Ontario Wine Country; Prince Edward County
Just a few hours away from Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Kingston, nestled on Quinte’s Isle are the vineyards of Prince Edward County, Ontario’s newest VQA wine Appellation and the fastest growing wine region of Ontario. With close to 40 wineries, and the new ones opening each year, the wine tourism of PEC has grown into a robust industry and greatly increased the already steady tourist traffic to the island.
“The County”, as locals call it, evokes images of sun, shimmering waters, romance and tranquility. Home to Sandbanks Provincial Park, the world’s largest freshwater dunes with the most beautiful white, sandy beaches and unique small towns and villages, the island is a true vacationer’s paradise. The island has also become known as an emerging culinary destinations and a hot spot for an ever-growing community of artists.
While summers are warm and breezy, the winters in The County are harsh. Frigid winds sweep from the vast Lake Ontario, bringing in large amounts of snow. Cultivating grapes when the mid-winter temperature dips down to below -25C is extremely challenging.
To protect buds on the vine, the innovative PEC winegrowers developed a technique unique to the island of burying them under the soil to keep them warm during the freezing winter months and uncovering them again in the spring. At that point everyone keeps their fingers crossed that there is no late spring frost like this past May, when many wineries lost significant amount of crop due to the late frost damage.
The limestone-rich soils of PEC, produce wines with pronounced, natural minerality and a “sense of place”. The County’s best expression is in their Chardonnay’s and Pinot Noirs. As in any other young and still developing wine region, winemakers experiment with many other varietals; among them Rieslings and Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Niagara’s Baco Noir and even Merlot. They are treating the island as “the lab” and by trial and error, they are letting go of varietals not suited for the county’s terroir and perfecting the winning ones instead.
Vinified with 100% County fruit this fantastic white comes with a great concentration of aromas and flavours due to exceptionally small yields, use of natural yeast and further maturation sur lie. Dry and aromatic, it’s bursting with citrus aromas of lime drops and lemon zest on the nose, followed by ripe peaches on the palate. It closes in a long, clean mineral-toned finish. Fantastic with grilled seafood.
Vinified with 100% county grown Pinot Noir that beautifully showcase that unique sense of place and character of the County wines. Medium-bodied, dry and fruit forward, it’s bursting with aromas and flavours of red fruit; sour cherries and cranberries with a touch of earthiness. It closes in a long, lingering, smoke-tinged finish. Try it this year with the Thanksgiving turkey and a home-made tangy cranberry sauce.
Crafted with a 100% county-grown Cabernet Franc from the South Bay vineyards. Beautifully articulated and intense aromas and flavours of ripe wild strawberries and raspberries, with subtle floral notes and pronounced minerality. Closes in a clean, tangy finish. Pair with summer salads, soft cheeses, grilled seafood and planked salmon.