Taste Community Grown 2019 — Ode to Prince Edward County

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Stunning morning view of Lake Ontario

Have you ever felt so drawn to a place, but you don’t know why? That’s Prince Edward County for me. Every time I come here, everything just feels…right. Comforting. I’ve always lived in cities and balked at the idea of living even in a small town, let alone the full-out country. But there’s something about this place. It’s irresistibly charming. So when my husband was offered a three-week job which involved staying in a lake house in the County, I obviously offered to tag along and keep him company.

It feels so good to be back! And as part of testing out this County living thing, I am trying to get to as many wine events as I can. This included last Saturday’s Taste Community Grown. As you may recall, this is the very same PEC wine and food event that dubbed me a “celebrity judge” back in 2016.

The 2019 edition took place on Saturday, September 28, at the Loch Sloy Hangar, a former airbase and Bombing and Gunnery School. This created a super retro backdrop for this local event.

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The event was already well underway when we arrived

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Wine and fighter jets!

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With glass and tokens in hand, we were ready to start tasting!

Our first stop was to the Trail Estate booth, one of my favourites in the County. This family-run, small-batch, low-intervention winery is doing such amazing things in terms of natural winemaking, and each vintage offers something new. Three years ago I practically fell head over heels with their wild-ferment riesling. This year, I tasted the 2017 chardonnay (yum!), but it was once again the riesling that had me in awe. Normally I can’t get past riesling’s vinyl-y aroma, but this 2018 pre-release skin-fermented Riesling is all minerality, lemon and peach in a perfectly round yet slightly zippy package. It’s no wonder this small-production winery sells out of most wines. Winemaker Mackenzie Brisbois is doing fabulous things at Trail. I foresee more in-depth tastings there in my near future.

[sidenote: You can taste this riesling at Ottawa’s newest Preston St. restaurant Grey Jay.]

Great quote from trailestate.com

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Trail’s riesling was a fabulous pairing with sweet and salty popcorn from Sunnydale Farms

The next stand we visited was Millefleurs, a budding apiary and lavender farm run by my former Algonquin somm classmate Sylvain Segard and his wife, Wilma. After retiring from their jobs in Ottawa, they moved to the County and built their business up from scratch in an astonishing four years. Not only did they plant all their lavender fields, they went from 2 beehives to 100, which is no small feat! They opened their doors this past Canada Day (i.e. July 1, 2019) and already have an insanely varied product line, from the obvious unpasteurized honey (including an addictive lavender-infused one) to lip balms, moisturizing bars, creams, soaps, essential oils, and sea salts. They even have plans to launch a honey mead in the near future…stay tuned!

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Sylvain with his lavender

After a couple more tastings, it was time for some food in our bellies. The husband lined up for a delicious slider from the Kaleidoscope food truck (their poutine also looked amazing) while I got a butter chicken tart from The Waring House stand. For dessert, quite possibly the best butter tart in the County, from Loyalist Jams.

Our take-home wine of the day hailed from By Chadsey’s Cairns. My husband ran over to me, glass in hand, and said “Taste this”. Seeing as I rarely see him this excited about a wine, I held it to my nose, and was hit with aromas of black cherry, strawberry and black pepper. This medium-bodied wine was oh-so-sippable, and there was something so familiar about it. Even after drinking tons of it earlier this summer, I never would have guessed it was a gamay. It was totally different from any Beaujolais I have tasted. Perhaps it’s the local limestone-based sandy loam and crushed shells—leftovers from the ice age now known as “Brighton Gravel”—it’s grown in. We definitely came home with a bottle or two. Oh, and if you happen to be looking to buy a winery, By Chadsey’s Cairns is for sale.

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By Chadsey’s Cairns 2018 Gamay Noir

We then wandered over to the Centre and Main stand to taste some of their chocolatey wares and were blown away. The Affogato (coffee and ice cream, remember?) chocolate was a hugely successful pairing with our last sip of BCC gamay, with the chocolate bringing out even more of the dark fruity flavours in the wine.

Then we dropped a small fortune on chocolate. It’s that good. Check out this selection and try not to drool.

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County wine has certainly evolved over the years. I remember not thinking much of the wine I tasted here ten years ago, but as the vines mature and get more established in the soil, the wines are clearly becoming more refined. I can’t wait to see what the next ten years will bring for PEC wines.

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Karlo Estates has a fascinating Petite Pearl – it’s a hybrid red grape with lots of ripe fruit, cedar and vegetal notes, with crazy acidity and good tannin!

Also, most wineries offer delivery within Ontario, so even if your favourite wine isn’t available at the LCBO, you can still get your hands on it without having to drive to the County. But why wouldn’t you want to? Gorgeous views of Lake Ontario, friendly locals, amazing farm-fresh food and lots of great wine, beer, and cider right at your doorstep. It’s going to be a good three weeks!

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Good morning!

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Lavender sunset

What’s your favourite PEC wine?

Happy wining!

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2 thoughts on “Taste Community Grown 2019 — Ode to Prince Edward County

  1. The “good morning” picture is amazing!

    I agree, I like the region even though I feel more comfortable in big cities. It’s just… relaxing for a while, not that Ottawa is particularly stressful.

    Liked by 1 person

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