Prince Edward County Vineyards

Whoops, I thought this posted on Sunday, but I guess the effects of the Canadian power-outage were still being felt.  High winds were knocking down power lines, Molson Goldens, and Rick Moranis everywhere you looked.  Crazy.

Note:  Get ready for an announcement about the completion a project I’ve been working on later this week.


Here is a piece I wrote and tried to shop around as my first attempt at “freelancing.”  Obviously it didn’t get picked up first time around, but I’m ready to try again this winter for spring publishing, and I’ll be better prepared this time around.  So if anyone out there is an editor, or knows an editor, of a publication that could use a piece like this, let me know.  I know it needs to be shortened a bit, but I will take this down from here to do so in a heartbeat.

Prince Edward’s Vineyards

By Jonathan Sadowski


When most New Englanders here “Canada” and “Prince Edward” in the same sentence, they instantly think of waves crashing on rocky shores and ferries from Boston Harbor.  A little known fact is Prince Edward not only had an island north of the border named after him, but also a peninsula.  Located 450 miles northwest of Boston, Prince Edward County, in Southern Ontario Province, offers as much wine, art, and relaxation per square mile, excuse me per kilometer, than anywhere else on the map.

One may not think Ontario and wine together, but the peninsula has a unique and inviting mix of beach-going, artistic, and agricultural flare that offers an exciting stay no matter who you are. There are countless art, music, and maple syrup festivals at different times throughout the year, but there is a nonstop celebration of the areas vineyards in the tasting rooms throughout the county. With a map, a car, and a cleansed palette, visitors to the area can embark on quest to over 30 restaurants and wineries in search of the perfect setting to fit their food and drink tastes.

The late 1990’s and early 2000’s saw an explosion of new vineyards begin to sprout up throughout the area.  It’s weather is tempered by the Lake and helps create a marvelous climate for growing fruits, vegetables, and hay. Situated two and a half hours east of Toronto and a four hours west of Montreal made it the perfect setting for entrepreneurs to a) get away from the big cities, and b) sink their roots into the labor of love that is wine making.  While still in their infancy, wines from “The Country” are already gaining international acceptance and winning awards along the way.  “What makes wine from this area special,” says James Lahti, owner of Long Dog Winery in Milford, Ontario, “is the richness of the soil.  Everything grows well in this soil because it’s made mostly of ground up, fossilized seashells.  The vines draw up all that calcium, giving our wines a unique minerality and acid structure.” Most vintners agree, creating a sustainable and profitable business is a twenty year process, “10 years for the vines, 10 for the reputation,” according to Lahti.  Most of the wineries in PEC are a little over a decade old.  Visiting the area now allows a view into an evolving and growing industry, a chance to meet vineyard owners who will be grateful for your visit, and a certain degree of self satisfaction 15 years from now when Prince Edward County wines are everywhere (“Yeah, I helped that/those company(s) out when they were just starting out.”).

Following the wine tour map to all or most of its 32 destinations will allow guests to ride through historic country roads and view scenery not easily found in New England.  The land is much flatter than that of the Northeast US, which provides sweeping views and slightly longer days, allowing time to sneak in that last tasting at that last vineyard.  The area is also home to many historical landmarks and classic country homes.  A proud “Loyalist” territory, The County was a refuge for subjects loyal to the crown, Quakers, and other groups who set out off the US shores of Lake Ontario to escape the ire of the rowdy revolutionaries we all know and love.  The sense of history is prevalent throughout the county and adds to the je ne sais quais that makes a trip to The County such an enjoyable experience.

Although wine making is an up and coming industry / attraction in PEC, there is also plenty to do for those not interested or not legally allowed to sample wine.  Visitors typically use the town of Picton (population 4,370) as their hub when visiting.  It’s bustling, historic downtown area is home to plenty of hotels, motels, and B&Bs, three grocery stores, a movie theater, and numerous gift shops, art galleries, and coffee shops.  A short drive from the center, Sandbanks Provincial Park is a sprawling beach with ample, accessible parking and clear water free of heavy surf, making it the perfect spot for the family to spend the day frolicking, catching some rays, or building sandcastles (a VERY common activity for locals).  A visit to will show just how easy it is to fill up a week with bike tours, art studios, golfing, bird / butterfly watching, diving and boating, farm tours, and of course lounging on the shores of Lake Ontario.

With so many recreation and libation choices and such little time, caution is needed to avoid missing what Lahti touts as the area’s biggest attraction.  “The roads and the people.  Just pick a road and start heading down it. If you like the looks of a house, pull over, the people living there will probably invite you in,” and with the ever-growing likelihood that house will be in the business of making wine, that suggestion is very tempting.

Wine. Beach. History. Recreation. Culture. People.  Each one would be reason enough to visit some places.  With all that and more on a 405 square mile peninsula, Prince Edward County is a great bet for whatever you’re into.

Where to stay:

The Waring House, Picton, ON – With four and five star accommodations 2 miles from downtown Picton, guest can enjoy their stay in cozy, classic rooms, or quiet, Quaker cabins located on the property.  It is also home to two restaurants, a cooking school, and an artist in residence.

The Calramont Inn & Spa, Picton, ON – Massages, mud masques, and culinary delights await all who visit this restored colonial mansion on Main St. in Picton.  The antique décor and views of Lake Ontario offer guests an unforgettable stay.

Jackson’s Falls Country Inn, Milford, ON – See the countryside in all its glory in this Bed & Breakfast located in the village of Milford.  Enjoy days soaking in the clean crisp air and bucolic scenery, and unwind at night in the common area, which was formerly a schoolhouse built in 1870.

How to get there:

There are numerous flights from Boston to Toronto, with easy access to rental cars.  Two and a half hours east on route 401, following the signs to Prince Edward County, will get you there.

Driving directions:

Take I-90 W to Syracuse, NY.  Merge onto I-81N and follow to the U.S. – Canada border.  Follow signs to Route 401W.  Exit 566 to rt 49 will lead right into Picton Center (approx 8 hrs. drive time)

Thanks for reading everyone!!  Happy Halloween!!!  Happy Sox Parade Day!!


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