With its unique terroir, cool climate and passionate winemakers, the region has quickly gained a reputation in Ontario for producing high-quality wines that reflect the distinct character of the area.
Today, there are more than 40 wineries in Prince Edward County, each with its own unique style and approach to winemaking. From small and family-run to larger and more established, each winery in the County offers visitors the opportunity to explore, taste and savour some of the finest wines that Canada has to offer.
Whether you’re a seasoned connoisseur or simply want to savour a sip of vino from time to time, this picturesque region is here as you raise a glass to the world-class flavours the area has to offer and celebrate Ontario’s rightful place on the world’s wine stage.
The (Modern) History of Winemaking in Prince Edward County
The first grapes in the region were planted back in the mid-nineteenth century by one Dorland Nixon, who was awarded a gold medal for his wine at the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition. But for the sake of time, we’ll focus on the modern era of winemaking in Prince Edward County, which got its start back in 1993.
It was when the first vines were planted at Waupoos Estate Winery as nothing more than an ambitious experiment to see what would grow in the area. And to everyone’s surprise, the vines thrived.
Today, Waupoos now has 20 acres of established vineyards growing 18 varieties of grapes. And its wines have placed in national and international wine competitions, with an impressive medal count that’s rapidly growing.
Its accomplished winemaker, Amy Baldwin, is the chief talent behind a unique series of wines, which perfectly embody the beautiful, one-of-a-kind harmony only nature and science can produce.
Without a doubt, Waupoos is responsible for officially ushering in a new era for The County and setting in motion a thriving industry with a collection of wineries showcasing a distinct personality, charm and flavour all its own.
Now that’s something we’ll toast to. (Whether it’s a cool and fruity Riesling or a vanilla-infused Pinot Noir is up to you!).
Your Picton Wineries Map
Prince Edward County is putting the area on the Ontario wine map in more ways than one. But with more than so many wineries to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Admittedly, it’s a great problem to have.
First-time visitor? Here’s what you need to know: the most concentrated corner is framed by Belleville Street (rural road 2) and Loyalist Parkway (rural road 33) between the pretty, picturesque towns of Wellington and Hillier. So you can stop, sip and savour a variety of wines in a short window of time.
But here’s the thing: you can easily spend more than a full day here (and trust us, you’ll want to), which is why you may want to check out our welcoming vacation rentals as you plan your trip. If that’s the case, we invite you to get in touch with us and we can help make your planning a little easier.
In the meantime, this map showcases all the wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries in one convenient, easy-to-use place so you can handily navigate your way around this world-class wine region that makes it tricky to stop at one sip. (Just don’t drink and drive! If you want to enjoy all The County has to offer, consider a shuttle service so you can safely indulge.)
Just want someone to tell you where to go? Get your wine glasses ready. Here are our top picks. (Keep in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive. There are some other really amazing wineries in Prince Edward County. We’re just here to help you get started!).
Waupoos Estate Winery
We’d be remiss to write an article on some of the best wineries in Prince Edward County without mentioning the original: Waupoos Estates Winery.
Since 2000, it’s welcomed thousands of visitors each year, all eager to sample sips of the wines that made The County famous in the first place.
Its founders, Ed Neuser and Rita Kaimins, had “no experience growing grapes, let alone making wine”, but it seems they were onto something nonetheless. Today, the winery has an entire series of wines on its roster – the Terroir, Appassimento, Reserve and Flagship, to be exact – and is always exploring new production methods.
“Waupoos Estates has always enjoyed exploring the opportunities of what is possible to produce in Prince Edward County,” says Amy Baldwin, head winemaker. “We’ve got over 16 varieties planted, some cold hardy hybrids and some vinifera to really see what is possible. We carry that over to the production and have fun trying different techniques and styles.”
Their philosophy when it comes to winemaking? Keeping it natural.
“My winemaking philosophy is to try and keep things as natural as possible and really let the grapes’ characteristics shine through,” explains Amy. “Our goal is to produce classically profiled wines with little intervention. Every growing year is different and we are at the mercy of Mother Nature, some years can be more demanding than others and require more intervention.”
Here, flights with four samples of wine (all here are vegan-friendly), go for just $12, and you can grab a charcuterie board for a light snack during your tasting.
Also on offer are walking tours of the winery, which weave through the vineyard, and allow you to learn about how the wines are made. Once complete, you’ll enjoy an outdoor tasting of four selected wines with four complimentary food pairings.
The winery also offers cellar tastings, which provide an informative tasting experience with a view. During this experience, you’ll enjoy a speciality-selected flight of Reserve and Barrel wines, matched with complimentary food pairings. Added bonus: you can enjoy a glass of your favourite wine on the grounds after your tasting and you’ll get a logo glass to bring home.
