Ontario's Prince Edward County

©2018 Robert A Bell

Located across Lake Ontario from the Niagara Peninsula and a bit east off Toronto is Prince Edward County. Prince Edward County is Ontario`s newest wine region. The growing season is as long as the Niagara Region's with winters that are colder. Vineyards grow next to Lake Ontario, which has a moderating effect on the air temperatures. PEC has become famous for its limestone-rich, fertile and well drained clay loam soil. Climate: Hot and sunny, Hillier is one of the driest areas of Ontario with a moderating easterly breeze from Lake Ontario. The winters, however, can drop to temperatures that may threaten survival of the crops. For this reason, all vines are covered with soil for the winter.

Agriculture, whether involving wine or not, has been central to the county’s way of life for centuries. In the early 1800s, Prince Edward County was known as the “Canning Capital of Canada,” supplying a third of all of the canned goods in Canada, the UK and the US. Whether it was peas, carrots or peaches, Prince Edward County propped up its economy on these canned goods.

In the late 1800s there was mention of the first grape growers in the region but the Prohibition movementput a stop to that. It was not untill the 1980s that a few growers popped up in the region. Officially identified in 2007 as a VQA appellation of origin, Prince Edward County terroir features loose gravely soil types that lay atop the broad Trenton limestone plateau. These soils provide good structure, ample drainage, shale and minerals for healthy development of vines and fruit with character.


Waupoos Estate Winery

Ed Neuser, a German-born machinist who came to Canada in 1957, purchased the 100-acre farm century-old house in 1983. Ed chuckles when he recalls the night that he and his wife Rita decided to try planting grapes. “It was after a couple glasses of wine, or maybe it was a couple of bottles,” he jokes. “Everybody thought we were off our rockers – we had no experience growing grapes or making wines.” They named their winery which opened in 2001Waupoos Estate Winery after the local village.


Grange of Prince Edward Estate Winery

The Grange of Prince Edward Estate Winery a family run business was established in 2002 by Robert Granger and his daughter Caroline.

"On our farm, and in our vineyards, we let the land be everything that it is supposed to be, thriving, wild, and perfectly imperfect. We believe that winemaking is a powerful connection to time and place. Be firmly rooted wherever you are and let your wine be alive with what pushes and pulls you. And make time to enjoy a bottle of great wine with people who make your heart sing" -Caroline Granger

The winery opened in 2004 and has grown and prospered ever since Caroline's daughter Maggie joined the winery in 2010.  Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling in whites as well as Gamay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc in reds are produced each year

Black Prince Winery was conceived by John Sambrook (General Manager of the Opimian Society) in 2000, who wanted to establish a winery in this lovely, picturesque area of Prince Edward County. This region has the viticultural landscape to produce first-rate wines with the vineyards located on a fertile, sandy loam ridge The Black Prince was an Edward (Edward County), eldest son of Edward III.

Recipient of the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence, Black Prince has produced fine accessible wines for over 15 years 

The vineyards 10 acres planted; Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, Baco Noir, Regent, Marechal Foch and Seyval Blanc. The winery is currently producing 5,000 cases with production plans for 10,000. Black Prince brand sits as “Many Terrior, One Winery” having wine available from Black Prince as well as some of the small grape growers in PEC, such as Bella Vigne and Hillier. Visitors are invited to experience wine crafted from many of the diverse vineyards in “The County” and find some medieval lore along the way.

Casa-Dea Estates Winery, founder Domenic Di Pietrantonio began growing grapes near in Hillier in 2000. After immigrating to Canada in the 1950's Domenic found great success in the manufacturing industry but his passion to make great wine was still unfulfilled. It was this passion that took him back to Italy years later to study the art of winemaking (oenology/viticulture). Upon his return to Canada he started planting a vineyard on Cold Creek Road in Prince Edward County, which is still one of our production vineyards. In 2009, Domenic purchased a second vineyard and it's winery which is now Casa-Dea Estates Winery.

In 1998 Geoff Heinrick and Deborah Paskus studied the soil of Prince Edward County determining that outstanding Burgundian could do well. After producing successful wines Seaton Mclean and his wife Sonja Smits who had purchase a country home in the area offered to back Deborah leading to the open of Closson Chase in 2004

This charming winery is housed in a heritage barn that has been restored and refurbished to accommodate a tasting room, a shop offering a connoisseur's selection of exclusive wine accessories, crystal and glassware as well as the processing facilities

Deborah Paskus, one of Canada's premier winemakers is using centuries-old European traditions to create the exceptional Pinot Noirs and Chardonnay's that the County is building its reputation on.

