Memorable wines, tasty restaurants, and beautiful views are encouraging many people to visit Prince Edward County, and now Ontario’s newest wine region has another lure: a cycling tour of its vineyards.
The County Wine Tours launched in June 2017, offering visitors a two-wheel optioned for exploring four Wellington-area wineries, all the while sipping vintages and learning about the area affectionately called The County. Tour guests meet in Wellington and are led by a guide to the nearby Millennium Trail on bright blue Momentum cruiser bikes embellished with custom brown leather accessories and a sturdy wicker basket for bottle acquisitions.
The Millennium Trail, a former rail line turned golf cart/bike/farm vehicle access path, winds along fields, houses, and a golf course. A half-hour cycle leads to the hip tasting room of Trail Estate Winery, an intimate wooded space. Winemaker Mackenzie Brisbois has focused on creating small-batch, single-vineyard wines with riesling, chardonnay, and gewurztraminer grapes. Consider sampling recent 2016 vintages: Unfiltered Chardonnay, Skin Contact Gewurtztraminer, or Barrel-Ferment Riesling. Bonus: Hinterland Wine Company, located less than a kilometre down the road, is Prince Edward County’s only winery focusing solely on sparkling varietals.
A dusty back road leads to the entrance of one of the first wineries of the region, The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards & Estate Winery, owned by mother-daughter winemaker team Caroline and Maggie Granger. A renovated historic barn is home to a spacious tasting room, where visitors can learn about the winery’s award-winning vintages, all 100 per cent estate-grown. Tastings can include pinot gris, chardonnay, reisling, gamay, pinot noir, and cabernet franc, with a sure crowd favourite being the 2016 Reisling Select Sparkling. Hungry bikers can also order a picnic basket with locally-made treats for a laid-back lunch in the vineyard.
Closson Chase Vineyards is a 10-minute ride from there. After choosing four wines from varietals of chardonnay, pinot gris, and pinot noir, visitors are directed to taste them in a shaded garden at the edge of the vines. Head winemaker Keith Tyers began his career here in 2003 under winemaker Deborah Paskus, and after working as an independent consultant, returned in 2015. Popular sips include the 2014 South Clos Chardonnay and pinot noir. Across the road, fragrant neighbour Prince Edward County Lavender Farm offers locally-grown plants and lavender products.
The final destination is the Karlo Estates rustic barn tasting room. As the only certified vegan winery in the world, Karlo Estates aims to educate oenophiles by pairing tastings with vegan snacks such as peanuts and house-made pretzels. Starting his career in Niagara, Derek Barnett moved to Karlo Estates to become head winemaker in 2015 and was named Wine Person of the Year by the National Capital Sommelier Guild. Visitors should taste the 2014 Pinot Gris or Lake on the Mountain Reisling. The estate also includes the most-photographed sight in The County: North America’s largest dry-stone bridge.
Twenty minutes on the Millennium Trail later, the tour concludes in Wellington. For those looking to spend the night, The Edward Bed & Breakfast, located outside Picton on the east side of Prince Edward County, offers a spacious and stylish spot on 75 acres—ample space to reflect on a day of sipping and cycling.