If you really want to soak in the experience and grab life by the grapes, so to speak, ask about their Estate Experience Tour, which includes a luxury golf cart tour of the property with tasting stops along the way. You’ll learn about the winery’s winemaking and farming philosophy while you take in the spectacular sights of the vineyard and gardens, and then enjoy a wine tasting in the cellar with exclusive access to its library wines and barrel samples. From there, you’ll be escorted to the on-site restaurant for a curated, five-course meal.
For more info on the tours, visit their website.
In June 2004, Huff Estates made its grand debut in Prince Edward County, its breathtaking, modern facility focused on one thing: producing high-quality wines.
Today, the winery has a lineup of fantastic wines to choose from, from a Pinot Gris with memorable notes of citrus, pear and white florals to an Old Vine Cabernet Franc with notes of ripe black fruit.
Winemaker Frederic Picard has done vintages in various regions throughout the world, including France, Italy, South Africa, Chile, California and finally (much to our delight), Prince Edward County.
During your visit, you have the option to choose from three types of tastings and sample the masterful work that his talent has created.
Traditional Tastings offer a flight of three wines for $10 from the winery’s regular tasting menu. Within 20 minutes, you get a quick hit of what the winery offers and get a great idea of what you like.
Want to stick around a little longer? Experience Tastings offer four flights of wine for $25. This seated tasting, which lasts 30 minutes with a senior staff member, gives you the opportunity to taste older vintage library wines.
You can opt for Dealer’s Choice (let the staff curate a tasting just for you), Pick-Your-Own (pick what you want), or Rolling Experience (themed tastings that change regularly). Add on a cheese pairing for an additional $10 and you’re all set.
The Barrel Cellar Tastings, however, are for those who don’t mess around when it comes to great wine. This 45-minute experience features a flight of three wines plus one barrel sample. You’ll taste privately (this experience is reserved for groups of two to six), and get a tour of the production facility along with a cheese pairing. Reservations are required, so make sure you book ahead before your visit.
If you want to spend the night, this winery also features a beautiful inn with deluxe rooms and suites so you can sip all day and sleep all night in style and comfort.
Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyard
Its wines are served in over 20 Michelin Star restaurants across Europe. And if that doesn’t say it all, what will?
Crafting a wide variety of cool climate wines – think a fruity and bright Pinot Noir and a tart and citrusy Chardonnay – this Wellington-based facility has a whole slew of accolades under its winemaking belt, including the 2019 National Wine Awards of Canada gold medal. And in 2013, The World of Fine Wine awarded the winery with honours as the Top-Rated North American Chardonnay.
Tastings take place both indoors and outdoors, so even if the weather is abysmal (let’s face the facts: we are in Canada), your palate will be pleased.
For an extra-special experience, check out the winery’s Curated Winery Tour and Tasting Experience, which allows you to walk the vineyard and learn about all its magic.
You’ll enjoy an exclusive tasting of premium offerings in the Barrel Cellar featuring back-vintage library treats and samples taken directly from its French oak barrels. Learn more and book this tour in advance.
While its wines are truly something to behold, the winery is just as famous for its wood-fired pizzas, which have been developed by top chefs from some of Toronto’s finest restaurants, including Pizzeria Libretto, Terroni, Ortolan, and Mattachioni. The only thing to be aware of: the pizza oven opens May 3, 2023, so you’ll have to wait until the weather gets a little warmer for your pizza fix. (But we assure you: it’s worth the wait!).
Three Dog Winery
Just a quick 15-minute trip from Picton is Three Dog Winery, which was first planted in 2021. It now boasts 10 acres of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc and Baco Noir. By 2024, an additional three acres of Chardonnay and Gamay will be added.
Try one of the winery’s flights. For $20, you can sample everything from Resiling, Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, to Gamay and Pinot Noir. Have premium taste? Then you’ll like the premium flights.
For $22, you’ll get to sample the winery’s Field Blend, Cab Franc, Baco Noir and Bacchus. We advise that you pair your sipper with olives and crackers or try the cheese plate to really enhance your experience.
If you want to do a tasting at Three Dog, you have a couple of options to choose from. For a more casual tasting, you can try four wines for $10 per person in the tasting room or the outdoor seating area. No reservation is required for this.
Private tastings, however, give you a deeper look into the winery’s selection. A personal guide will walk you and five of your friends through a tasting of five mouthwatering wines, and if you’d like, you can add on a tour of the property.
