Last week I wrote an overview of Prince Edward County, including practical information as well as things to see and do. This week I want to dig a little deeper into the food and wine aspect, since this is what the region is mostly known for.


If you’ve had Canadian wine before, there is a good chance it came from the Niagara Peninsula (Ontario) or the Okanagan Valley (British Columbia), the largest wine-producing regions. This past July, I also discovered the wines of Nova Scotia. Prince Edward County is yet another region that’s growing as a wine producer. Even in its home province of Ontario, few people know about it, but that’s beginning to change.

During my three-day stay, I visited four wineries and one cider house. The first three places below are located in the south-western corner of the county called Hillier where most wineries cluster. The last two are almost diagonally opposite, in North Marysburgh.

The Grange of Prince Edward

We were almost the only customers here, and enjoyed asking the employee questions about the wines. For $5 they served us three wine samples from their tasting menu. The tasting room was large and beautifully decorated, even featuring a fireplace.

Grange of Prince Edward winery (Prince Edward County)

Grange of Prince Edward winery

From Friday to Sunday they sell picnic baskets full of goodies that you can enjoy with a few glasses of their wine (or a whole bottle) at the picnic tables that overlook the vineyards.

Karlo Estates

The building here was very rustic, with a lot of unvarnished wood, but we were able to sit down at a table (rather than stand at a serving bar) and got to meet and talk to the owner himself.

Our B&B gave us a coupon which provided us each with a free wine sample. After that, samples were $1 each. The fun thing here is that each wine came with a little “snack” meant to bring out its flavour: chips, cashews, cheese, even wasabi corn kernels. I tried a white, a rose, and a red.

Sampling a rose at Karlo Estate (Prince Edward County)

Sampling a few wines at Karlo Estate

Sandbanks Estate Winery

This is one of the most popular and better known wineries in Prince Edward County and offers a large tasting menu in their modern shop. You can taste four samples for $3. Their wines bear whimsical names such as Dunes and French Kiss.

Outside their large shop and tasting room, you can sit in the yard on a colourful cottage wooden chair and enjoy a glass of wine, or just relax in the sun.

Sandbanks Estate Winery lawn and deck (Prince Edward County)

Sandbanks Estate Winery lawn and deck

Waupoos Estate Winery

Waupoos opened its doors in 2001 and is the oldest winery in the county. It occupies a beautiful setting right next to Lake Ontario. Getting here around midday, this was probably the busiest winery we visited. A few bubbly and rose wines (even a fumé blanc, with its distinct smoky taste) were free to sample, and more mainstream whites and reds could be tasted for $1 each. The sampling menu offered several fruity reds, and I ended up buying a wine called Flirty, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Baco Noir, Vidal, Riesling, and Seyval. They even had a few icewines.

Relaxing at Waupoos Winery (Picton)

Relaxing at Waupoos Winery. (Photo by Colette Mersy)

County Cider Company

Not far away, the rows of grapevines were replaced by rows of small apple trees bearing quickly ripening apples for the production of apple cider. All the ciders here have 6.5% alcohol, and some have been flavoured with fruit juices such as pear or peach. At only $0.50 each, the samples were a steal. I tried a couple, and ended up having an entire glass of the Waupoos cider on the patio ($4.60 with tax). This is what I had imagined this trip to be like, spending lazy afternoon hours drinking local beverages on sunny patios!

Apple trees at the County Cider Company (Prince Edward County)

Apple trees at the County Cider Company


As mentioned previously, we didn’t get to delve into the food as much as anticipated, due mostly to logistics (a.k.a large late breakfasts). However, talking to people and driving around on a dozen different rural roads, I got a good idea of what the region has to offer.


Prince Edward County is an agricultural area, and farms are everywhere. Some set up little fruit and veggie stands not far from the road, where visitors can stop and pick up some fresh produce for self-catering. It’s rather hard to predict where these will be however, unless you live here.

From late May to mid-October, the town of Wellington holds a Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings, but our visit didn’t overlap.

In some spots, big “U-Pick” or “Pick your own” signs greet you along the road. These refer to the ability to pick your own fruits in the farmer’s field, who then charges you by the weight. We saw a few for blueberries that said “closed”. 🙁 Did we miss the season? Were those only open on week-ends? I guess a mid-week visit has both advantages (less people) and disadvantages (less things are open).

Buying tomatoes from someone's garden!

Buying tomatoes from someone’s garden!

People with gardens will even leave their surplus veggies on the curb with a plastic container for money, hoping to make a few dollars and keep the food from going to waste. We came across this one selling beets (already all gone) and tomatoes by chance, as we stopped to photograph the beautiful house.


There are a few specialty food shops to be found, but they are not that prominent. We heard about a cheese shop that we wanted to check out: Black River Cheese on Road 13. They offered a few samples, and seemed to make mostly the well-known (at least in Canada) mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, but often with added flavours such as chipotle or chilli. We bought a chunk of maple cheddar which turned out to be surprisingly sweet.

Black River Cheese (Prince Edward County)

Black River Cheese

Picton had a few bakeries, and Waupoos Estate Winery offered an unexpected chocolate shop!


We were recommended three restaurants during our stay, in addition to two I had read about online. We only managed to hit one of those: Portabella, in Picton, which is described below.

We didn’t have reservations for Portabella (265 Main Street), and the only thing that saved us from a long wait was the fact that we arrived after 8 PM, on a Tuesday. There were still two couples ahead of us, but we didn’t have to wait long as several tables had just become available.

The space was cosy, with low light, and artwork on the walls. Once we were seated, service was very friendly and attentive. They helped us pick from the short menu (meat, fish, pasta) where many of the items were accompanied by rich cream sauces. I ordered a pecan-crusted chicken breast, and my friend had the fish. Our glasses of wine and a fresh warm bread basket arrived promptly, while the rest took a little while, but nothing excessive.

Portabella Restaurant, Picton

We both loved our entrees, which were sufficiently filling that we didn’t need dessert. But that bumble-berry cobbler looked pretty tempting! My bill (after tax but before tip) came to $32.49 CAD. That’s for one entree and one glass of wine.

The other restaurants I would have liked to try are:

As is common in more upscale restaurants in Canada, lunch is always cheaper than dinner (with somewhat smaller portions) so that may be something to consider if you’re travelling on a budget. Also make sure to check the website as the restaurants here tend to have limited hours, especially on weekdays, and will often close one day a week. Reservations are also strongly recommended at dinner time.

Update 2018: if you want to know more about food and drinks in Prince Edward County, a colleague has just published this post about Prince Edward County restaurants featuring beautiful photography.

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