I’m going to start off by sharing that I’ve been on my fare share of winery tours including my all time favourite private tour with Azure Wine Tours and my husband in the south of France.. I’m a seasoned wine expert at this point really (not really), but all that aside this was one of the best wine tours I have been on, almost ever! Almost because a private wine tour with my husband just can’t be beat 😉
My wonderful friends at Your Dream Team Quinte a real estate family team arranged the whole event and they offered a spot just for me to tag along with them to 5 of the cutest, quaintest and most lovely wineries in the Prince Edward County. Of course, I had to go.. A free wine tour with limo service? Yep.
The limo company: A1 Limosines (which is not sponsoring this post whatsoever) I’ve actually had the pleasure of using before for a friends bachelorette party and they are outstanding! The cleanest, most beautiful and state of the art limosines on the market. The driver, George (whom I’d recommend asking for if you can) is the ultimate gentleman. He is very accommodating, professional, kind, caring, honest and friendly. Honestly, how could you say no? Family friends, limos, amazing drivers, (almost) limitless wines! Let’s do this.
Ok, I’m not going to pretend I’m a sommelier or wine expert or anything, but I wanted to share few tips I’ve picked up in my travels and visits to look like a wine coinsure!
- Look at Your Wine
Before anything, hold your glass up at eye level and review the color and clarity, each wine variety carries its own color and can make for interesting notes and comparisons later! Generally you will find with Reds, the darker the color the more full-bodied the taste.
- Swirl & Sniff
When the sample is poured, don’t immediately chug the entire sample! Lightly swirl the wine around in the glass a few times to ‘release’ the aromas and sniff the wine to get an idea of the flavours.
- Swish First, Taste Second
This is especially important and helpful when sampling different wine varieties and different vineyard wines. For each sample, take a very small sip and swish it around in your mouth (yep, like mouthwash!), swallow and then take your sample taste. This cleanses your mouth of any other wine tastes and allows you to really appreciate and sample the wine at hand.
Now that we’re all experts, I’ve broken down the tour per winery and mentioned some of the highlights I enjoyed that hopefully you can book or ask for on your visit!
Harwood Estates Vineyards – Hillier, ON
Highlights: Food Pairings, Picnic Area, Dog Friendly
One of the coolest things about this award winning solar-powered winery is that it operates completely off the grid! They produce enough power to not hook up to the hydro supply making them one of 2 wineries in Canada with ‘off the grid’ status. The wines were incredible too! The first deliciously crisp, not too sweet not too dry white wine was pared with some delicious spicy samosas and set the day off right for me. Another fave was the dessert wine paired with their secret recipe dessert treats. Naturally, I scooped up a bottle of each before we moved on to the next one so I could relive the experience at home!
Casa-Dea Estates Winery – Wellington, ON
Highlights: Event space, Picnic Area, Restaurant
We visited another memorable winery, perhaps not for the service but at least the wines! Casa-dea winery is gorgeous, a fine winery with large bay windows and enough room for 30 people easy and an additional hall that was used that weekend for a craft-artisan show where I picked up some tasty homemade mustards, apple cider vinegar and a Rosemary beer bread for my husband.
But, back to Casa-des we sampled.. 3 wines.. I believe. And not because I can’t remember, (we’ll sort of) but simply because the samples were poured and handed out quicker than your could finish the first.. Regardless we did very much enjoy the bubbly sample of their 2013 Cuvee and it seems almost all of us girls on the tour snatched up a bottle before we were crowded in by Carolers.
Sandbanks Winery – Wellington, ON
Highlights: Food Pairings, Picnic Area, Dog Friendly
Photo source: PrinceEdwardCountyWines.ca
A wine tour in PEC is not complete without a stop at Sandbanks, which of course we did and very much enjoyed it. Sandbanks is one of the more popular VQA Ontario wines at the LCBO and since it’s mostly readily available I didn’t purchase anything from the winery however I could recommend at least sampling (then buying) the Lot 17 bottle of red.
Karlo Estates – Wellington, ON
Highlights: Food Pairings, Dog Friendly, Picnic Area, Event Space
Noteworthy: 1st Vegan Certified Winery in North America
This was by far our absolute favourite most memorable winery of the night. Never to be forgotten, should have been the last stop of the evening – We LOVED this place. Welcomed into an 1800 century barn we were treated to a private room, royal blankets and a pairing session of vegan-friendly wines and various foods.
Photo source: PrinceEdwardCountyWine.ca
It was absolutely amazing. I honestly cannot say, write or post enough good things about this winery. It’s an experience you must experience. Our private host, Craig, did a fantastic job teaching us a few new things about wine and accommodating our generous sample requests! They even made up an insanely delicious tray of gluten-free cashew cheese cracker appetizers that were – the ultimate. And when I say made up, they actually made a second batch of these apps simply by our request because they are that accomodating, friendly and amazing!
Hinterland Wine Company – Hillier, ON
Highlights: Light Lunches, Dog Friendly
The final, final stop for the evening was at Hinterland, a unique sparking wine maker housed in an old dairy farm. To say the sparkling wines were excellent is an understatement. They we’re very very good. Fantastic. and a great way to end an evening with bubbly and happy friends!
Taking a wine tour in Prince Edward County is such a fantastic experience, I will recommend it again and again. It’s a lovely change from Niagara where you will find quite a few differences in wines and varieties. Visit the PEC Wine page to view all the wineries in the area, their offerings, specials and locations!