This small county on the north shore of Lake Ontario has made a name for itself in the 12 years after the first vineyards were planted. Most of the vineyards are south of Picton (the largest town), and west of it.
Winemakers began flocking to Prince Edward County when the word spread that the limestone-rich soil was similar to that of Burgundy, except that winters are much colder here than there.
“County” wineries are small. Some produce 2000 – 3000 cases; a few double or triple that. We can confidently say that “County” wines are “hand crafted”.
Some of the wineries pout their wines in traditional tasting rooms, others let visitors sample in more modest facilities, and a few boast state-of-the art counters. In most cases the owners conduct vineyard tours and explain their winemaking philosophy.
Only two hours drive from Toronto on the 401-highway east, the County will delight you with its quaint restaurants, small hotels, and friendly bed and breakfast accommodations.
Here, chardonnay, Riesling, pinot noir, Geisenheim clones thrive. Most of the wines are light to medium-weight, fruity, lively and easy to enjoy.
The winery most famous for its chardonnays and pinot noirs is Closson-Chase.
Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyards features mostly unfiltered and flavourful wines.
Keint-He Winery and Vineyards specializes in pinot noir and chardonnay. Karlo Estates offers a range of wines from cabernet sauvignon to riesling, and everything in between, and The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery offers only estate grown white and red wines.
Huff Estates Winery is known for its aromatic chardonnays and sparkling wines, as is Casa-Dea Estates Winery.
Exultet Estates has recently won a prestigious award for its excellent chardonnay 2011.
Lighthall Vineyards specializes in sparkling wines, and Rosehall Run Vineyards is best known for its elegant chardonnays.
VQA (Vintners Quality Assurance) designation was awarded 2007 five years after the first vineyards were planted.