prince edward county guide
Photography courtesy of The Grange Winery

How to Have a Perfect Summer Weekend in Prince Edward County

How to eat and sip your way through PEC.

For many Torontonians, there is no better weekend away than a blissful few days spent in Prince Edward County. Lovingly referred to as “The County” (the one and only), the laid-back region is known for its wine, food, art and hospitality scene. A quick-ish two-and-a-half hour drive will get you out of the city and into the charming getaway spot.

It’s back and bustling after a rough few years for the hospitality-focused region during- and post-pandemic. In fact, many Torontonians actually left the city and purchased property in the county in the last few years, so it’s extra bustling.

Continue reading this Prince Edward County guide to learn how to spend a truly perfect, relaxing weekend in PEC this summer.

WHAT TO SIP

Three Dog Winery

 

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This family-owned winery was acquired by its current owners in 2022, and they’ve made it an absolute must-visit destination for wine-lovers in Picton, Ontario. Led by winemaker Andrew Rytwinski (who has a background in chemistry and laser physics but opted for a major career change a decade ago, entering the wonderful world of wine), Three Dog Winery just snagged five Gold wins at the Ontario Wine Awards and the All Canadian Wine Championships. Block off a couple of hours to hit up this spot and relax on its large, open green space, enjoy some wood-fired pizzas and maybe play a game of fetch with the winery’s resident Good Boy: an aptly named two-year-old red lab named Red Dog.

The Grange of Prince Edward

No trip to the county is complete without a visit to The Grange, which happens to be celebrating its 20-year anniversary this summer. The 135-acre property in Hillier, Ontario features over 40 acres of vines producing low-intervention Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Cabernet Franc, under the guidance of viticulturist Mike Peddlesden and winemaker Jonas Newman. Pair your wine tasting with a short-but-sweet menu (think elevated comfort food like sandwiches, tacos and salads) made from locally sourced farm-to-table ingredients. Want to customize (and extend) your visit? The 200-year-old barn and grounds are available for bespoke experiences like private tours, dinners, weddings, and special events.

Lighthall Vineyards

Two words: DIY charcuterie. When you walk into Lighthall, located in Milford, the first thing to do is choose from their wide selection of cheeses, meats, crackers and dips. Ask the staff for a charcuterie board, a knife, and their best wine pairing recommendations. Grab your drink (we love the 2023 Progression, a fresh acidic white with notes of white grapefruit and green apple peel, that pairs well with most cheeses), arrange your board, and prepare for bliss. Lighthall, which has been open for 16 years, is situated on 60 acres of land and is one of the very few wineries in all of Canada to produce its own sheep’s milk cheese — on site!—sourced from a single herd of ewes.

Trail Estate Winery

The vibes at this Hillier winery are always immaculate, with its relaxed outdoor seating complete with hay bails, picnic tables and floaty sail-like sun canopies. Beloved for low-intervention craft wines and funky pét nats, this is the place to have a casual sip in the sunshine that’s a bit off the beaten path. And if you literally need to touch grass (because, same!), slip off your sandals and stroll the lovely grounds with a glass of CarboGew, their lightly effervescent fermented Gewürztraminer, in hand. The winery is kid-friendly, with a sandbox and games at the ready during the warmer months, and you can grab cheese fondue every Saturday afternoon. Cheers!

HOW TO GET AROUND

Vintage Car Wine Tours

 

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If you’ve ever organized a group getaway in Prince Edward County, you’ve probably set up a shuttle service to take you and your pals from winery to winery. But what if that experience could be elevated? Enter: Vintage Car Wine Tours. Combining classic vintage cars, great music and wine experiences, the company is the brainchild of founder Sam Grosso, who was previously at the helm of the iconic Cadillac Lounge music venue in the Parkdale neighbourhood of Toronto before its closure in 2019. The following year, Grosso moved to PEC and started Vintage Car Wine Tours, a fun (and unique) service that drives guests safely from winery to winery in one of his vintage cars, including a 1937 Oldsmobile, a 1961 turquoise Coupe de Ville, and a banana-yellow ’69 Cadillac. Oh and if you’re up for it, Grosso offers in-car karaoke during your trips.

WHERE TO EAT

Sand and Pearl Oyster Bar

Seafood towers, a huge outdoor patio decked out in string lights, great local wines and fresh, sustainably sourced oysters. Need we say more about why you need to pay a visit to Sand and Pearl Oyster Bar? Bonus points for the family-friendly space that provides kids plenty of room for kids to run around and burn off some energy while you enjoy your second glass of local wine.

Onesta

 

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Serving handmade pasta and focaccia, this Italian restaurant in the heart of Picton is a great place to satisfy your inevitable craving for carbs after a few glasses of vino. Featuring simple but flavourful dishes in a small, quaint and dimly lit room, the vibe at Onesta is just as delicious as the menu.

Cressy Mustard Co.

 

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What’s a mustard shop doing on this list? Hear us out. Cressy is a small-batch mustard company that also happens to have an amazing outdoor kitchen and patio in Waupoos. Serving up their specialty—local pickerel!—via delicious classics like tacos, fish n’ chips and sandwiches, you can’t miss this cute spot. And yes, you obviously have to leave with a jar or two of their famous mustard. Choose from favourites like the Chardonnay Mustard, Beer Mustard, or the memorable Sassy Mustard, made with jalapeño, habanero and a hint of ghost pepper.

Flame + Smith

 

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This farm-to-table restaurant has been a PEC mainstay since 2018 for good reason. The sustainably minded Bloomfield locale revolves around woodfire cooking and partners with local growers and farmers on their sumptuous seasonal dishes. The interior of the restaurant — a 120-year-old roadhouse converted into a charmingly stylish space with rustic touches like rough-hewn rafters that feel pitch-perfect for The County — is a design freak’s dream, while the outdoor patio can’t be beat for an al fresco bite on the town’s main street. Fire-cooked meat and fish is their specialty, while seasonal veggies bring brightness to every plate. And don’t sleep on their burger — some version of it is usually on the menu and it just might be *the* best burger we’ve ever tasted.

With files from Jennifer Berry

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