The summer is always the busiest and best season in PEC. The vines are growing, our winery is open to visitors daily and The County as a community is alive with the promise of a new fabulous vintage.
We love The County and couldn't feel luckier to live and work in the region. Our family has grown up here, so we know just how fantastic and entertaining our rustic island can be. That's why we've created a 2015 PEC Travel Guide. We encourage everyone to take the 2-3 hour drive from Toronto, Ottawa or Montreal and trade in the hustle of big cities for the charm of our beautiful country landscape. We know you will enjoy the emerging arts and entertainment scene or the local food and wine culture, because there is something for everyone. Whether it's a romantic weekend away or a family road trip for a week, there's plenty to keep everyone happy and occupied. Continue reading for a compiled a list of things to do in The County.
The Grange Tour and Tastings
We're very pleased to now have our winery up and running for tours and tastings everyday of the week from 11am-5pm. We have a keen new staff that will help lead you on scenic tours so that you can learn more about winemaking and what makes Prince Edward County wine distinctive. All tours include a look at the vineyards, a tour through the processing area and barrel cellar as well as the story of The Grange and the Granger family, and knowledge of the wine region and the unique qualities of the winery.
Basic Tour $10: Includes a tour of the vineyards and winery and tastes of three wines.
Group Tour and Tasting (for groups of 10+) $15: Includes a private tour of the vineyards and winery and guided tasting of three wines and includes a take home bottle of wine for all guests.
Experiential Tours: Experience life on a vineyard on a private tours with the winemaker!
Barrel Cellar $25: Taste wines right from the barrel and learn what is unique about us! Includes a tour and tasting of three wines.
Day in The Life $75: Spend a day with us and see what life on a vineyard is like! Start with a country breakfast, then try your hand at vineyard or winemaking work , then join us for lunch and a tour and tasting!
We wanted to give our guests a truly unique local experience when they visit the winery. We have great estate grown and made wines and we have a beautiful estate; the limestone patio, rustic lane-ways and picturesque farmland. A picnic lunch is a relaxing way to see more of the vineyard. Grab a bottle of your favourite Grange wine then take a seat on our patio, a picnic bench or pick a spot on the grass and we'll handle the rest. We'll provide a lovely local picnic basket lunch filled with summer salads, homemade sandwiches, charcuterie, artisanal cheeses and seasonal desserts.
Hillier Night Market
This year we're excited to introduce a new venture for the winery. We've partnered up with the Prince Edward County's Farmers Market to host a Hillier Night Market every Friday evening throughout July and August. It's sure to be a fantastic party celebrating local PEC vendors with goods such as cured meats, fresh fruits and veggies, natural skincare products and so much more. The Night Market will be held between 4pm-8pm at our winery. Continue reading for more information about this fun, new initiative.
WINERIES & Breweries TO VISIT
We're so proud that The County is considered Canada's up and coming wine region. Prince Edward County is now home to 40 fabulous wineries. To ensure adequate time at each winery, we don't recommend trying to visit more than 5 in one day. Since we're located in Hillier, we picked 5 other wineries worth visiting that are located nearby, which makes for an easy day trip. Broken Stone Winery, Trail Estates, Traynor Family Vineyard, Hubbs Creek and Hinterland are all fairly new wineries worth checking out. Broken Stone Winery is owned by a husband and wife team who are living their dream of owning a county vineyard. Their wines are very reasonably priced and they're located just down Closson Road from us. Trail Estates is one of The County's newest vineyards, located at the intersection of Benway and Millennium. They focus solely on small batch wines, to ensure the quality and characteristics of each varietal stand out. Continue onwards to Traynor Family Vineyard and you'll be filled with passion from winemaker and owner Mike Traynor. It's a fun atmosphere and they're always happy to have guests who want to help around the winery. Hubbs Creek on Danforth Road is another family run winery that specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. They also have experimental plantings of the Italian grape varietal Dolcetto, which is an extreme rarity here in PEC. Finally, Hinterland is a must-do winery for anyone who enjoys beautifully crafted sparkling wines. They are such enthusiasts for The County and have excelled in matching grapes to terroir, ultimately leading to elegant, quality wines. If you're staying for the weekend, we highly recommend visiting our neighbours in Bloomfield and Picton as well.