If you love the wines (and of course, you will!), take advantage of the Three Dog’s Wine Club, which sends you a shipment of Three Dog wines four times a year. Each shipment comes with six hand-picked wines and a surprise gift.
A low-volume, high-quality winery, Lighthall Vineyards, which spans more than 62 acres, takes pride in producing its wines in a minimal-interventionist manner. And from the first sip, you can tell the wines are fueled by a passion that’s as hearty as its vines.
“It takes years of tough work to make a wine, from prepping the land, planting the vine, grape growing, winemaking, bottling, selling, marketing, and curating an experience,” explains Chris Thompson, associate winemaker. “You generally don’t put up with all of the struggles those years of process can present if you aren’t driven by passion in what you’re doing. Especially in PEC where grape growing is extra laborious, challenging, and boundary-pushing.”
The beauty of this however, is that when you taste the wines from The County, they are unique, he goes on to explain.
“The wines here reflect the struggle, the soil, and the effort required to create them. There is a distinct sense of place in the glass, that goes beyond a tasty beverage.”
The focus of their winemaking approach? To make the wines taste like PEC, reflect the natural strengths of the grape and vintage, and create an authentic wine with balance and terroir. “Each vintage presents new challenges that require a fresh outlook to each and every one, so it cannot be an exact cookie-cutter approach,” explains Thompson.
Tastings, which take place from 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. daily, give you the opportunity to sample a flight of three wines – country Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as a variety of sparkling wines and aromatic white varietals – paired with its Lighthall Cheese for $10 per person.
Also of note: this winery, which first opened its doors in 2009, is among the first wineries in Canada that make its own artisan cheese on-site. Buying fresh local ewe’s milk from one farmer on a weekly basis from March to October, Lighthall Vineyards crafts a number of cheeses you need to try, including Farmhouse Style Hard, Alpine Style, Bloomy Rind, feta, blue and cream cheese.
The true personification of Prince Edward County hospitality, Karlo Estates has a backstory that’s as beautiful as the wine it creates.
In 2006, the winery’s vineyard was lovingly planted by Richard and Sherry Karlo after they purchased it from a family that had owned the property for 200 years.
The vines for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Frontenac Noir took hold and by 2008, wine production began. By 2010, the doors to this charming winery were open. Sadly, in 2014, Richard passed away, leaving Sherry to carry on their dream.
And she’s done it. Masterfully.
With the help of her partner in life and in business Saxe Brickenden, the vineyard now creates vegan wines in the Old World Style using traditional methods and an artisanal approach to natural winemaking.
Everything is hand-harvested, and the fruit stays on the vine longer to produce a full-body wine with a longer finish you won’t want to end.
“We choose to focus on traditional methods and an artisanal approach to natural winemaking because my late husband was a Wine Judge,” explains Sherry Karlo. “He would taste over 300 wines in one seating during competitions and it came to be the style that he preferred most. We want to show that we can produce world class wines that are on par with the wines you would buy from the old world.”
The winery has earned its place on the “Top Ten Cutting Edge Wines of the World’s List” and on WineAlign’s “Best of the Best Ontario list. Most recently, Karlo Estates was honoured by VineRoute was honoured with VineRoute’s Top 20 Wineries of Ontario listing as well as named on their Top Ten Wines of Ontario list.
“We’ve very proud to have earned 23 gold medal scores in one year and to be named among the top 20 wineries in Canada,” says Karlo. “It speaks to the care and quality of our wines as well as the know how of our winemakers and the care we put into our vineyards and sourcing from the best growers in Ontario.”
You’ll adore the post-and-beam barn that was built in 1805, which has a cosy four-season heated / air-conditioned Speakeasy Wine lounge, making it the absolute perfect backdrop for your tasting.
It also has a ton of special events, so if you’re on the lookout for something extra-special, this place will do the trick.
For groups of 12 or fewer, tastings are $4 for a one-ounce pour. One tasting becomes free for each bottle of wine purchased. During your tasting, enjoy some of Karlo Estates’ plant-based options, which include dairy-free cheeses made from nuts like almonds, cashews or even hemp and plant-based charcuterie.
Tip: Be sure to head over to the winery’s dry-stone bridge, which serves up an incredible backdrop for all your vacay photos.
A family-owned and operated vineyard in Prince Edward County that’s been harvesting since 2006, Sugarbush Vineyards specializes in small lot, artisanal wines made from its estate-grown grapes.
Spread out over an incredible 13 acres, the vineyard – named in honour of the acres of Sugar Maples on the property – has a range of varieties that produce between 2,200 and 2,700 cases on average each year. Here, you’ll find Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Resiling, Gewürztraminer and Viognier expertly bottled by owners Robert and Sally Peck.
