Wine & Cheese in PEC

As forecast, it was a wet and miserable day in Prince Edward County. We hurried out the door of Brown’s Manor at first light to get a walk in before the rain got heavy. Picton has three urban trails, and we did the longest, a five kilometer loop that takes you along part of the Millennium Trail, a repurposed railbed at the edge of town.

Then another lovely breakfast at the Manor. There are masses of beautifully crafted woodwork in this big historic house, but it picked up some very modern touches on the way to becoming a B&B. Some of my favorites have to do with the bathroom. Besides a fancy jet tub, there is a practical contemporary shower with a recessed light. A nice idea is the provision of a wall sconce with a low power light for nighttime use.

We fine-tuned our island briefing with Ross, and then took Sonnet and Dingbat for a spin around the island. Yes, Prince Edward County just qualifies as an island, rather than an isthmus, as the one land link has been cut by a canal.

Wet, windy, and cold.

Wet, windy, and cold.

Driving conditions were so-so, with gusty winds and roads covered in wet leaves. Hooray for Sonnet’s heated seats and steering wheel! The tourist season is mainly over, so lots of things are closed. The first prominent winery we went to was Devil’s Wishbone, and it was closed today.

Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company was open, but they were mildly surprised to see us. They specialize in goat and sheep cheeses, and we tasted a water buffalo cheese as well. We bought a goat cheddar, a brie-style cheese and a goat cheese that reminded us of Manchego. We meant to buy a little of the lemon feta, too, for salads, but forgot.

The next winery we came to that was clearly open was Waupoos. I’m a fan of Gewurtztraminers, so I tried theirs, as well as one of their Chardonnays. I quite liked the Gewurtz, but not enough to load down our suitcase for. If we don’t want to pay WestJet for overweight bags, we can only take a couple of bottles home.

We made a pit-stop at Black River Cheese to buy some five-year-old Cheddar. From cows. Oops. We bought it from a person; the milk was from cows.

For lunch, we detoured to East & Main in Wellington. Caroline was in the mood for salad, and teamed it up with a veggie bunwich. They call it a burger, but try not to picture one of those vegan patty things. The soup of the day was mushroom, and that sounded nice for a cold fall day, so I had that and the day’s meat feature. This is on the menu as Savoury Pie, but today it was a slow-cooked beef brisket with a house barbecue sauce. It was terrific. Tender, melt-in-the-mouth meat, served on a crisped slab of polenta, with grilled veggies. Delicious. Thinking of you, Johnny!

We thought we’d try one or two more wineries before calling it a day. Rosehall Run was open, and we tasted the JCR Chardonnay, which is their heavier Chard. They make an unoaked one, too, but we like them big, and this one didn’t disappoint.  The Hungry Point Pinot Noir, was nice, with a little chokecherry dryness, and it’s reasonably priced.

We don’t do a lot of white-wine meals, so Caroline suggested we focus on reds. This backfired at Closson Chase. They had such a good year for reds that they committed to an LCBO order, and sold out. They were only tasting Chardonnays today. Their tasting fee was $7 for two samples, and although that would have been waived if we purchased, well, we’d just decided to stick to buying reds. We declined. Cool purple barn, though.

On impulse, we pulled in at Huff Estates, but it looked very upscale, with modern sculptures on the grounds and a tasting center that was all architecty. We reversed our impulse and pulled right back out again. Ever since our first trip to Napa Valley, ostentatious wineries are a turn-off for me; I have way more fun at the Mom & Pop garagistes. That’s right, there’s a word for wineries so small they fit in a single shed.

Which brings us to Black Prince. We went there to taste some of the Canadian Cellars artisan vinegars, and ended up buying two vinegars and two Cabernet Francs. We had great fun talking to Pete, who is a master cooper. He specializes in making barrels from oak sourced in Prince Edward County. It’s much more tightly grained than the French oak traditionally favored by winemakers, and imparts flavours to wine that are both different and more subtle. Long story short, we bought two bottles of a Cabernet Franc aged in typical oak, and one pricier bottle of a Cab Franc aged in the local oak.

Then we got into the vinegar tasting. That’s right, you’ll sip vinegar, and you’ll like it!

Like a wine tasting, you work from lightest to heaviest. We ended up purchasing a just-released apple-cranberry vinegar to use for some salad dressings (Pete wrote our names and the date on the bottle for us) and their Select #17 Pinot Noir vinegar.

Most fun we had all day!

Tonight, supper at Agrarian. Dinner Debriefing later.