If you're not a wine drinker, The County has great breweries, cideries and distilleries. The County Cider Company (Waupoos), Barley Days brewery, and 66 Gilead Distillery are all worth visiting for premium craft beverages and spirits.
PLACES TO STAY
Cottages and Campgrounds
For family trips, PEC has fantastic cottages and homes for rent right in the thick of all the fun. If you're looking to rent a cottage there are a few sites that will help you find a suitable rental. Air B & B also has beautiful cottages and country homes such as a PEC farmhouse, the Noxon House in Bloomfield, The Gryphon Cottage, and The Carriage House, which all accommodate a different number of guests. For other county accommodations and rentals, look at County Holiday Homes, Isaiah Tubbs, Cozy Cove Cottages or Log Cabin Point.
For those looking to really get back to nature, Sandbanks Provincial Park is a must-see when visiting. It is a beautiful campground with 3 expansive sandy beaches, walking and hiking trails, daily programming and it's a great starting spot for bikers touring the wine route. Whether you're looking to car camp or just want to set up a tent, you'll love your vacation birdwatching, fishing, swimming, hiking and canoeing. If you don't feel like staying overnight, you can buy a day pass for the park and just relax at the beach for the day. Another local campground is the Quinte's Isle Campark.
We know everyone wants to be outside in the summer, especially in a place as beautiful as The County. There are so many wonderful activities such as visiting local beaches, berry picking, watching a movie at the drive-in or bike tours.
As mentioned, Sandbanks is more than just a campground. You can buy a day pass to just lounge on the beach in the sun or go for a hike on one of the trails. Other beaches around are Wellington Beach and North Beach Provincial Park. Before heading to the beach, stop by one of the local berry patches and pick some fresh fruit for a picnic lunch. In Waupoos, The Blueberry Patch allows you to pick your own strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries or apples, depending what's in season. It's open daily so stop by with the family and get some ready-picked or pick your own fresh berries.
In The County, you don't even need to watch movies inside! Take a flash back in time and experience something we guarantee you won't get to do in the city. Drive over to the Mustang Drive In and watch some great flicks with the family. There's a playground as well if the kids want to get out and stretch their legs. Enjoy classic movie snacks while watching the new releases in a whole different atmosphere. Nothing like seeing a movie as the sun goes down. If it rains, there is always the Regent Theatre on Main Street in Picton.
Antiquing is something not many people think to do, but hunting through historic pieces can lead to finding some hidden gems! The County is home to a few great antique shops and is known for its vast selection of Canadian primitive pieces, some belonging to the first settlers. A few stores to visit if you enjoy the past time of antiquing are Butler Creek Antiques, Dead People's Stuff, Hickory Tree Antiques and Furniture, Hillier House and there are many more. For a full list, click here. Each spring and fall there is an Antique Show and Sale. The spring show is coming up and will be held this May 16th and 17th at the Prince Edward Curling Club.
PEC has a fabulous art culture. Local artists thrive on the rural inspiration to create beautiful, unique pieces. There are over 19 art galleries and studios throughout The County, all with something different to offer art lovers. With such a diverse art scene, there is something for each member of the family to appreciate. The art here ranges from blown glass pieces and jewelry to hand-painted silk scarves and pottery. With so much talent, it's great to be able to support local Ontario artists. Visit Arts Trail to plan your own route for a self-guided tour through PEC's galleries.
