East Lake is rough and choppy this morning,
pulling low grey clouds across its early summer shores. So too are our heads from a rowdy, raucous, wine-filled Friday night as day two of our weekend in Prince Edward County begins. Six friends and former Toronto neighbours have gathered at a Cherry Valley cottage for a Good Friends and Good Wine weekend in The County to reunite, reminisce, and share some laughs over the incredible wine, food and friendship bounty The County has to offer. We linger over a late breakfast of fresh fruit, yogurt and savoury scones and lots of hot, head-remedying coffee before we trundle ourselves into our van for our day of wine tasting. In an unexpected gesture of gallantry, Frank has graciously offered his DD services to the group this morning. We all quickly agree.
Hard Liquor First Thing
The 66 Gilead Distillery welcomes us with a roaring Rooster, calling for his 'girls' and a hearty Good Morning from co-owner Sophia Pantazi. We step up and begin the tasting with some White Dragon Shōchū , some Canadian Pine Vodka and finally some County-Branded Loyalist Gin . The bottles provide a crisp, bright and embracing hard liquor start to our morning and we all snap up several bottles for our Liquor cabinets. The history of the house and land is compelling. A Hop Farm originally, the ornate Second Empire, mansard roofed house was built in 1874 by wealthy Hops grower, Bert Cooper and stands today as a testament to the success and wealth of the Barley industry and The County. Co-owner Peter Stroz gives us a brief history of the beautiful Cooper-Norton house and a quick primer on the growing of hops before moving onto the original drying barns situated next door that remain fully intact, its vented drying floors and brick ovens offering a creaking, compelling testament to The County's Barley Days. Peter points out the individual signatures of some of the migrant and hired workers, including that of Bert Cooper himself, etched and burned into the 130 year old walls.
We cross the lawn and wander into the property's second ancient barn and Marla and Pete Bradford's rustic Carriage House Cooperage and the Barrel Cellar to taste some Aged Red Wine Vinegar. We sip pinot, choa and other blended vinegar's and and enjoy Marla's neighbourly and familiar exchange on all thing wine vinegar. Of course we leave with a choa and pinot vinegar.
Onto Rosehall Run
J.J. Syer welcomes us with a knowledgeable and award-winning smile as she gives us a tour of owner/viticulturist and winemaker Dan and Lynn Sullivan's Rosehall Run Vineyard. 'Winemaking done in the vineyard' is Dan's philosophy. He is an extremely, personal hands-on, jack of all trades renaissance kinda guy who works proactively at sustainable farming and is involved in pretty much all aspects of his business: the picking, leaf pulling, disease management, driving the bottling truck, shipping, tasting and marketing his labours of love. Dan's obvious passion shows in every glass of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that Rosehall Run produces and as J.J. quips '..and he has made all his mistakes in the last 15 years with his previous chemist career, when he started making SZ White in his basement!' Rosehall Run's proximity to Lake Ontario and the remarkable Hillier clay, shale, limestone and highly mineral soil base add to the entire Terroir make-up of Rosehall Run. His Chardonnay juice is poured directly into Oak, integrating and fermenting in some of these uniquely Canadian Oak Barrels. 'They grow up together' says Sullivan. And keeping with Dans's 'Winemaking done in the vineyard' philosophy, Marta and Peter from The Carriage House Cooperage are providing local Rosehall Run Oak Barrels directly from an ancient oak tree farmed from the back forty of The Rosehall Run estate, continuing Sullivan's full circle, keep it in the family approach to the art.
While you are in the tasting shop, take away locally sourced provisions at the Rosehall Run supported Greer Road Grocer, situated just behind the main tasting room that offers a selection of the best products from local farmers, artisans and purveyors from The County and surrounding area offering seasonal prepared foods including breads, cheeses, charcuterie, dips, preserves and baked goods. Yum!
At the Corner of Closson and Chase
We continue onto Closson Chase to focus on some Chardonnay tasting that one member of our tour swears that Vigneron and Winemaker Deborah Paskus 'produces the best Canadian Chardonnay anywhere!' We arrive to a very busy and crowded tasting room. Eager tasters are lining up to sample some of the Pinot and South Close Chardonnay on offer. The experience is somewhat rushed and impersonal but our single taster is happy with the full mouth, mineral results and walks away glowing and enthusiastic with several purchases of South Clos Chardonnay in his happy possession.
We return to Cherry Valley to a grey and cloudy cocktail hour but that entices us to open a bottle of the recently acquired Rosehall Run's Chardonnay. Soon everyone is back in full chat, wine tasting and more catching and chatting up after our afternoon wine and liquor tastings and purchases.
East Lake's still-choppy west wind a howling reminder of summer friends, wonderful wine, and good weekends.
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Prince Edward County well, my friends!
Planning a Visit?
66 Gilead Distillery
T. 613. 393.1890 |F. 613.393.1975 E.firstname.lastname@example.org 66 Gilead Rd., Bloomfield, ON K0K 1G0
The Carriage House Cooperage and Barrel Cellar
46 Gilead Road, Bloomfield, ON K0K 1G0
(next to the 66Distillery) Tel: 613 . 243 . 3762
1243 Greer Road, RR#1, Wellington ON, K0K 3L0
613 399 1183
Toll Free: 1 888 399 1183
629 Closson Road,
Hillier, Ontario K0K 2J0