Like Niagara-on-the-Lake, picturesque Prince Edward County is known for many things, but one of the tastiest has to be vino. The natural environment of Prince Edward County is ideal for viticulture, so it’s no surprise that many vineyards have sprung up and wineries been established here in the past couple of decades.
This guide to the best Prince Edward County wineries to visit includes some background on Prince Edward County and why it makes for a great vacation spot, how to get there, a suggestion for where to stay, as well as the top seven wineries to enjoy a tour, tasting, or tipple or two during your trip.
Where is Prince Edward County?
The municipality of Prince Edward County can be found in southern Ontario, Canada, on the northeastern shore of Lake Ontario. The county covers an area of around 1,050 square kilometers (405 square miles) and is home to a population of roughly 25,000 people. Not to be confused with Prince Edward Island, the county is technically an island (or, at least, a “detached peninsula”) in Lake Ontario.
Prince Edward County is best known for landmarks such as Sandbanks Provincial Park’s beautiful beaches and limestone cliffs, a restored Edwardian opera house in the town of Picton called The Regent Theatre, as well as Macaulay Heritage Park’s renowned 19th-century architecture.
History of Prince Edward County
The region that is now known as Prince Edward County has been inhabited for thousands of years and there are significant archaeological sites here, including the LeVescounte Mounds made by the people of Point Peninsula Complex, which date back 2,000 years.
The county in its colonial form was founded in 1792 by lieutenant-governor John Graves Simcoe and was named for Prince Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent (the fourth son of King George III), who was commander-in-chief of British North America at that time.
In modern times, the city of Prince Edward County was formed when the towns, townships and villages of Picton, Bloomfield, Wellington, Ameliasburgh, Athol, Hallowell, Hillier, North Marysburgh, Sophiasburgh and South Marysburgh amalgamated on January 1st 1998.
Today, Prince Edward County attracts visitors for many different reasons. Music lovers venture to the area for music festivals such as the Chamber Music Festival, Jazz Festival, Classical Unbound Festival, Country Jamboree, and 50s & 60s Rock N Roll Music Festival.
Vacationers stay at bed & breakfasts for a charming lakeside getaway, or to try out water spots such as wakeboarding, kayaking, canoeing and tubing. There are also important birding sites and plenty of theatre to enjoy.
However, one of the prime reasons to visit Prince Edward County is for the food and beverage scene. The city is a top culinary destination, with crowd-drawing names in cheese, wine, cider and beer. The wineries, distillers and hard-cider companies make Prince Edward County a delicious place to visit.
How to get to Prince Edward County
If you’re arriving from afar, you’ll be pleased to know that Prince Edward County is ideally situated at a comfortable driving distance from four major airports: Toronto Pearson International (two hours driving), Ottawa International Airport (three hours driving), Kingston Airport (70 minutes driving) and Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (four hours driving).
Fittingly for an island surrounded by the waters of Lake Ontario, the Murray Canal and the Bay of Quinte, one of the best and most scenic ways to arrive at Prince Edward County is by boat. You can reach the city via the Thousands Islands, Rideau Canal and Trent-Severn Waterway system, and there are plenty of docking and marina services around.
If you don’t have your own vessel, you can take the free Glenora Ferry, which connects Ontario to Prince Edward County and also takes cars. The ferry operates roughly every 30 minutes between 6am and 1.15am, departing Glenora on the hour and half hour; and Adolphustown at quarter to and quarter after the hour.
There are no direct trains into the county. The nearest train stations are in Oshwara and Belleville. From there, you can take a taxi or rent a car to drive the rest of the way.
There are Greyhound buses to Belleville from major cities such as Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa and Montreal, from where you can then rent a car, take a taxi, or take an additional bus to the Deseronto Transit bus station (which runs on weekdays only).
Once you’re in Prince Edward County, the best way to get around is with your own wheels, so it’s advised to rent a car. However, be mindful of the rural roads and watch out for cyclists and stray sheep!
Where to stay in Prince Edward County
The Waring House
11 McFarland Dr, Prince Edward, ON K0K 2T0, Canada
The Waring House is a restaurant, inn, conference center, and cookery school, which commands 49 guest rooms over five categories in five different settings.
Guests can choose to stay in The Main House (the Waring family’s limestone homestead), The House Next Door (19th century farmhouse), The Vineyard View Cottage (a renovated stone ice building), the Quaker Lodge, or the Heritage Lodge – all of which are a short walk from the main inn building.
Room rates start at CAD140 per night Sunday to Thursday in the entry-level Standard guest rooms, to CAD320 per night Friday and Saturday in the Vineyard View Cottage. Some rooms feature hot tubs, but these are temporarily unavailable due to Covid protocols.
The Waring House also boasts two popular restaurants: The Barley Room gastropub (live music Wednesday to Sunday) and Amelia’s Garden Restaurant for seasonal and regional dishes.
Top 7 Prince Edward County Wineries to Visit
1. Hinterland Winery
1258 Closson Rd, Hillier, ON K0K 2J0, Canada
The Hinterland Wine Company was founded by Jonas Newman and Vicki Samaras in 2007, and the brand is known for its premium sparkling wines, made using a version of the “ancestral method” from the French region of Bugey-Cerdon.
Popular wines to try include the traditional Les Etoiles rosé, the charmat Whitecap Riesling and the gamay Ancestral, the latter of which usually sells out within a couple of weeks of release.
