Destinations / YYZ / Canada • Toronto

Prince Edward County Wineries and Non-Sober Biking


August 19, 2020

Originally I had wanted the title of this blog post to be “How To Survive Biking to 6 Prince Edward County Wineries In 6 Hours Without Falling Into A Ditch.” Apt though it may be, it was far too long and not suitable for SEO purposes.

Just a lil’ peek behind the curtain there 🙈

The last time I road a bike, I almost crashed into a tobacco field in Viñales, Cuba yet I somehow thought throwing alcohol into the mix would improve my chances of survival…? Sound logic. Not only that, but within minutes you’re sweating balls and your calves are burning as you struggle your way up hills while cars zoom within inches of you on the narrow country roads, throwing up thick clouds of dust in their wake.

That’s not even to mention the state of your undercarriage after a full day of biking. No bueno.

BUT aside from those teensy details, spending the day biking around the Prince Edward County wineries in the Hillier area was as idyllic as as the ‘Healthy Glow’ filter made it look on my Instagram stories.

There were rolling fields with honest-to-goodness bales of golden hay, blue skies, rustic patios and massive, weather-worn barns and cheers-ing with endless glasses of high quality wine with the welcoming community of vinters. 


How to tour the Prince Edward County wineries:

+Rental: Closson Road Cycles is ideally located right in the middle of all of the action. You can rent a bike (or a tricycle if you’re accident-prone) if you want to explore on your own OR they also offer tours (and tandem bikes).

+ Bike Tour: If you prefer someone in-the-know to guide you around the local wineries and provide some background,  join a bike tour like Sip & Cycle with The County Wine Tours.

+ Limousine Tour: If you think biking around from winery to winery is a recipe of a drunken cycling disaster….you’re not wrong. The problem with going by car is that it requires a designated driver which means no fun for one unlucky person. Tour the Prince Edward County wineries in style with Limestone Limousine.

Tips for touring Prince Edward County wineries:

+ Stay hydrated: Drink ALL the water. Not only will you get dehydrated from all of the sun and heat but you’ll also be drinking glass upon glass of sugary wine. You may have to take more bathroom breaks but it beats having a killer hangover.

+ Sun protection: Good weather is always ideal for a day spend outside but the sun will really take it out of you. Make sure that you apply a strong SPF, bring sunglasses and wear a hat if you’re extra cautious or prone to burning.

+ Plan your route: You could always just wing it; stopping in to wineries as you pass by, but I personally like to go into things with options. I usually create a list of my must-visits, plop them into Google maps to see where they’re located in relation to each other and plot a loose route to be efficient with my time.

+ Be prepared: If you’re planning to cycle around, rent your bike ahead of time or you’ll be stuck with a tandem bike the day of. Most wineries close pretty early so if you’re really looking forward to visiting a specific one, check their operation hours. Some wineries conduct on-site tours that fill up months in advance so book in advance!

RELATED READING:

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Now that you’re prepared with tips and mode of transportation, here are the Prince Edward County wineries to add to your bike route (organized by location)  including a cider house and brewery for your drinking enjoyment:

The Old Third Vineyard

Paying homage to the the rich history of the county, the vineyard was eponymously named after what locals called the area in the late 1800s — The Old Third.

This property marks the beginning of Closson Road, commonly referred to as the ‘Golden Mile’ of Prince Edward County wineries.

Park your bike to side of the weather-worn, 3-storey barn before entering to consult the nearby chalkboard for the daily specials. You may have come for an unfiltered chardonnay or a pleasantly fizzy cider made of golden russet apples, but stay for their in-house pasta bar, Quattro Amici 🍝

Prince Edward County wineries - The Old Third

I fretted between the tagliatelle alla bolognese and the lemon ricotta ravioli, my love of twirly noodles won out in the end. I regret nothing. I was practically vibrating with joy as I dug into the fresh AF pasta covered in meaty sauce sprinkled with parmesan cheese and fresh basil while sipping on a robust riesling.

The Old Third Vineyard  |  251 Closson Rd, Hillier

 

Closson Chase Vineyards

Fun Fact: The winemaker of Closson Chase Vineyards also owns Closson Road Cycles just up the road (where we rented our bikes) with his wife, making for a very convenient commute.

Prince Edward County wineries - Closson Chase Vineyards

Vibrant against thriving fields of vines, you can’t miss the striking purple structure that provides an aubergine backdrop for an IG-worthy photo opp 🍇

Head out back and settle under the multi-hued canopies or find shade under the trees along the edge of the lawn and enjoy a flight of house wines. Leisurely sip on chilled rosé amid the fragrantly blooming garden and relaxed chatter of nearby (but not TOO nearby #socialdistancing) patrons.

Closson Chase Vineyards  |  629 Closson Rd, Hillier 

 

Lacey Estates Winery

Take the steep, hilly driveway leading to Lacey Estates at a charge because you’ll never make it to the top without plenty of momentum! I suppose walking the bike up is acceptable albeit much less fun and satisfying.

Prince Edward County wineries - Lacey Estates

Chat about the daily wines with the owner before carrying a wooden board bearing a flight of wines borne from the clay-loam soils of the Hillier area to the porch or lounge in the Adirondack chairs out front to watch other cyclists pedal by.

Lacey Estates Winery  |  804 Closson Road, Hillier

 

Grange of Prince Edward Winery

Cycle your way along the lengthy farm lane towards the great, wooden estate nestled between lush meadows and a nearby marsh.

Prince Edward County wineries - Grange of Prince Edward Winery

We had unexpected company for happy hour

Despite its size, the Grange Vineyard maintains the home-y, intimate vibe of a family cottage with picnic tables in the shade of towering trees and chickens 🐓 pecking lazily nearby.

