The fall is hands down the prettiest season. I love the fresh, crisp air and the warm golden hues of the foliage. Fall is the perfect time to visit Prince Edward County – the tourist crowd has thinned out from the summer and its quite picturesque. These are only just some of the reasons that a trip to The County should be on your bucket list this fall.
A trip to The County can include anything from touring vineyards & breweries, visiting quaint shops, enjoying the trails, learning about history and culture at the many museums, to consuming delicious local food.
There’s so much to do that you can understand why two days only scratches the surface of a getaway. So rally up your closest BFFs, plan your itinerary, and don’t forget your camera because there’s plenty of photo opportunities to make your Instagram feed look like a lifestyle blogger.
Vroom, Vroom To The Drake Motor Inn
It’s a warm sunny Friday, and the city cousins are joining me in at The Drake Motor Inn in Wellington for a weekend getaway. Our trip will include lots of wine, local food and a healthy dose of dishing.
The Drake Motor inn is the newest addition to The Drake family. It’s often referred to as The Drake Devonshires‘little sister,’ for being down the road. The Drake Motor Inn is retro and nostalgic celebration to classic roadside motels. In signature style, there’s still a modern boutique vibe with art and photography installations added.
Each of the 12-rooms is equipped with a balcony or garden, and there are two communal rooms, the first-ever Drake vending machine (with a funky assortment of items) as well as a background terrace with a fire pit. For a retro-themed motel, there were some cool modern perks such as keyless digital check-ins that make it easy for arrivals and bon voyages.
I was the first to arrive, and it was impossible to miss the location because of its dramatic landmark – a colourful mural on the outside wall. Spanish artist Antonyo Marestdid the backdrop, and it’s his first art installation in Canada.
As you walk in, there are lots of throwbacks to the ’70s with its decor, abstract art installations, and eclectic designs. As Drake’s first-ever in-house designed property, there’s art created by international and Canadian artists. My favourite was in one of the communal rooms,a playful kaleidoscope installation by Jenn Stark.
In our room, there were gorgeous frosted glass doors leading to the washrooms. I later found out that this was done by American artist Roxana Azar.Inside the washrooms, there was a massive rain shower with bath products fromMalin+Goetz and ultra-comfy robes. The beds were comfortable with big fluffy pillows, and there was some yummy caramel popcorn on our vanity as a welcome gift.
After snapping nearly 100 photos (not an exaggeration) of the room, a couple of the cousins arrived. For a perfect start to the weekend, we opened a bottle of rosé and toasted to a good weekend ahead.
Late Night Munchies At Midtown Brewery
After the rest of the cousins arrived, we realized that the kitchen at Midtown Brewery would be shutting down at 9:00 pm, so we ran over to place our order. Luckily, Midtown Brewery is right across fromThe Drake Motor Inn.
Midtown Brewery’slocation is in a former meatpacking plant and just one of the many craft breweries in The County. There’s a shop on site, spacious communal seating where you can see the brew tanks from your table. For a late-night menu, there was a lot to choose from, and everything tasted great!
What We Ordered: Midtown garlic parmesan fries, haddock fish and chips, corn cake with slow-roasted pork, and the MBC Burger with Mac sauce. For beer, I ordered the MBC Kolsch Ale, which was crisp and refreshing, just what I needed to go with my order of fries.
Afterwards, we headed back to The Drake, grabbed some cozy sweaters and joined the communal campfire pit. We weren’t ready to call it a night as we were way too excited for what was in store for the weekend.
But First, We Brunch At The Drake Devonshire
In the morning, we started our day with fresh coffee from the communal kitchen which was much needed after a long night of wine and girl chats! We set out around 10:00 am to enjoy breakfast at The Drake Devonshire – a staple destination in Wellington. The stunning lakeside hotel is the perfect mix of country and modern designs. As you enter into the dining hall, you see huge glass windows and a gorgeous view of Lake Ontario.
Our breakfast was delicious and the mimosas we had went down quickly. There are a million things that I can say about the appetizer scones that we had. I’ll just say that I could’ve eaten every single one on the plate.
