Recently Maria and I embarked on a retired teachers bus tour of 4 Prince Edward County wineries. The bus from Smiths Falls picked us up in Carleton Place at 7:30 AM. A painless trip? Well, not so fast – read on.
We drove to Perth, picked up our remaining passengers and then headed to Kingston through the country. When we got on to Highway 401 we were making good time until we got near the Deseronto Road exit. Then we heard a bang, which we thought might be a flat tire. It turned out to be a broken hose to the turbocharger on the engine. We could not go at high speed after this mishap so we had to wait for a service guy from Napanee to fix the hose. This took about 45 minutes and didn’t fill us with a lot of confidence. Was this going to be a replay of our Vancouver Tour in May? Above is a picture of where we stopped. Not too civilized.
Well we did make it to Prince Edward County and then our driver got lost and had to stop at a gas station to get directions to Waupoos Winery. After a driving tour of downtown Picton we were on our way and arrived about a half hour later.
The Waupoos winery was very impressive. The washroom facilities were not – one unisex facility and 20 women in various states of need. Maria and I went for a walk around the building and she inadvertently stepped off the verandah and did a faceplant in the turf. The verandah was like the one in the picture but on the opposite side – and fortunately had some green space below.
Maria banged up her knees, shoulder, chin and worst of all bruised her hand quite badly. We didn’t get any wine tasting in here because we were looking for icepacks for her hand. She’s still recovering from the fall.
After another tour of Picton we went for a nice lunch at the Waring House. Well recommended.
Next we had a short journey to the Black Prince Winery – although our driver missed the entrance and had to turn around in the parking lot of the Pentecostal Church nearby, (Don’t ask.)
Black Prince featured some nice wines, a knowledgeable Winemaker and a big friendly cat named Duke who looked a lot like an upsized version of Mr. Oates. Duke is apparently “starved for human companionship” after the winery closes in December. He is used to being petted and fussed over by 250 visitors every day. Nice job if you don’t mind company.
Then we were off to the Huff Estates west of Picton. It is an impressive winery but the folks there didn’t seem to expect us so they had to scramble to get ready for our wine tasting.
Adjacent to the winery was an art gallery with outdoor sculptures that would grace any mansion. Bring money though – lots of it – if you want to buy anything. We are talking tens of thousands of dollars – even in Canadian that’s a lot!
We headed back through Picton again to Lake on the Mountain. Yes our driver missed the turn and had to get directions.
Our final objective was the Devil’s Wishbone winery – which we had not visited due to late arrival in the morning. This winery was in an old barn that has been lovingly restored. Their wine maker does things the old school way, they provide an excellent sit down wine pairing and tasting session, and their small but excellent selection of wines makes the Devil’s Wishbone well worth a return visit. They make a little over 1000 cases of wine per year – a tiny amount. Not nearly enough to get a place in the Provincial wine stores. DW was really the highlight of the tour. Save the best for last, I always say.
Most wineries in Prince Edward County are similar in size to DW, and all of them are quite young. The oldest is Waupoos and it’s only been around since 2001.
After (enough already) one final drive through downtown Picton we were on our way home – tired, battered, bruised and certainly a little bit buzzed. We finally got back to Carleton Place around 7:30 PM after no more mishaps and were home a half hour later. Mr. Oates was happy to see us. We didn’t tell him we had petted the Duke earlier in the day.
I plan to stay off the buses for awhile if I can manage it, though!