirits. This farm-based craft distillery makes everything from Juniper Gins and Bourbon-style whiskey to more innovative offerings like Shochu and Cassis. Wine lovers should check out the Crimson Rye, which is partially aged in a red wine barrel. For a uniquely Canadian souvenir, save room in your suitcase for a bottle of Maple Whiskey or Pine Gin, the later of which makes an excellent martini.

 

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