What We Ordered: I had the PB + J, sourdough with concord jelly, figs, honeycomb, and sweet potato banana pudding – it was almost too beautiful to eat. My cousins got the brisket tostada bowl with pepitas, fried egg, queso fresco, and the classic Drake breakfast that came with both sausage and bacon. Yum!
After breakfast, we had a mini photoshoot on the limestone beach and took a stroll to work off some of our breakfast. I highly recommend having a meal here or just stopping in for drinks during your stay!
On Cloud Wine With Sandbank Tours
If you’re looking to have a responsible wine hopping weekend then you should contact one of the many tour guides in The County. I connected with Sandbanks Vacations & Tours, who made it very easy to pick out our wineries and book our trip.
Sandbanks Tours offers a variety of tours you can mix and match with your alcohol preference that includes pick up and drop off from your accommodations. They even provide recommendations based on your taste, preferences, and expertise. From the rookie to the wine pro, there’s an unforgettable experience for you.
Our half-day tour included all of our tastings at four different wineries. Anne was our guide and was not only well-connected with the community but also personable throughout the whole day. Let’s get into where we went and what we tried!
Stop 1: Rosehall Run Vineyards
We arrived at our first stop Rosehall Run Vineyards, where we had our first tasting of the day. I chose this spot because from Pinot Noir, to Chardonnay, to sparkling rosé ‘Pixie’ every glass has been good! They offer a wide selection of award-winning County wines, so I was confident it would be a good choice. After the tasting, I got a glass and a bottle of the Hungry Point White which was a blend of Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc Musqué, and Muscat. While we enjoyed our wine, we got a chance to watch the harvesting process from afar!
Stop 2: Hinterland Wine Company
Raise a toast here with all of the bubbles! Hinterland is one of the rare wineries that specializes in sparkling wine. Their wines are made using both the Charmat and traditional methods. Unfortunately, they were sold out of two of my favourites, the Ancestral Rose and the Borealis 2018 Charmat Rose. Sometimes this happens after season for a small batch craft winery. I was able to find another sparkling wine I can like. White Cap is made with Riesling, Vidal and Pinot Gris grapes.
Stop 3: Lacey Estates Vineyard & Winery
The next stop is Lacey Estates! I have wanted to visit here since the summer and boy did it not disappoint! I grabbed a glass and bottle of the Rotary White – another blend of Vidal and Riesling. We then made our way to the porch, overlooking their newest vineyard. So heavenly!
Before our last winery for the day, we took a break and visited the Shed Chetwyn Alpaca Farmand spent time with the Alpacas. We stopped by the Anglican Church, which is owned by Closson Chase. I’ve seen this church photographed all over Instagram and it was nice to see it in person. The roof is made of asphalt shingles in a custom Burgundian style.
Stop 4: Closson Chase Winery
The last stop of the day was at the eye-catching purple barn Closson Chase Winery. The barn is surrounded by beautiful gardens and has an outdoor swing – all perfect for photo opportunities. At this winery, there was something for everyone’s preference but at this point, we were just happy to be together. I bought a glass and a bottle of the Pinot Gris.
With every winery I chose, I rewarded myself with a glass and or a bottle to take home. There are still so many more wineries to check out. Maybe, next time I’ll even try a full tour – haha! After a long day of visiting wineries, we came back to our room and hung out our balcony.
A Perfect Match At Flame & Smith
In the evening, we treated our tastebuds to Flame and Smithout in Bloomfield. This restaurant is one of my favourite in South Eastern Ontario and is recently FeastOn Certified!At Flame and Smith, they believe that food cooked over fire taste better, and after you’ve been there, trust me, you’ll agree.
This sustainably-minded restaurant uses Ontario-sourced food and as many local suppliers as they can. The fresh flavours come through in all of their dishes with different textures and layers. We slowly just ate through the night, savouring every bite.
What We Ordered: To start, we had an order of their house-made sourdough bread, East coast oysters, and Portuguese Caldo Verde soup. I love their chicken liver mousse and pork crackling.
We were treated by the staff to harvested tomatoes on toast with County chevre from Fifth Town, smashed fried potatoes topped with parmesan, and Belgium endive charred from the wood oven and topped with a mornay sauce.
