It’s mid October and the weather is still beautiful so now is the perfect time to grab your sister, your best friend or your mom, jump in the car and take a drive out to Prince Edward County. Sure, some places have cut their hours back a bit and others have even closed for the season but there is still plenty to do, see and taste in the County and you won’t have to fight the summer crowds. If you can swing a mid week adventure, even better and you will be rewarded with beautiful drives on winding country roads without another car in sight, no line ups or crowds and some of the prettiest views in the province. I grabbed my own sister and whisked her away last week for her very first visit where we chose the best of what we did for you to save you a bit of work.
The Miller House boasts a variety of charcuterie/cheese boards, lovely local wines and the best views in the county
At an easy 2 hours from Toronto, Prince Edward County is close enough for a day trip but why wouldn’t you spend the night when you can sleep at the adorable The June Motel? It’s so nice to see a motel that is owned and operated by women and designed with women in mind. There are certainly men who stay here with their wives and girlfriends but this place is unabashedly feminine and fabulous.
Check in isn’t until 4pm so you can do some exploring before you do that and I recommend driving straight to Lake on the Mountain for a quick peak at this oddly situated lake, sitting 62 metres above the Bay of Quinte before you hop across the street to grab a table on the patio of The Miller House. Here you can enjoy some charcuterie or one of their tartines with a glass of wine and marvel over the views of the Bay – if you are driving, maybe skip the wine for now and let your companion imbibe for now.
After that, take the picturesque journey out to County Cider where you can indulge in a cider tasting and pick up a couple of bottles to take back to the hotel.
After your visit to Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co it’s time to make your way into Picton to do a bit of shopping. Like any quaint, small town, the main street is lined with all sorts of boutiques, shops and restaurants and it will keep you busy until 4pm, when you can hop back in your car and check into the motel.
Take your welcome glass of rose out to their lovely patio and enjoy the last rays of sunshine. You can book a whole host of add on packages, from a bottle of wine chilling in your room to a dine and stay package and they also have complimentary bikes to use. One of my favourite features is their text concierge, which you can opt out of but it’s so handy. They can give recommendations, let you know that 8 to 9pm is Rose O’Clock ($5 glasses of rose), you can text them with questions at any hour. For people who don’t always want to talk on the phone, this is heaven.
Rooms are between $170 to $225 mid week with a slight rise on the weekends but most rooms are suitable for sharing
Make a reservation at The Bloomfield Public House and arrange for a taxi to pick up (Taxi Guy 613- 403-2766) but arrange for the taxi at least an hour ahead of departure because there are only a handful of cars. The ride to Bloomfield takes about 20 minutes and will set you back $20 each way but you can skip it if one of you doesn’t want to drink, of course.
The Bloomfield Public House is a neighbourhood gastropub serving seasonal market cuisine, using ingredients from local farmers. Owners Laura Borutski and Elliot Reynolds ran the popular Hubb Eatery at Angelines for five years before opening this place late in the 2018 season. They are one of the few places I encountered that don’t cut back their hours in the off season and they are open from morning until they close after dinner service. We both agreed that this was one of the best meals we had shared in recent memory and although there are great restaurants in Picton, this one is worth the drive.
Go back to the June, grab a blanket from the lobby, order a drink and pull a chair up to the fire pit until they kick you out at 10pm.
After your morning coffee, time to check out and hit the road and drive out to the other side of the county and get some breakfast at the charming Enid Grace Cafe on Wellington’s Main Street. They are open from 7:30am to 2pm every day but Tuesday, when they are closed.
Now it’s time to hit the wine trail and whoever was the designated driver yesterday gets to sit in the passenger seat today. Your best bets are Trail Estate, Closson Chase and Rosehall Run but if you only visit one winery, make it The Grange of Prince Edward County. One of the founding wineries in the county and owned and operated by mother and daughter, Caroline and Maggie Granger, they are making some of the best 100% estate grown, all natural, unfiltered wines. For $15 you can take a tour and enjoy a tasting until the end of October from Sunday to Friday at 12:45 or Saturday at 11:30. Of course, you can also just drop in for a tasting anytime during operating hours but these women are lovely and their enthusiasm for what they do is infectious, so try to make it for a tour.
A absolute highlight, for us, was our picnic basket of local cheese and charcuterie, warm bread, some other treats and a couple of glasses of their Chardonnay “Sur Lie” or unfiltered Pinot Noir. You can take it out onto a pretty spot somewhere on the grounds or sit at a table on their sunny terrace.
If you skip the picnic basket, you can drive back into Wellington for lunch at La Condesa, a fabulous Mexican restaurant, but only from Friday to Saturday as they are now on off season hours. Otherwise, you can always hit up the outdoor patio at The Drake Devonshire before hitting the road for home.