With two full days off and promise of nicer warmer weather I decided to plan a weekend getaway in the country. As simple as it is this has been on my bucket list of activities to do for quite some time so I was excited to do it early in spring. I have always wanted to explore Prince Edward County after hearing that the Drake Hotel set up shop there, not to mention all those cute victorian houses that are sprinkled throughout the area, giving me historic house envy. The area is known for its wineries and although I am more of a beer girl the idea of biking to different ones on a sunny day strolling through the country roads was very exciting to me. With a very loose plan, the open road and the cutest airbnb rental you ever did see we had the perfect weekend retreat, so here is my novice guide to Prince Edward County.
Where to stay:
It was surprising to see that there weren't too many airbnb listings in this area. The town itself still felt very authentic and quaint so maybe it will just be a matter of time before more listings spring up. This is the prettiest rental I ever found (that fits my aesthetic perfectly) I truly wanted to move in as Anna and Jaime (the hosts) designed my ideal country home. It was minimalist in design with Scandinavian touches and perfectly matched antique finds from the area. Every room was specifically thought out, the floors in the living room looked like reclaimed wood from centuries-old boards and the dining room table had perfectly matched mis-matched antique finds. The home itself originates from 1840 and has been restored with historic elements intact, a beautiful combination of old and new. The location was perfect, right in the heart of Picton and we were able to bike around the whole town. We loved this space, curling up by the gas fireplace at night watching my favourite hgtv show fixer upper after a night of drinking was the best! I highly recommend doing that.
A cool victorian house across the street.
The Wine Tour:
There are so many great wineries in the area, over 35 to be exact. We were given some great recommendations by friends who have visited the area and some locals. With that list we made our own to fit our biking route. We started at the Sandbanks Winery with its colourful lawn chairs and super friendly staff. This was my first ever wine tasting tour, so in truth I just picked the ones that had descriptions like hints of ripened peach and honey, and they all tasted great to me! After the Sandbanks we left our car and hopped on our bikes to the next two locations, a good 20 min bike ride away on the country roads. It was a beautiful day riding past the local farms, it smelt like the country, fresh with hints of manure. We arrived at Hinterland, a modern looking barn with a sophisticated yet rustic deer logo and beautiful interior. They specialize in sparkling wines and with only a handful in the world doing it they have a passion for quality and "matching the grapevine to the soil and climate." My favourite was the Ancestral, with flavours of cranberries and cherries, it was so so good!
Next stop was a recommendation from our spritely waitress, The Grange. Located by a lovely stream, a rustic and charming barn surrounded by epic scenery, I realized why she sent us there. The historic design and open space for picnics made it idyllic, and the wine was great too. For me its always about the environment and space created, an experience can be elevated with the right vibe and aesthetics. We had so much fun biking from winery to winery, it was the best way to experience the land and the wine.
Antique shops everywhere.
Where to eat:
The Drake Devonshire
The one place I just had to check out on this trip was The Drake Devonshire. I have heard so many incredible reviews and have always loved The Drake in Toronto. We went there for dinner during the countrylicous festival, a three-course prix fixe meal that had me wave my veganism for the weekend (I am a conscious eater for the most part and opted for vegetarian options). The restaurant was already buzzing, clearly other city folk had the same run-away-from-the-city plan as us, but they found us some room at the bar. I love siting at the bar, there is always more to see and hear and for us it was watching a new-ish mixologist stressing out over the never-ending cocktail list and talking himself through it, it was a one man comedy show and the older cultured patron with his dry goose requests (what is that?!!) made it so fun to watch (in the end he just wanted a grey goose vodka with some ice cubes). The sun was setting and hues of pink and gold danced in the distance, exquisitely seen through the massive glass windows enclosing the restaurant. Our bartender with his hipster glasses and denim uniform seemed like the poster child for the drake, he was super friendly and picked the most delicious beer for me to have with my meal, a local favourite, Barley Days harvest gold pale ale. It was so good that the next day we just had to stop in the brewery to pick some up. Our meal was incredible, the place was an architectural dream with just the right amount of country nods. I loved every moment in that place and will definitely return, and maybe we will finally make it to their 9:00am yoga class in the glass room.
The County Canteen
Owned by an Australian couple, something we found out after Eric ordered the kangaroo sausage, yup thats a thing! We went for lunch and then returned for an acoustic set by a local artist. This was one of the recommendations we found at our airbnb and it was perfect. Our waitress, a new expat to the area, lulled by the country life and escaping the concrete jungle, danced over to our table with the most spirited presence, you could tell she loved her job and the town. It was like she was our old friend giving us the lay of the land which prompted us to come back that night. The local act serenaded us with classic hits and an impromptu performance of don't speak, the whole bar sang along, and the music choices became ever more interesting after that. After our pint we headed over to the yacht club, another recommendation, with the promise of a local pirate party. We weren't all too sure what we would find but were told people were preparing their costumes for weeks, when in PEC...And a pirate party we did find, everyone dressed in their Pirates of the Caribbean finest, sipping dark and stormys and dancing to Michael Jackson in the strobe lights. It was perfectly random and we had a blast dancing to a couple hits before hopping on our bikes again for a slightly drunken bike ride home. We ended the night with hgtv, and toasted to our epic mini vacay.