By Chadsey's Cairns Winery Tasting room
By Chadsey's Cairns Winery

By Chadsey's Cairns Winery and Vineyard rests on a 141-acre heritage farm overlooking Lake Ontario, about 5 km west of WellingtonRichard Johnston and his wife Vida Zalnieriunas, began planting vines in 1999 with 3000 Riesling in the field next to the Applehouse Ira built in about 1850, which now houses their tasting room and store. Named after Ira Chadsey, an early settler who built stone cairns at the back of the farm to guide him home in the afterlife when he returned as a white horse, the winery, By Chadsey’s Cairns, has become an iconic county touchstone.

There most popular wines are Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Sandbanks Estate Winery is owned by Catherine Langlois. Catherine studied winemaking in Burgundy. She worked briefly for an Ontario winery before seeking her own property in 1999. Planting 2.5 hectares (6 acres) of vines: mostly Vidal, Baco Noir, Riesling and Cabernet Franc, as well as some Geisenheim, Pinot Noir, and Maréchal Foch. Sandbanks Winery's vines are planted on a south-facing within sight of Lake Ontario, which moderates the temperature during the year. They are rooted in soil made up of well-drained clay and limestone rock. Please see

Bergeron Estate Winery David and Mary Bergeron made the exciting, but highly frightening, decision to jump into the wine industry back in 2001. the estate now boasts ideal growing conditions for their Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Vidal, Riesling and Gewurtraminer grapes. The picturesque backdrop of the waterfront sets the stage for many local and international customers . They also produce Cole Point Cider.

As wines from Canada became popular with the public the growth of wineries increased.

Karlos Estate
Karlos Estate

Among those we must mention Karlos Estate founded by the late Richard Karlo. The vines were first planted in 2005 the winery opening in 2010. The tasting room is located in a 1880's barn. Today the winery is run by Karl's wife Sherry. The winemaker is the Derek Barnett

Karlo is the first Certified Vegan winery in the World. This vegan certification is a result of their belief in the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle on health and environmental welfare.

Hillier Creek Estates
Hillier Creek Estates

 

Hillier Creek Estates In the fall of 2000, Amber and Kemp Stewart purchased the property that is now Hillier Creek Estates. Though the property had not been inhabited for 15 years, the land had quite a bit of history, tracing its roots to the Loyalist days of the County. Today the estate has 25,000 plants (Pinot Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay and Riesling) on 30 acres. A distinguishing feature of the vineyard is that a creek (of which there are few in the County because of the limestone base) runs through the property.

Exultet Estate Winery Small, family owned & operated boutique winery producing authentic, estate grown - made - bottled - artisanal wines: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Vidal Icewine, fortified wines & apple wine. Located in the south east end of the county. Won the 2016 Lieutenant Governor's Award for Excellence in Ontario Wine for 2013 Chardonnay "the Blessed"

Rosehall Run Vineyards opened in 2006. The winery offers an intimate, authentic look at viticulture in the County. The founders are Dan Sullivan, Cam Reston, Lynn Sullivan, Cindy Zwicker Reston . The adventure began in 2000 when they purchased a 150-acre farm on Greer Road in Hillier.

Sugarbush Vineyards a small family winery that opened in 2007. Rob and Sally Peck with their new daughter purchased a nineteen hectares farm and began planting vines in 2002. currently producing Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, and Pinot Noir. The back 5-6 acres of our property contains sugar Maples. In the future the Pecks hope to take advantage of the maple trees and produce maple syrup as well as wine.

The 25 acre vineyard has Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Chardonnay Musque, Ehrenfelser. Soil type Hillier Clay (clay with limestone gravel/rock over fractured limestone. The first vintage was 2004. Estimated cases between 6,000 - 8,000

Cape Vineyards in 2010, after many years of wine making and researching the best land in Prince Edward County, Michael Lewis found Cape Vessey. He purchased 120 acres of prime land protected by a limestone rock escarpment and Lake Ontario. The property included a large vineyard that was planted in the 1990's that needed extensive work to restore, it was the perfect canvas to build the winery.

Slowly and carefully along with his partner Kristen Rogers the vineyard was brought back to life. Their approach was to do the work ourselves and use biodynamic farming principals with respect for our land and surrounding water. Taking a minimalist approach to any sprays that are required. They saved as much vinifera as possible and added additional varietals to round out a balanced portfolio.

Construction of the winery started in January 2013. Micheal and Kristen took on most of the build themselves. With the enlisted help of family and friends, the building was wrapped up with our opening to the public in July 2014.

Among the newer wineries you have Barnyard Wine Co (3630), 33 Vines, Devil's Wishbone Winery ,Trail Estate Winery , Broken Stone Winery,Del-Gatto Estates , Cold Creek Vineyards and Gravel Hill Vineyards

The County Cider Company owned by Grant Howes. The historical farm house can be traced back to 1835. Current day operations began in 1976. County Cider has the largest orchard of selected European cider apples in North America. With a reputation for quality ciders County Cider has proceeded to plant 5 acres of grapes.

Also see Prince Edward County winery listings

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