“We very much enjoy being outside in our fields and being in our store talking to our customers and sharing our love for what we do,” says Sally. “We enjoy the lifestyle of rural living and raising our family in an environment a little less rushed than city living.”
Tastings are offered in a flight of three for $6, a flight of four for $7, or a flight of five for $8. And you can also enjoy cheese plates for an additional $16.
Rosehall Run Vineyards
One of PEC’s original wineries, Rosehall Run Vineyards is a 150-acre farm that was founded back in 2000.
With a focus on state-of-the-art winemaking, the 7,200 sq. ft. winery facility, tasting facility (which recently expanded) and barrel cellar, invite guests to enjoy Rosehall Run’s critically-acclaimed wines that are balanced, elegant and are a reflection of the terroir and vintage.
Since the winery’s 2005 Pinot Noir, which wine writer David Lawrason identified as one of “Six Wines That Define Canada’s Future,” the estate-grown Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays have garnered consistent local and international attention.
And perhaps it comes down to the winery’s hands-on approach to winemaking that begins in the vineyard.
“Any member of our winemaking team will tell you that harvesting the optimal quality of fruit at harvest is the biggest key to making excellent wine,” explains Dylan Sullivan, owner. “Because of this, careful and diligent vineyard management techniques are some of the most important tasks in our summer growing season.”
Rosehall Run also has a robust French barrel program, housed in its gravity-fed barrel cellar nestled deep into the limestone. Each barrel is hand-selected by Dan himself, who works alongside co-owner and wife, Lynn, to ensure the wines are not overpowered by the oak. Before being bottled, each barrel is selected individually and blended through a series of trials resulting in the final blend.
It’s a true art form.
“Winemaking is unique in that it blends agriculture, chemistry, and art, but there most certainly is an artistic component to making wine, as there is process of interpretation,” explains Sullivan. “Theoretically, any winemaker with some skill and high-quality fruit to work with should be able to produce an enjoyable bottle of wine, but it is the litany of subjective decisions each winemaker makes as they go through the process that helps to clarify the artistic component.”
Decisions across many areas of the process, ranging from ideal date to harvest, length of fermentation, cooperage programs, blending, etc., may have rough suggested guidelines, but for the most part, are subjective decisions made based on individual or team preference and will have to made for each bottling, he explains.
“A trained painter may have all the best materials and a wonderful landscape to paint, but ultimately it is how the painter uses and interprets that makes art,” he says. “Every winemaking team will have varying ideas as to what the exact best techniques are to create the style of the house, vintage and varietal.”
When you’re here, take advantage of the Premium Tasting (winter ‘22/’23), which features a customizable flight of the winery’s award-winning blends in its cosy tasting room for just $20. Walk-ins are more than welcome, but to be safe, we’d recommend pre-booking your tasting ahead of time to secure a spot.
Closson Chase Vineyard
A quality-driven winery that helped put PEC on the map in the first place, Closson Chase Vineyard’s first vines were planted way back in 1999. It was an exercise in exploration. What was the best approach to grape growing and winemaking in The County?
It proved to be a magical mix of centuries-old European traditions and innovative techniques.
These days, the winery – known by many for its iconic purple barn – is highly-regarded for its delectable Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris grapes, quality fruit that creates the purest exploration of place and grown on the more than 30 acres of vineyard.
An early advocate for sustainable practices, Closson Chase crafts fine wines that reflect each individual vintage, capturing the distinct qualities imparted by the soil and climatic variations of the year.
“I want to capture what Mother Nature grows in a bottle,” says head winemaker, Keith Tyers. “My hope is that when someone opens a bottle of Closson Chase wine, they enjoy the uniqueness of the wine and my interpretation of our place.”
The winery is clearly doing something right. In 2019, Closson Chase received recognition and accolades in both the New York Times and Wine Spectator, earning 90 points on the first vintage of Grande Cuvée Chardonnay and Grande Cuvée Pinot Noir. These wines represent the very best of the estate-grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, made from barrels selected and blended by Keith himself.
But each of their wines is as delicious as the last.
Drop in for a tasting and enjoy a flight of three wines for $15. Our favourites? The 2020 South Clos Chardonnay, a single-vineyard chardonnay that has notes of wet limestone, floral blossoms and almost tropical fruit.
The 2020 Vineyard Pinot Noir is just as memorable, however. It’s a blend of the winery’s Churchside and South Clos estate vineyards and features notes of cherry, dried herb and cedar.
