Picture rolling green hills, beautiful blue lakes, flowering orchards and rows and rows of vineyards. Every front lawn is a work of art, with perfectly cut grass and just the right amount of garnish in the form of brightly colored flowers and weeping willows. The little villages and towns you pass through are filled with art galleries, cottage country boutiques, confectioneries selling artisan cheeses, chocolates and breads, and there’s always the token ice cream shop. Beautiful old Victorian houses, most turned into quaint little B&B’s, line the streets shaded by giant 100 year old maples. This is beautiful Prince Edward County, located on Lake Ontario in southern Ontario, Canada.
I recently visited this picturesque region on a girls getaway weekend and self guided wine tasting tour. The main town of Picton is an easy 3 hr drive from Ottawa and just 2 hours from Toronto, making it the perfect place to step away from city life and enjoy the countryside.
My friend and I drove down on a Saturday morning and headed right to the County Cider Company, located 10 min outside of Picton. This gorgeous estate winery is located right on Lake Ontario and offers a great view of the lake. It’s a cute country farm complete with big beautiful barns and flowering orchards, all located at the end of little country road.
They have a beautiful outdoor restaurant overlooking the vineyards and the lake so we ordered up a fantastic lunch and sipped on Waupoos peach flavoured cider. They are well known for their oven baked pizza and had a BBQ going in their outdoor kitchen.
After a wonderful lunch we wandered their store and sampled the various ciders at their sample bar. For dessert we bought a freshly baked butter tarts that were cooling on the counter.
On our drive to the Cider Company we had passed Waupoos Winery so we retraced our steps and drove few minutes down the road to this beautiful vineyard. Don’t be confused like I was, these are two separate wineries! One specializes in wine, the other cider and both are named after the region.
The shop at Waupoo’s was full of wine paraphernalia and country store gifts which all surrounded the bar where they were serving up samples of your choice of wine. Attached to the store was a chocolatiers filled with delicious candies and artisan chocolates with flavours like Campfire Crunch and Banana Split.
After taste testing a few wines and purchasing a bottle of our favorite, we wandered through an orchard across the road, with rows of various fruit trees all in bloom. It was wonderful to stroll along the fresh grass enveloped in the sweet fragrance of the flowers that covered every tree.
We continued on our tour, driving through the little country village of Bloomfield, visiting 2 more wineries. Prince Edward County is full of approx 30+ wineries so you can easily make up your own itinerary or simply wing it and stop at whatever wineries you happen across. I was a bit overwhelmed with the choice available but luckily my friend had visited this region before and suggested a few wineries for us to visit.
In Picton we had reserved a room at one of the many B&B’s located in a beautiful old Victorian house. The Edwardian House is a grand old house painted a pale yellow with a large yard that included a gazebo. The inside was just what you’d expect for an old turn of the century home. High ceiling, narrow hallways, a large open living room that opened up into a dinning room were we’d enjoy a home cooked breakfast in the morning. Upstairs my friend and I shared a little room with two beds and had our own private bathroom across the hall.
We met our wonderful hosts, Silvina and Paul, and chatted with them about possible dinner options. My friend had heard of the Lake On The Mountain Resort which promised beautiful views while dining. Paul said that the views were spectacular so we headed off, driving for only about 10 min.
As we pulled into the parking lot our eyes were drawn to the incredible view of The Bay of Quinte, an inlet of Lake Ontario. On the drive we had gained 60 meters in elevation and were now looking down onto the lake stretching out to the east and the west.
Just across the road, beside the resort we spotted the little Lake On The Mountain which was level with our current elevation. It was incredible to see Lake Ontario, so far down on one side, and the little lake sitting just across the road on the other.
Exploring our dining options, we discovered that there were two possibilities: The Miller House, which overlooked The Bay of Quinte from its beautiful stone patio, or The Inn, a cute old stone pub with an adjoining patio located across the road, right beside Lake On The Mountain. While we wanted the view of Lake Ontario, the menu featured appetizers only, serving various charcuterie plates. The Inn offered a full dinner menu so we headed across the road after snapping some pictures.
We sat on the patio beside the lake and enjoyed a meal while sipping beer from the Lake On The Mountain brewery. As we finished dinner the sun was just beginning to set so we wander back across the road to The Miller House to watch the show.
The next day we joined the two other couples who were also staying at the Edwardian for a delicious home cooked breakfast. Our hosts were serving a vegetarian meal of fruit salad with yogurt, home made keish with a side of veggies, and yummy freshly baked muffins.
After checking out we drove down to Sandbanks Provincial Park. This is a stunning provincial park, popular for family camping and famous for the beautiful, all-natural sand beaches. Its located right on Lake Ontario and the color of the water here made me feel like I was back in the Caribbean again.
My friend and I went for a walk along one of the trails and admired the incredible views of the crystal clear lake. Since we were at Sandbanks we had to check out the famous beaches. We headed to West Lake and grabbed a small patch of sand, watching as families began to arrive for an afternoon.
Stopping for ice cream in Bloomfield in the early afternoon, we headed out of town on the drive back to Ottawa. I’ve never been on a weekend get away quit like this before (I’m usually hiking, camping, snowboarding or taking part in a sport of some sort) but this proved to be a much needed, relaxing vacation. After the long hard Canadian winter we had, it was refreshing to be in the lush green countryside, trapezing from one blooming winery to the next.