The first time I heard about Prince Edward County (PEC) was when I was practicing as a junior associate and learned, from a Partner, that he had a vineyard in the County. At the time, he and two of his close friends were planting vines with a view to eventually producing their first vintage. That was almost 15 years ago. Since that time, I have continued to hear about the County’s wonderful features, including its nearby beaches, taste trails, wineries, local crafts and regional festivals and fairs.
Just 2 hours away from Toronto, PEC is a perfect weekend getaway destination. PEC was the only Canadian destination featured in Travel & Leisure’s Best Places to Travel 2015. While there are plenty of incredible Canadian travel destinations, the inclusion of PEC on Travel & Leisure’s list underscores the uniqueness of the County and the growing buzz about the area. I learned last weekend that PEC has a long history of being a creative and agricultural hub. Though, in recent years, it’s also become known as a hip destination. No doubt reinforced by the opening of the uber hip Drake Devonshire Inn in 2014.
I was invited by the Prince Edward County Winegrowers Association to attend PEC’s TASTE Community Grown (Taste) last weekend and stay overnight at Karlo Estates Winery. It was our first time in PEC and we loved it. We’d certainly recommend the visit to our family and friends. The weather was outstanding last weekend and the County feel was immediate upon our arrival at Taste.
Located on the Picton Fair Grounds and partially housed in the historic Crystal Palace, the wine and culinary festival featured local vineyards and purveyors. It’s small in comparison to larger food and wine festivals in Toronto, but the market and county ambience makes it a worthwhile experience as part of a larger PEC weekend trip.
We spent a few hours sampling wines, cheeses and local bites. We also came across a talented craftsman, Robert White, who makes some of the most beautiful handcrafted cutting boards we have ever seen.
I also enjoyed The Waring House Restaurant & Inn’s pork belly confit, cooked sous vide, and made with County apples and cranberry chutney. It was also great to get some tips on cooking sous vide from The Waring House’s chef, Jordan McInnis.
One of the feature Taste events was County Chopped – The Battle of the Bed & Breakfasts. The competition pitted three local chefs against one another as they raced against the clock to create the best meal using locally grown ingredients. One contestant faced a technical challenge with her burner but it didn’t stop the chefs from turning out yummy dishes.
After spending the afternoon at Taste, we met with Sherry Karlo at Karlo Estates Winery to check in. After discussing the plan for Sunday morning’s wine tasting and visit with Derek Barnett, Karlo Estates’ winemaker, we headed out to enjoy a romantic dinner at Pomodoro on Main Street in Wellington. We were happily surprised by the restaurant’s tasting plate format and I won’t soon forget the sweet and buttery roasted seasonal carrot dish or the crispy polenta fritas. It also happened to be a milestone birthday for me that weekend. To celebrate the occasion, we stopped off at the bar at the Drake Devonshire Inn. Coincidentally, while sitting at the bar, I looked up at the wine rack above us and immediately noticed bottles of wine from Long Dog Winery – the winery owned by the Partner from whom I heard about PEC almost 15 years ago.
I’m looking forward to blogging about our visit with Sherry at Karlo Estates. Sherry’s an incredibly strong, creative and resilient business woman with a passion for the wine business. The story of Karlo Estates is truly exceptional. Look out for my post in November.
*Tickets to Taste Community Grown were courtesy of the Prince Edward County Winegrowers Association and our overnight stay and wine tasting at Karlo Estates was courtesy of Karlo Estate Winery.