For our mains, I ordered the grass-fed ribeye topped with blue cheese, and my cousins had the cheeseburger, thick-cut Berkshire pork chop with roasted apples. One of my cousins had the cauliflower steak with kimchi brown butter and rapini puree which she described as ‘life-changing’.
After a long day of sipping wine and eating our way through The County, the girls and I just wanted to head back to our room, open a bottle of wine and have ourselves a slumber party.
Walk Like A Local In Picton
The next morning was for sleeping in and taking our time packing up for check out. We headed into Picton to have our last brunch of the weekend at The Vic Cafe. We had a half-hour to burn before our table was ready, so we walked around the main street stopping at different quirky local shops and trendy cafes. We stopped into The Bean Counter Cafe for coffee and sweets, which is where I had THE BEST Millionaire Bar.
We stopped in at Arts On Main Gallery which is owned by local artist and features an assortment of different art pieces. The art scene is one not to miss while visiting The County. Although I’m happy I got to visit at least one gallery, I was looking forward to checking out Andrew Csafordi Studio Gallery, 2 gallery, and Maison Depoivre Art Gallery. There is no shortage of art to explore in The County!
A Brunch Of Comfort Food At The Vic Cafe
After working up quite the appetite and receiving a text that our table was ready, we headed back to The Vic.
The Vic Cafe is a modern diner with a nod to the pop culture of the 1980s and ’90s. Walking in the door, makes you feel happy with their bright white walls, funky decor, and splashes of yellow, pink, and purple. The menu is more comfort food that can be made healthy-ish. This means it can please the palettes of vegans and vegetarians. If you have a food intolerance, I’m positive they can accommodate! As a bonus, the menu has cute captions above the descriptions that are perfect to use for your Instagram photos.
What we ordered: Benny and the jets (avocado mash eggs benedict) salmon benny, bacon, egg cheese sandwich, The Frank – a jumbo hot dog covered in chilli and a cheese grilled chicken sandwich with sundried tomato pesto.
More Than Your Average Barn: The Local
After brunch, it was time to say goodbye to my cousins as they had to start driving back west before traffic began. Once we said our goodbyes, I made my way toThe Local Store.
This two-storey 19th-century restored barn is filled with everything County-crafted. There’s art, woodwork, jewelry, soap products, and treats from over 120 local artists and 30 food producers! I was able to get a head start on my Christmas shopping (which I always source local items) as well as get some help from, Janis, Elizabeth, and Jane for a special giveaway coming up. Stay tuned!
Upstairs you can find a hayloft for antiques and an art gallery. The Local finishes up their season with a Christmas Market & Sale on November 1-3 and closes until April.
Besides having more time, I honestly couldn’t have asked for anything better for this trip! The weather was gorgeous, the wine and food we had were terrific, plus the people we met were all so kind and welcoming. Now is the perfect time to plan your weekend. What are you waiting for? Go. Now.
Extra Things To Do
- Enjoy some pampering hours with spa treatments from Bloomfield Beauty Co.
- Help out with the wine harvest! Many wineries host harvest events where visitors and locals can handpick grapes, get a behind the scenes look at the crushing process and be gifted after with a hearty meal.
- Don’t miss out on the craft breweries and distilleries throughout The County. I’m a fan of Prince Eddy’s and Kinsip Distillery.
- Visit one of the many farms throughout The County and stock up on farm-fresh goodies. I hearCampbell’sis pretty bumpin’ at this time of year.
- Try out the escape room at Macaulay museum and/or at Camp Picton.
- Bird up with guided bird walks at Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory.
Upcoming Fall 2019 Events
Countylicious November 1 – 24
Held twice annually, Countylicious is a set three-course menu at participating restaurants for only $40! At only $40, you can taste an authentic farm to table meal from different restaurants during your stay. Check out which County restaurants are participating and their menus at www.countylicious.com.
Wassail November 16-17 23-24, 30- December 1
Wassail is essentially a celebration of the successful wine harvest in The County. During the last two weekends in November and the first weekend of December, visitors and locals get together to sip mulled wine, enjoy some gourmet eats, and sing a few holiday songs. For bus times and participating wineries check out, www.wassailinthecounty.com.
A special thank you to the folks at The Drake, Sandbanks Tours and Vacations, and Flame & Smith!