July 17, 2011
Tasting the County
Designated as an official wine appelation in 2007, the County is now home to 37 wineries. It remains a rustic and peaceful region. The County is to Sonoma Valley as the Niagara is to Napa Valley. Of course, weekends in the summer are a little more crowded in the County but nothing like the hordes that hit the Niagara wine region.
The County has become a foodie destination as well, thanks to a locovore and slow food movements in its restaurants and eateries, not to mention the relocation of some celebrated Toronto chefs.
We feel so blessed to have such a vibrant and growing wine region within an hour's drive of Kingston. The County is primarily planted with vinifera varietals such as Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Riesling, with smaller amounts of Zweigelt, Gewürztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Muscat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Merlot. You will also find hybrids like baco noir, and vidal.
Yesterday we took in some of the best of the County, including wine tastings at By Chadsey's Cairns, Sandbanks, and, our favourite, Closson Chase. We also enjoyed tastings and then an incredible gourmet pizza at Norman Hardie Winery. We purchased a 2010 Dunes Vidal Reisling from Sandbanks for everyday sipping and a coveted 2008 K.J. Watson Chardonnay from Closson Chase for a special occasion.
We then headed to the eastern section of the peninsula to enjoy a pint of cider at the County Cider Company, which surely has the best views in the entire county! They have a lovely outdoor seating area with views of a vineyard that slopes downward to reveal a stunning vista of Lake Ontario. We then make the quick trip over to the Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company, which makes cheese from locally sourced goat and sheep milk. They are a truly environmentally-conscious business, with a Platinum LEED certified facility and a commitment to using only fresh local milk and ingredients. We purchased a soft-ripened goat cheese called Operetta, made in the style of France's Crottin de Chavignol.