Thursday, December 08, 2016

Travel Guide: 36 hours in Prince Edward County

Prince Edward County. also known as PEC, is an up and coming area that is located 2 hours east of the downtown core of Toronto. When I say 'up and coming', I'm referring to the food & wineries. And for me, this makes it an ideal spot for a mini vacation away from the hustle & bustle of the city. Escaping to PEC seemed like the perfect decision for my family and I when we were thinking about what to do for my dad's birthday this year. So we packed our bags, loaded up the car, and hit the road!

As the holidays are coming up (my favourite time of year!), how could I not get myself a peppermint mocha to help keep me awake and to up the holiday vibes (not like I needed any help with that though). I've always been a fan of McCafé beverages, but the peppermint mocha is what I look forward to when the holidays come around. It is still made with 100% fine arabica beans, but it's sweetened with peppermint mocha syrup and topped off with whipped cream and crushed candy cane. Talk about yum!!

With that, we left Toronto at around 10am and wow - what a beautiful day for a road trip! As we are travelling on a Monday (as opposed to a weekend), we didn't have any problem with traffic and just cruised our way into the county.

The Courage Bar

Arriving in PEC, we were famished. Good thing I already had a place in mind that I wanted to visit for lunch. The Courage Bar was recommended to me by a couple other travel bloggers as one of the best new spots in town. I marveled at the decor and ordered the below spread just to be amazed by how good the food was as well. You can read a full review of my dining experience here.

Casa-Dea Estates Winery

After we were full, we head out to the wine region and started off our self-guided wine tour at Casa-Dea, one of the largest and most established wineries in PEC. They are proud of being able to produce true Prince Edward County VQA wines. The wine pictured below was my favourite out of the many that we got to taste, and am so happy to have brought a bottle home with me!

Stanners Vineyard

Second stop was at Stanners Vineyard, a family-run winery that began back in 2003. One cool thing about Stanners is that they actually uses an ecofriendly Straw Bale construction method for their barrel room, and is the first winery to have this barrel room east of the Rockies! Their tasting room is also in the barrel room, so you are able to check out the barrels as you sip on their wine. We actually got a chance to try a wine from the actual barrel while we were there, as pictured below - so cool! Unfortunately we were unable to taste their most popular wines as it had been sold out for the year already (the 2013 Cab Franc, 2014 Chardonnay that won a gold medal, and their 2 Pinot Gris), but we did taste their 2014 Pinot Noirs which were great.

The Grange of Prince Edward

Next up was The Grange, another family run winery who produce only 100% estate grown & made wines. We sampled a couple of their best wines, and I have to say that the best Cab Franc I tasted today was from The Grange. Also! In the summer months, they actually prepare little picnic baskets for their guests so that they can enjoy a couple glasses of wine & cheese/charcuterie in their green backyard - what a great idea! We also got a behind-the-scenes tour, where we got to check out their barrels and see how they bottle their brut using the traditional method.

Karlo Estates

We were supposed to end off our lil wine tour at The Grange, but am so glad our last stop was at Karlo Estates. I actually bumped into Sherry Karlo, the vineyard owner, at The Courage Bar earlier in the day and she convinced me to come by her winery. What I loved about Karlo Estates was how they did their wine tastings. Yeah, I love tasting wine but to have a food pairing with each wine that we tasted? Now that is something different! Pictured below is my favourite wine from Karlo Estates, and it is paired with delicious almonds.


As we spent our afternoon/evening drinking away, we didn't even realize that we were hungry until we finished our tasting at Karlo Estates. Heading towards our accommodations in Bloomfield, we were craving Italian food so we stopped by Pomodoro in Wellington. We ordered a bunch of small dishes to fulfill each of our cravings for the day - from mussels (the BEST) to pasta to fried cauliflower.

Accommodations: Angeline's Inn

Angeline's Inn was our humble abode this trip. Operated by the Fida family since the 1980s, the plot of land where Angeline's Inn now stands has transformed since then. In addition to having the below pictured main house, there are a couple other spots on the property for visitors to stay in. During my visit, I got a chance to meet Alex Fida, Angeline's Inn's visionary. He designed and transformed multiple properties and rooms with the inspiration from the finest thrift stores and yard sales the world has to offer. It was so interesting to walk through the house to find so many different cool pieces of furniture and items. This place has so much history, and there are rooms for different sizes of families and budgets!

- - -

Day 2!! Waking up, we made coffee using their Nespresso machines. The smell of coffee lit up the room, and although it made me feel more 'awake', all I wanted to do was crawl back into the blankets and do nothing - and that's what I did. We ended up having a very relaxing morning until check-out at 11am.

Kin's Cafe

Looking to pick up something quick from a bakery near by, I literally Googled "bakery" and Kin's Cafe came up as a 10 minute walk away from Angeline's Inn. I didn't expect much, but we ended up grabbing an americano and a couple croissants to go. I didn't get a chance to taste it, but according to my parents (and they have high standards for croissants), these were the freshest they've had! If you're close by, please go check them out and let me know if you think the same thing.

Drake Devonshire Inn

After hanging out in Bloomfield for a while, we decided to head over to Drake Devonshire Inn for lunch. Everyone that I've talked to about PEC told me to go there. I honestly thought to myself - is this a Toronto thing because of Drake? But I was soon shown that the food was actually SO good and I could have stayed there literally all day. But seriously... Those VIEWS thoughhhh. Ah - they're really something. You can read about how much I enjoyed my meal here.

Closson Chase Winery

Our last stop before heading back into the city was at Closson Chase Winery. Founded in 1998, Closson Chase has focused all of their attention to the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Gris grapes in this region. Specifically, I got a chance to taste the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir when I visited. My favourite was the Vineyard Chardonnay, which actually won gold at Wine Align's National Wine Awards of Canada! Their suggested pairing with this wine was lobster mac 'n cheese. I didn't get to try it with the mac 'n cheese, but now I really want to!

Ending Thoughts

Although it is quite late in the year to be visiting PEC (we went at the end of November), I would have to say it was the way to do it for first-time visitors. We didn't have to battle through crowds at the wineries and we basically had the entire restaurant / winery to ourselves when we visited. Of course the scenery is not as beautiful. We didn't get to see flowers and we just saw naked trees whenever we drove anywhere, but it was honestly so peaceful. It really felt like a getaway from the city. From everyone I've talked to in the county, they have told me how much busier the county is in the summer months as PEC has become more and more popular. So if you haven't been, I'd suggest going there now before it turns into a tourist town.

But as for me - the weather was great, the food I had was amazing (true farm-to-table style), the wines I tasted were amazing (brought a couple bottles home with me!), and the people I met were just lovely. I honestly couldn't have asked for anything better for this first trip to PEC. You bet I will be back in another season (probably this coming spring haha).

- Too much wine, not enough time -
PEC, see you soon!

*Thank you to Branding & Buzzing and McDonald's Canada for sponsoring this blog post; however, please note that all views and opinions expressed are my own.*
© Sincerely, KN | Toronto Food & Lifestyle Blog | All rights reserved.
Blog Design Handcrafted by pipdig