City mouse, country house. Bucolic, meet urbane. Big-city style has been pouring into Prince Edward County in a big way for more than a decade. Huff Estates’ sleek 21-room inn in Bloomfield is just steps from 15 acres of pinot noir and vidal vines, a sculpture garden, and a contemporary fine-art gallery. It’s all within easy reach of the artisanal cheesemakers, restaurateurs, and micro-distillers who have breathed cosmopolitan flair into this slice of rural Canadiana.
Wine about it. Sample various Huff Estates vintages year-round from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ($1 per sample). Be sure to taste the Cuvée Janine 2013. Made from local pinot noir grapes, this dry sparkling rosé tickles the taste buds and delights the nose with berry aromas. Guided tours of the production facilities and barrel cellars take place daily at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Dine by the vines. Served alfresco on a patio over-looking the 62 & 1 Vineyard, the luncheon menu by French chef Sebastien Schwab pairs traditional French cuisine with such very Ontarian ingredients as walleye and Highline mushrooms. The fare is complemented, of course, by Prince Edward County wines.
Go on tour. You’d be missing out on all Prince Edward County offers if you sampled only Huff Estates wines. The county is home to more than 30 winemakers, and the local wine growers’ association has an interactive trip planner on its website to help you find them.
But arrive alive. If you’re planning on indulging in a sample or three, try a guided tour through an operator such as Prince Edward County Wine Tours. They will chauffeur you from vineyard to vineyard in a limousine or a passenger van, depending on your budget.
Quit your wining. If rose-petal notes and hints of wild strawberry leave you looking at your glass as half empty, absorb the aromas of beeswax and fresh-cut grass in 66 Gilead Distillery’s small-batch Crimson Rye Whisky. For the non-oenophiles among us, the County has plenty on tap. It was once a significant exporter of barley, and local microbrewers such as Barley Days and Fronterra Farm Camp Brewery are among the microbrews that are breathing new life into the region’s brewing tradition.
Take a stand. With Prince Edward County rapidly emerging as Ontario’s go-to foodie destination, a meandering drive between local farm stands no longer yields only fresh produce. You’ll also discover local honey, aged fruit vinegars, and secret-recipe hot sauces.
Life’s a beach. The sparsely vegetated dunes of Sandbanks Provincial Park recall hotter, drier climes, and the shallow waters along the park’s thin strand are perfect for a swim — maybe a little too perfect. Weekenders from Toronto sometimes overrun this popular park on summer long weekends. So if you’re seeking a quiet sunset stroll after a hard day of wine tasting, check out nearby North Beach instead.
If not here, then … Huff Estates booked solid? The Merrill Inn and Drake Devonshire, also in Prince Edward County, both make excellent jumping-off points for exploring the area’s gastronomic and oenophilic delights.