A comfortable two hour drive from Toronto along the northern shore of Lake Ontario will take you to the newest wine- and gastronomic region of the province.
Located around the beautiful and tranquil Bay of Quinte, this county has been always an agriculturally important and blessed corner of the province.
Prince Edward County is definitely a cool climate-growing region with 1400 sunshine hour per season, and on north latitude 44 N, the same as Burgundy. Winters are cold, requiring vineyard site selections that face south and east with extra labour involved to bury vines for winter damage protection. The soils range from clay/loam to sandy/clay, and clay with mixed chalk. Some growers planted chardonnay, riesling, Seyval Blanc, pinot gris, gewurztraminer, cabernet franc and Pinot Noir. Others are experimenting with hybrids!
Presently there are about 250 hectares under vine and some growers have suffered substantial losses during the severe winter of 2002. Gastronomically, the country offers a few restaurants to satisfy even the most discriminating diners. Waupoos Winery on the shore of the Bay offers fine fare as does Waring House, and Carmela (formerly Peddlesden) and Hotel Merill Inn in Picton.
Torontonians interested in wine would do well to spend a day or two in this quiet county enjoying the vistas and unhurried life.
Chadsey Cairn Winery owners Vida Zalnierinnas and Richard Johnson accomplished a lot by creating fine Gewurztraminers and Mosel-style, light, fragrant Rieslings. Converting old barns and buildings created this modern winery.
Waupoos Winery, overlooking the calm waters of the Bay of Quinte is the oldest and largest of the four wineries in Prince Edward County. It operates a restaurant that serves good food.
The tasting room and boutique winery offer samples (for a small charge per serving) of some of their wines.
Closson Chase is tucked away from the highway, but it is well worth a visit, as it is considered to be one of the best white wine producers of Canada.
Rosehill Run Vineyards and Winery is relatively new and well respected for its finely balanced chardonnay and pinot noir wines.
Norman hardie enjoys an excellent reputation amongst wine drinkers in the province.
County Cider Company is an estate winery overlooking the Bay of Quinte and specializes in cider, but the winemaker has planted a few hectares of chardonnay and riesling on chalky and pebbly, well-drained soils. The vineyards are exposed south east to benefit most of the sunshine and heat units. County Cider Company’s wines tasted proved to be good and potentially very good once the vines have achieved a higher level of maturity.