Hinterland Winery is open from Thursday to Monday from 11am to 5pm, and is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Wine tastings are not available every day, usually just Friday to Sunday, and be sure to reserve in advance through the website. Wine tasting sessions are limited to six people and all participants must be at least 19 years old.
2. Closson Chase
629 Closson Rd, Hillier, ON K0K 2J0, Canada
Established in 1998 by Deborah Paskus and partners, Closson Chase combines centuries-old European traditions with sustainable and innovative modern techniques to create red, white, and sparkling fine wines from chardonnay, pinot noir, and Pinot Gris grapes.
In particular, the rich and cream chardonnays are a favorite, as well as the county-leading pinot noir, especially the Churchside.
Closson Chase Vineyards is open Monday to Friday from 12pm to 4pm, then Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 5pm. Wine tastings are available for up to six participants in the beautiful garden area of the winery or in the small tasting room and art gallery.
3. Rosehall Run
1243 Greer Rd, Wellington, ON K0K 3L0, Canada
Rosehall Run is one of Prince Edward County’s original wineries, founded by Dan and Lynn Sullivan on their 150-acre farm. The winery started with the planting of pinot noir and chardonnay grapes in the vineyards in 2001. Today, the vinifera encompasses Pinot Gris, sauvignon blanc, gewürztraminer, muscat and tempranillo. The terroir-driven wines produced here make use of the clay soil, which features rock and shale fragments on a calcareous limestone base.
Rosehall Run Vineyards is open daily from 11am to 5pm. Wine tastings are available during opening hours by reservation only, limited to six participants or less. The premium tastings consist of three of the estate-grown, critically-acclaimed and award-winning wines, at a cost of CAD10 per person.
4. Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards and Estate Winery
990 Closson Rd, Hillier, ON K0K 2J0, Canada
Founder Caroline Ganger and her daughter Maggie make “wild wines” that reflect their personalities, with each wine telling a story. Caroline planted the original vines on the family farm after returning home after 20 years to rest, heal and rediscover her roots.
Grapes grown include pinot noir, chardonnay, pinot gris, gamay, riesling and sauvignon blanc. The oaked Fume Blanc (sauvignon blanc) is a particular favorite.
The Grange is open daily from 11 am to 5 pm. Tastings and tours are available, though there are also “tasting kits” available for purchase, so you can take out your own wine tasting and enjoy the sampling at home.
Tasting kits start from CAD21 and include four one-ounce wine samples from the best wines in season (best consumed within six to eight weeks), a keepsake monogrammed tasting glass, tasting notes from the winemakers and technical information to learn more about the winemaking process, the story of the Grange and of the Granger Girls, as well as exclusive discounts for future bottle purchases.
5. Traynor Family Vineyard
1774 Danforth Rd, Hillier, ON K0K 2J0, Canada
The 5.5-acre vineyard was founded by Mike Traynor in 2008, though he had been working in the wine industry since 1997. The vineyard is focused on family and sustainability, with many permaculture practices and organic standards in place. The wines are also certified vegan.
The Traynor Family Vineyard is open daily from 11 am to 5 pm. Patio wine tastings are available on a walk-in basis, though reservations should be made for groups larger than four people (note that indoor tasting is closed temporarily due to Covid-19). Tastings consist of flights of three one-ounce pours from a range of wines from a daily changing list and cost CAD5, though additional flights may be purchased.
6. Redtail Vineyards
422 Partridge Hollow Rd, Consecon, ON K0K 1T0, Canada
Redtail Vineyards was founded in 2008 and is known for unpretentious, low-intervention wines that aim to truly represent vintage and terroir. Products are divided into classics (traditional methods) and alt-wines (small-batch experimental wines), with grapes including Pinot Gris, riesling, pinot noir, and chardonnay.
Redtail Vineyards is open daily from 10am to 4pm and seasonal tasting is available during opening hours on a walk-in basis. However, reservations should be made on Saturdays and for groups larger than six participants.
7. Casa Dea Winery
1186 Greer Rd, Wellington, ON K0K 3L0, Canada
Casa Dea Winery was founded by Domenic Di Pierantonio, whose passion for wine comes from his Italian upbringing in Abruzzi, where he entered into the priesthood and worked in the wine cellar of his monastery. The name Casa Dea translates to “Home of the Goddess,” though the winery is also named after Domenic’s wife, Dea.
With over 65 acres of planted vines, Casa Dea is one of few wineries in the region capable of producing true Prince Edward County VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) wines. The three tiers of wines produced here include estate wines, reserve wines (only released when the best taste and ideal profile is achieved), as well as limited edition wines.
Casa Dea Winery is open Sunday to Thursday 11am to 4pm, Friday to 5pm and Saturday to 6pm. The wine boutique tasting bar is open daily and a tasting of four award-winning wine samples starts at CAD8. If you would like a private tasting or you have a large group, it is better to make an appointment. There are also tours available, which culminate in tasting sessions. The on-site La Pergola Restaurant serves up delicious Italian dishes for lunch as well.
More Prince Edward County Wineries to Visit
Due to the excellent soil for grape-growing, these seven select wineries included in the list above are by no means the only wineries you can visit during a trip to Prince Edward County. Others that deserve an honorable mention include Exultet Estates, Hubbs Creek Vineyard, Huff Estates, Karlo Estates, Lacey Estates, Lighthall Vineyard, Long Dog Vineyard & Winery and Norman Hardie Winery & Vineyard, to name but a few.
If you have any recommendations for Prince Edward County wineries to add to this list, let us know in the comments below.