If you enjoy paintings, photography or sculptures check out Oeno Gallery, which is located next to Huff Estates in Bloomfield. For other great galleries in Bloomfield, visit Windswept Studio, J.D. Thompson Studio Gallery, Jeanette Goodman Studio and the charming Love Nest Studio Gallery. If you're touring Picton, Small Pond Arts and Dave Hill Photography are worth checking out. Wellington is home to Pamela Carter Studio, filled with beautiful PEC oil paintings as well as StudioHousePEC, which features the best of Contemporary Canadian Art.
For those who enjoy wearable art, we suggest visiting Amelie Handpainted Silks, Bloomfield Studios, and Janet B Gallery and Studio.
RESTAURANTS and food vendors
Drake Devonshire Inn is an adorable historic hotel in Wellington, which just had its grand opening on May 1st, 2015. We've had the pleasure of visiting and love the old farmhouse with its contemporary, modern furnishings. It has a lovely patio to enjoy now that the warm weather has hit. The farm-to-table seasonal menu is our favourite part! You don't have to be staying at the hotel to stop by for a bite. They're open for every meal of the day, so swing by for a weekday breakfast/ weekend brunch, or plan a lovely dinner overlooking the water. They also have a great local wine list and cocktail program. This is fabulous new spot that PEC's lucky to have. They book up fast, so if you want to stay at the Inn, book way in advance.
There are so many great restaurants that focus on the local farm-to-table experience, such as East and Main, Blumen, The Merrill Inn, The Hubb and Agrarian Bistro. East and Main, run by locals Kimberly and David, has a diverse seasonal menu of luxury comfort food, created from local ingredients. It's located on main street Wellington, right in the heart of farm, wine and art country. Stop by for lunch for a break from wine tours or visit for dinner to check out their great wine list featuring PEC's best. Blumen Garden Bistro offers a unique twist as Chef Andreas brings the Old World to PEC. He uses fresh, local ingredients to create European-style dishes. The best part is the serene garden patio. If the weather permits, this picturesque garden setting is the perfect place to enjoy Chef's hearty, homemade cuisine. If you're planning a trip to PEC, The Merrill Inn in Picton is a lovely bed and breakfast for a romantic getaway. It's no wonder the food is fabulous since Chef Michael Sullivan has worked for some of the biggest restaurants in Toronto, Opus and Auberge du Pommier. He continues to excel, handcrafting a menu that represents the best The County has to offer. The Hubb at Angeline's is a fabulous little spot where husband and wife team, Chef Elliot and Sommelier Laura, have put together a delicious seasonal menu. Whether you want a small snack or need a hearty meal, they have the full range from small to large plates. Finally, in Bloomfield, there is a neat little place called Agrarian Cheese Market and Speakeasy. Their bistro's menu consists of rustic, comfort dishes and the market is a great place to buy cheeses and cured meats to take home for entertaining. It's a one stop shop for lunch, cheese, baked breads, meats and local preserves! That's not all they offer, The Speakeasy (the bar), features craft beers and ciders, local wines and innovative cocktails. Stop by on a Saturday night for some live music. We suggest making your reservations in advance for these great restaurants.
We're a farming community, so naturally we have more than great restaurants; we have fabulous farmers' markets. We highly encourage anyone renting a cottage to visit some of our local markets and produce stands to pick up fresh produce and put your own culinary skills to the test. The Wellington Farmers' Market, Picton Sunday Market and Hillier Farmers' Market are each on a different day over the weekend, so you'll always be able to make time for one. On Friday evenings, the Hillier Night Market runs from 4pm-8pm at our winery. We're very excited for this new venture and hope to see you there throughout July and August. It'll be a great party to kick off each weekend. If you can't make it Friday, every Saturday starting May 17th, from 8am until 1pm, Wellington Farmers' Market is a great place to pick up produce and groceries for the upcoming week. To wrap up the weekend, 106 Bridge Street Market (Picton Sunday Market) will be featuring local vendors selling wines, skincare products, PEC maple syrup, pastries, ice cream and fresh produce. Come out and experience a farm-to-table approach to quality goods.
For more information on great local eateries, check out the Zagat Guide to PEC.