“Wine is part of life, it reminds us of the past as we enjoy the present and think about the future,” explains Keith. “I am open to new ideas, new ways of doing things, and ultimately putting the summer in a glass for other wine lovers to enjoy. I hope others take as much pleasure in drinking our wines as we have in making them.”
We know you will.
Picton Wineries with Restaurants
If you’re a wine lover who also enjoys good food, Picton is an excellent destination for you. This picturesque town in the heart of Prince Edward County is known for its exceptional wineries, some of which also offer on-site restaurants.
While many of the wineries mentioned above offer incredible food (it’s definitely worth checking out their websites before making a decision!), here are a couple more for you to consider.
Disclaimer: not all of these are located within Picton, but we promise: they’re worth the drive.
Black Prince Winery
Wine? Pizza? Sign us up. Black Prince Winery, which is centrally located in Picton, has been producing fine, accessible wines in the area for more than 20 years.
Here, enjoy a tasting flight of four wines and unlimited gourmet vinegar tastings for $11.30.
The winery is home to Barrel House Pizza, which takes full advantage of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients and unique flavours, including the use of locally-produced artisan vinegar from Canadian Vinegar Cellars.
There are indoor and outdoor seating options that give you the opportunity to enjoy an authentic, low-key experience where delicious, wood-fired pizzas are the focus.
Try the Americano, an authentic thin-crust pizza that is topped with house-made tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, sauteed mushrooms and sweet peppers.
And if you’re pro-pineapple-on-pizza (don’t knock it ‘till you’ve tried it,) try the Aloha pizza.
The full menu can be viewed here.
Casa Dea Estates Winery
We’ll admit: this winery isn’t located right in Picton. But just enjoy the scenic 29-minute drive!
At Casa Dea, you’ll find La Pergola Restaurant & Patio, which overlooks the winery’s main vineyard.
It has a simple menu, but why complicate things? The deliciously-fresh food pairs well with the stars of the show: the wines.
We suggest you try their pizza. They make the dough and sauce fresh each morning, so you know you’re in for a treat.
A Picton Wineries Tour
Visiting a Prince Edward County winery can be a delightful experience for people who appreciate wine or are curious about the wine-making process. It’s an opportunity to learn about the history and traditions of wine production, taste different varieties of wine and enjoy the scenic beauty of our local vineyards.
While the wineries often offer guided tours, allowing you the chance to explore the vineyards and winery facilities, understand the wine-making process, and gain insight into the various stages of wine production, it can be a task in and of itself deciding where you want to start. With more than 40 to choose from, how does one decide?
We’re here to help.
Our wine tours (we have five to choose from) allow you to “skip the line” and enjoy tastings no matter how busy the wineries and breweries are.
They’re each designed to ensure you visit the area’s most prestigious wineries/breweries, along with some hidden gems. And we handle the driving, so all you need to do is sip and savour to your heart’s content!
Each tour offers door-to-door service and the option to add on a charcuterie board. (Well worth it, we say!).
- The County Wine Essentials Tour: Visit four carefully curated wineries to ensure a well-rounded and balanced taste of what the region offers. You’ll get three to four tastings at each winery you visit and can pause for lunch.
- The County Unveiled Tour: Tour four county locations, which may include wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries. You’ll get tastings at each location and have the option to have a lunch break at a local restaurant or winery.
- The Bachelorette Tour: Kiss off singledom in style. Visit four local wineries, breweries, or cideries, and get three to four tastings at each location. You can even stop somewhere for lunch if the bride-to-be has a hankering for some food.
- The County Trio Tour: A visit to three wineries, with three to four tastings at each location. Door-to-door service means you can get picked up and dropped off wherever you’d like. Add a lunch stop if you’d like.
- The County VIP Tour: Feeling fancy? We knew you might be. Our County VIP Tour gets you a tasting experience at four of The County’s wineries, with one standard stop (a basic tasting experience), and three Premium Stops (this gives you an in-depth tasting/sample experience and could include production facility and grounds tour, speciality tastings, demonstrations and more.)
It’s Time to Explore the Flavours and Scenery of Ontario’s Charming Wine Region
As Robert Louis Stevenson once said, “Wine is bottled poetry.” And much like words, a good glass of it can make you laugh, cry and see right into the heart of things.
Whether you’re seeking a romantic getaway, a fun outing with friends, or just a relaxing day trip, a visit to a winery in Prince Edward County is a must-do experience. We can’t wait for you to experience it first-hand.
ONE FINAL TIP: To get a full list of all the amazing wineries you can visit in Prince Edward County, check out PEC Wine’s website, which has a winery directory and an interactive map to plan your wine tour.