Why You'll Fall For Prince Edward County
Prince Edward County has been gaining popularity as a getaway destination, with its gorgeous country scenery, a lively food and wine scene and plenty of small-town charm. Autumn is one of the best times to visit this unique and friendly area; the crowds thin, the trees get more colourful and the food gets heartier. You can take my word for it -- I’m one of those small-town girls that grew up down the road! Here's four reasons to take in the local hospitality along with some of my favourite spots to get started.
1. Come for the wine
Many growers are celebrating the harvest in fall, and tasting rooms are less busy, leaving you ample opportunity for tours or to ask questions. Tastings are often inexpensive or free with a purchase. Here's a few of my favourite wineries.
- Huff Estates: This estate (pictured) has some of the most friendly and knowledgeable sommeliers I’ve ever met, with a fun sculpture garden, art gallery, patio restaurant and adjoining boutique inn.
- Sandbanks: With its colourful tasting room and art gallery, you’re sure to find a bottle you’ll love among this winery's increasingly diverse and fun selection ... what do you mean, you’ve never tried an effervescent red?
- Stanners Vineyard: Using sustainable harvesting methods wherever possible, this winery produces only 1,000 cases a year and will sometimes let you do a barrel tasting of your own.
- Norman Hardie: Gaining momentum and accolades worldwide, this popular spot features an idyllic red barn and wines that play on the minerality of the local soil. Their ever-popular oven-fired pizzeria is open until Thanksgiving, so you can sip and eat alfresco among the vines.
2. Come for the food
To eat your way through the County's hot spots at a lower price point than you'll find in summer, visit during Countylicious. The twice-annual event sees more than a dozen restaurants (including the Drake Devonshire) creating prix fixe menus showcasing local flavours. Consider it your invitation to discover the region dubbed “the gastronomic capital of Ontario” (The Globe and Mail). (The next Countylicious is Nov. 3-26; meals are $40 per person, tax and tip extra, reservations required.)
3. Come for the finds
You’re sure to find the perfect gift or something special just by walking down the main streets of Picton, Bloomfield, or Wellington. For treasure-hunters, the County is known for its selection of Canadiana, with a plethora of specialty antique shops to be explored. A quiet country setting can inspire incredible creativity, as evidenced by The Arts Trail. You’ll find unique pieces in any medium, be it glass, paint, clay, textile or metal.
4. Come for the fun
Visiting Prince Edward County in fall means a chance to participate in much-loved local harvest traditions.
Pumpkinfest: This wacky festival in the village of Wellington (on Oct. 14 this year) starts off with a hearty pancake breakfast, followed by local farmers parading their most gigantic gourds down Main Street. The afternoon is filled with wholesome, small-town fun including family-friendly entertainment, games, food and local vendors. Bring your little scarecrows! Campbell’s Orchards: Fall isn’t complete without a family trip to Campbell’s! For pick-your-own produce, hayrides, corn mazes, family-friendly entertainment and delicious local fare, join the locals who flock here every fall for their family outings. Campbell’s also just opened its hard-cider brewery. Wassail: When the leaves have fallen and you’re ready to ring in the festive season, look no further than Wassail, based on the old tradition of celebrating the end of a fruitful harvest. Many wineries and restaurants host Wassail gatherings with wine pairings, food sampling and musical merriment. Arrive singing seasonal tunes and you may be treated to some mulled wine! (2017 dates are Nov. 18, 19, 25, 26; Dec. 1, 2)
Kiera Dinsmore, a Prince Edward County local, has been a part of Travelzoo’s Toronto team since October 2016.