Gourmet Travel - Prince Edward County Ontario Wine in Canada - Southern Ontario Wine Tour

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Prince Edward County Ontario Wineries in Canada - Southern Ontario Gourmet Travel
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Canadian Wine - Prince Edward County Ontario Wine

The County - Southern Ontario Wine and Food Culture Comes of Age

by Wade Rowland - Part 1

Country fields - Prince Edward County Ontario Canada
Prince Edward County is a pastoral setting
Somewhere in your mind you already have a picture of Prince Edward County in Southern Ontario. Miles of cedar rail fences enclosing fields of corn and wheat, or grazing cattle. Winding roads that crest gentle hills to disclose panoramic views of Lake Ontario, or one of a dozen bays and inlets that cut deep into the peninsula. The sand dunes and beaches of the Sandbanks Provincial Park - home of the largest freshwater sand dune system in North America. Picturesque farm houses and weathered barns built a hundred and fifty years or more ago. Sugar bushes and apple orchards. łThe County,˛ as it's known to locals, is everyone's idea of an idyllic pastoral setting.

Charming villages - Wellington, Bloomfield and Picton - that dot the peninsula at buggy-ride distance from one another were built by the original settlers, who were mostly refugees fleeing the American Revolutionary War to take up generous land grants north of the border, where the Union Jack still flew. They're know here as United Empire Loyalists, and they were a welcome infusion of know-how, grit and wealth into the sparsely-populated British colony known as Upper Canada.

The County and its people have had their ups and downs over the last three hundred years, but perhaps the most damaging blows were struck in the 1960's when big agribusiness moved in an in the name of efficiency and the almighty dollar all but wiped out a thriving and diversified artisan-based agricultural industry. Kraft elbowed out local cheese makers; Aylmer's did the same to local canners.

But today, with the help of the federally-funded Agricultural Adaptation Council, a renaissance is underway in this historic corner of Ontario just two hours east of Toronto. Grape growing has come to Prince Edward County, and with it wineries and a burgeoning food culture based on locally-grown meat, poultry and produce. (More accurately, grape-growing has returned ‹ we're told a County vintner won a prize at the 1860 Chicago World Fair, as did local hops and barley growers.)

Fine restaurants are springing up all over the peninsula. It's all reminiscent of what happened in that other Ontario wine district, Niagara, half a century ago. But here, everything benefits from the steep learning curve endured by the early wine industry at the southern end of Lake Ontario, where they're now regularly winning international awards.

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Gourmet Travel - Prince Edward County Ontario Wine in Canada - Southern Ontario Wine Tour

Gourmet Travel in Ontario Canada: Prince Edward County Ontario Wine Tours, Southern Ontario Wine Travel Destinations, Sandbanks Provincial Park, Ontario Wine Tour Packages, Ontario Gourmet Destinations, Wellington, Bloomfield and Picton Ontario


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