Prince Edward County wineries - Old Salt Cocktails

Go for the requisite wine tasting or grab a fancy libation from Old Salt Cocktails, a pop-up mobile cocktail bar on site. If you’re starting to feel peckish from all the biking but don’t want to interrupt your tour of the Prince Edward County wineries, there’s also a gourmet hot dog cart.

Ukiyo Sausage via @oldsaltcocktails

Feast on drool-worthy concoctions like the Ukiyo Sausage 🌭 featuring Tonkatsu, kewpie mayo, furikake, pickled ginger, seaweed salad and crushed nori.

Grange of Prince Edward County Winery  |  990 Closson Rd, Hillier

 

Hinterland Wine Company

The name of a Welsh drama series and one of the Prince Edward County wineries with a gorgeous outdoor space overlooking a sweeping vineyard.

Prince Edward County wineries - Hinterland

Lock your bike up at the front or wheel it around back to the rustic patio and snag a refreshing drink. Hinterland is known for producing premium sparkling wine but after cycling in the hot sun all day, I opted for a peach bellini 🍑 to cool me down.

Take pause with your glass of bubbly and drink in the view of the property from one of the picnic tables or a low Adirondack chair. Before leaving, I picked up a bottle of sparkling cherry cider 🍒 — tart and fizzy — the perfect accompanying refreshment for binging Netflix at home.

Hinterland Wine Company  |  1258 Closson Rd, Hillier

 

Loch Mór Cider Company

About now is the ideal time to allow your palate a wee break from all the wine guzzling at the various Prince Edward County wineries and give the cider at Loch Mór a whirl.

Prince Edward County wineries - Loch Mor Cider

The quality of this cider is ensured by pressing heritage apple varieties on-site during harvest season in small batches 🍎 The result is an award-winning dram that is both dry and hearty yet pleasantly fizzy with flavour to spare.

No matter the temperature, indulging in a glass on the patio with a majestic vista of the family orchard will give you all the sweater weather feels.

They even had a lovely apple port, perfectly paired with an indulgent cheese board, dessert or — if you want to combine the two — cheesecake..? I am full of amazing ideas.

Loch Mór Cider Company  |  890 Danforth Rd, Hillier

Karlos Estates

As most of the Prince Edward County wineries close around 5pm, we saved Karlos Estates for our last stop of the day (Sunday to Thursday 6pm close, Friday and Saturday 8pm close).

Prince Edward County wineries - Karlos Estates

I’m not going to lie, after a full day of drinking sugary wines and not nearly enough water on an excessively hot and sunny day, I was hurting. And I’m not just talking about my undercarriage from all the biking. By the time we arrived at the faded red barn from 1805 that houses the wine company, I was grateful to collapse on the provided picnic blankets on the lawns out back.

It was an idyllic setting — festive groups sipping artisanal wine under twinkly lights as a live band performed in the background 🎶 — but really at odds with my crumbling physical state.

But I digress. Vegans rejoice as Karlos Estates is the first vegan certified winery in the world! My vegan companion was happily snacking on her picnic box full of faux-cheese, fruits and crackers while I passed out beside her….probably snoring from heat exhaustion, glass of wine delicious but forgotten in hand 😴

Karlos Estates  |  561 Danforth Rd, Wellington

 

Waupoos Estates Wineries

After a full day of cycling through the countless Prince Edward County wineries in the Hiller area, Start the following day by dragging your poor, exploited liver to explore the Picton side.

Prince Edward County wineries - Waupoos Winery

Waupoos Estates Winery is spread across an expansive, impeccably manicured property offering farm-to-table meals at the on-site restaurant in the gazebo and regular tasting tours.

If you’re feeling more of a choose-your-own-adventure vibe, grab a drink and head down towards the waterfront pier 🌊 The view of Lake Ontario is perfectly paired with a chilled glass of chardonnay on a balmy day.

There’s plenty to do in the area besides visiting the vineyard — a petting zoo for the animal lovers 🦙, blueberry picking, Clafeld Cider House (in case wine isn’t your thing) and farmer’s markets. If you’re looking to expand your cider palate, the highly-rated County Cider Company is a short drive up the street as well.

Waupoos Estates Winery  |  3016 Prince Edward County Rd 8, Picton

 

Parsons Brewing company

Getting a bit weary of wine swirling? Shhh, you never know when a local vintner may overhear you. Press pause on your tour around the Prince Edward County wineries and drop by the family-owned Parsons Brewery 🍻

Prince Edward County wineries - Parsons Brewing

You’re welcomed into the seemingly boundless Picton-based property by a bright orange, vintage Volkswagen van parked at the entrance. The massive 150-year old heritage lumber buildings are surrounded by lush hop vines hanging from wooden rafters and a beer garden complete with an unstructured playground beyond a herd of picnic tables for alfresco dining.

Grab some shade and guzzle a refreshing fruity ale or a tart mango sour and munch on fresh empanadas or Elote 🌽 an elaborate confection of Ontario sweet corn topped with stout caramelized onions and chorizo, smothered in  BBQ sauce and Cotija cheese.

Parsons Brewing Company  |  876 County Rd 49, Picton


At the end of a full day of biking from winery to winery, I was W R E C K E D 😵 We lucked out with great weather but being in the sun and heat for so long, drinking copious amounts of wine and not enough water was a painful combination. Not to mention resulted in a super sore…“downstairs” situation if you catch my drift.

But I’d do it all over again, maybe taking my own (previously stated) tips because it was a glorious time exploring the charming Prince Edward County wineries.

Looking for more local trips from Toronto? Consider giving glamping a shot!

Keep your stalking game strong and follow me @teriaki if you aren’t already!