Say hello to two days in winter paradise!
For this particular adventure, Heidi created a solid itinerary that took us through The County’s thriving wine and craft beverage scene, as well as local farmers markets, dining venues – and an overnight stay at the famous Huff Estates Winery & Inn. The end result was a humbling experience that we won’t soon forget.
A Venerable Craft Lives On At Canadian Vinegar Cellars
Our first destination was: Black Prince Winery which is also the home of Canadian Vinegar Cellars. We started our visit with a tour of the Barrel House with none other than the Master Cooper himself, Pete Bradford.
While there are no barrel-making demonstrations during the winter months, Pete was kind enough to show us around the Barrel House, and the variety of vinegar at different stages of the ageing process. Stepping into the storage house was like stepping through time, and into the golden age of manual craftsmanship.
Some of the barrels in the cooperage were close to a century old – and others were newer creations or works in progress. As I took in my surroundings, they told a story of not only Pete’s passion for making barrels but his relationship with the raw materials and a discipline born of our industrial heritage. It was a fascinating fusion of dedication, craftsmanship and art.
Sampling The Wares At Black Prince Winery
After our tour through the barrelhouse, we returned to the main building to visit Black Prince’s retail store. It was there that we met up with General Manager: Geoff Webb. Black Prince offers an impressive variety of award-winning and uniquely local wines and vinegar that encompass an intriguing range of flavour profiles.
Heidi sampled several of the kinds of vinegar with Pete, while I joined Geoff for a sampling of Black Prince’s wines.
Heidi enjoyed the Canadian Cellars Peach Vinegar, a sweet, and natural wine-based vinegar aged in 100-year-old Oak Spanish Pipes. She also liked the “Holy Cow” vinegar, which is derived from pinot noir and barrel-aged for 17 years. She described it as a “robust and sharp flavour that would make a great marinade for roast beef or lamb.”
Over at the tasting bar, I tried a fascinating selection of wines. My red wine of choice would have to be Solaras Cask Local Apera. This striking red is aged in 80-year-old Spanish Sherry Casks using 12-year-old their Chardonnay. It had sweet notes of dried fruit and a mildly nutty finish giving it an entirely unique flavour.
For white wine, I was delighted with the taste of Mary Jane’s Magical White Hemp Wine. This groovy vino employs a proprietary blend of the white grapes & Ontario hemp! This hemp-infused wine comes with the benefits of the plant’s rich omegas, vitamins and mineral content. I’m also told that Mary Jane’s pairs quite splendidly with a bag of Doritos.
A Distillery Tour And Tasting At Kinsip House Of Fine Spirits
Located in Bloomfield, is a Second Empire style farmhouse and impressive property. It was once the region’s most prosperous barley and hops farm, during the Barley Days era of The County. Today, it is the home of Kinsip House of Fine Spirits.
During our visit, we were treated to a private tour of the distillery by Kinsip’s President and Head of Distilling: Jeremiah Soucie. He described the process of distilling and showed us their distilling unit that towered above. This was my first-ever visit to a distillery, and I was impressed with the sheer magnitude of it all.
We then made our way back to the farmhouse and Kinsip’s ornate tasting bar. I sampled their 100% Canadian Rye, which was very smooth. I also enjoyed the Duck Island Rum, which was made with Barbados Molasses. Like the rye, this rum was incredibly smooth and so flavourful that to mix it with cola would be a crime.
Before leaving, I couldn’t resist purchasing a bottle of small-batch Maple Whisky. I also purchased Kinsip’s delicious whisky barrel-aged maple syrup to sweeten up our next pancake breakfast or bowl of ice cream.
Dinner And Drinks At Midtown Brewing Company
For dinner, we made our way South, to Wellington for a much-anticipated visit to Midtown Brewing Company. I loved the industrial feel of the decor and sitting amid the fermentation tanks. I am also a big fan of Midtown’s social-style seating arrangement. The dining area consisted of several long tables that were perfect for large groups and promoting interaction between guests.
I sampled a flight of local craft beers including Midtown’s signature Extra Special Bitter (ESB), Prince Eddy’s Fresh Coast IPA and a nice House Ale by Mackinnon Brothers.
For dinner, I had best Fried Chicken Sandwich I have ever eaten. It consisted of local chicken from Prinzen Farms, marinated in buttermilk and hand-battered using Midtown’s in-house recipe. It was also topped with a zesty jalapeno red cabbage coleslaw, buttermilk ranch sauce, on a fresh brioche bun.
Heidi went with the succulent MBC Burger with bacon & cheese. It also came topped with crisp homemade ‘slaw and a delicious garlic aioli. The beef was also locally sourced (13 Km away in fact) from Walt’s Sugar Shack.
A Relaxing Evening at Huff Estates Winery & Inn
After an eventful day, we checked into our lodgings at Huff Estates Winery & Inn. Our room for the night was the Balloon Suite, one of Huff’s premiere options that comes complete with modern furnishings, a double-sided fireplace and a king-sized bed. There was also a spacious 4-piece bathroom that sported a whirlpool tub and walk-in shower.
We were content to spend the remainder of the night relaxing in the comforts of our suite.
An Inspiring Collection Of Fine Art At Oeno Gallery
Heidi and I started the morning with a hearty breakfast in the dining area. Afterwards, we headed over to Oeno Gallery which is located on-site at Huff Estates. This mesmerizing gallery has a collection of fine art ranging from abstract canvas paintings, intriguing sculptures, and timeless masterpieces.
Oeno is a unique gallery, endowed both inside and out with a diverse range of creative exhibits. Each collection represents a roster of talented artists spanning several mediums. Throughout the year, guests can also enjoy a variety of exhibitions. We had an unforgettable time exploring the indoor and outdoor exhibits and were entirely taken with the inspirational and vibrant assortment of creations on display.
A Private Tour & Wine Tasting At Huff Estates
A short walk from the gallery brought us to Huff Estates Winery for a tasting and private tour of the facility. This impressive building was designed with the purpose of producing premium high-quality wines. The winery is built into a hill, utilizing an ingenious gravity-fed system for making Huff’s renowned selection of wines.
I’m a huge fan of red wine, our tour guide Brian Hanna selected the 2015 South Bay Merlot – which had a very nice floral bouquet with a flavour that seemed to cary notes of dark berries.
Brian also recommended Huff Estates’ 2016 Pinot Noir Reserve – which presented a fruity aroma, that would likely pair well with spicy Creole dishes, or a perky stir-fry combining both sweet and heat. Alas, we had to take our leave – and finish up our adventure with one last stop.
Campbell’s Orchards Farm Market
Prince Edward County is a spectacular place where the local food scene is absolutely booming! One of The County’s most famous farm markets is Campbell’s Orchard – and we were excited to stop in. When we walked into the store, we were met with the adorable Sophie the golden retriever.
The store is filled with local goodies ranging from take and bake frozen pies, preserves, baked goods, cheeses, meats and everything in between. Also available is a staggering variety of amazing apple-related finery, including The County’s very own Apple Falls Cider made with apples grown at Campbell’s orchard.
After picking up a bottle of Apple Falls’ Beekeeper cider to bring home, we took a short walk around the grounds. We could have easily spent a week further exploring The County, but it was time to head home.
Visit The County!
Well, that brings us to the end of this adventure. I hope that we’ve inspired you to #VisitTheCounty! Until next time, thanks for reading.