Barn Quilts + Wineries: an artful meander through wine country
by Sharon Harrison
The barn quilt phenomenon in Prince Edward County, now approaching its third year, continues to grow with its popularity showing no signs of waning. Pat Dubyk, Coordinator of the Prince Edward County Barn Quilt Trail (PECBQT), along with husband and barn quilt installer Ron, brought the idea to the County in late 2013, with the first installations coming in April 2014. County residents, farmers, winery and business owners alike have wholeheartedly embraced the idea which now sees 150-plus barn quilts spread across a wide pastoral island community. Pat and Ron are especially proud the Prince Edward County Barn Quilt Trail project has recently been nominated for the 2016 Quinte Business Achievement Award for Non-Profit groups.
The PECBQT extends mainly along the Highway 33 corridor with clusters of barn quilts to be found in Wellington, Bloomfield and Picton. They appear along many of the back roads too, where barn quilts are prominently displayed, but where others are intentionally, and perhaps playfully, hidden just off the beaten track. Maps are available to helpfully guide you, or simply discover the barn quilts at will, where a random sighting shows itself around the next bend or in the next village and where locating them becomes a little like a treasure hunt.
Barn quilts come in every colour of the rainbow where each is individually personalized, and yet most follow a traditional fabric quilting pattern. To keep designs authentic, variations are made to traditional patterns, but it is the diverse blend of colours, the orientation and unusual combination of geometric shapes and patterns that ensure the barn quilts remain bespoke.
Of the 50 or so wineries and vineyards nestled throughout the gently undulating rural County landscape, seven have joined the trail, for a total of 13 panels on display between them. The addition of a large eight-foot square polygon panel often enhances an already handsome historic barn or simply softens the harsh lines of a modern structure. Overlooking seemingly endless rows of grapevines, each panel stands as a sentinel to the vines; a protector of the land, each distinctive, bold and sui generis.
The Mariner’s Compass is one of a handful of barn quilts clustered in the heart of Hillier wine country. Proudly located at the family owned and operated Lacey Estates Winery, and sitting among vines of riesling, Baco noir and gewürztraminer, contrasting shades of purples and blues, reds and greens, yellows and orange give the vibrant star a three-dimensional quality. As a hand quilter as well as past president of the Prince Edward County Quilters’ Guild, the Mariner’s Compass was Mollie Lacey’s favourite block pattern and was an obvious choice for the family barn quilt.
Rosehall Run came on board with a unique barn quilt design representing the trillium. As with many local families, quilting was a popular pastime which saw quilts passed down through families. The Four Trilliums was chosen in part because the white trillium is Ontario’s official flower and also the symbol used to represent the Grape Growers of Ontario—and fittingly, a large patch of trilliums grows on the forest floor of the 150-acre farm. Perhaps most significantly, the four trilliums within the design represent the four family members and owners of Rosehall Run. The panel, mounted on the side of the turn-of-the-century farmhouse, overlooks 25 acres of grapevines.
To celebrate their 15th anniversary, family-owned Sandbanks Estate Winery added another barn quilt to their collection. They now boast six uniquely colourful barn quilts, the most of any business on the trail. Uniquely identifying the winery’s prime location along the historic Loyalist Parkway, the designs form part of the winery’s corporate identity. Artist Rita Thivierge worked the designs and colour combinations where eye-catching shades of orange and yellow, green, blue and purple ensure a visual treat. The strong vibrant colours representing the sun and the wind, the sky and the lake also capture the terroir.
The view of the old barns atop the subtle hilltop gently comes into view. While not a winery and not open to the public, Cold Creek Vineyards proudly displays Irish Eyes on the side of the big old dairy barn which is easily viewed from the road. History lives here on this important site where heritage in preserved in the form of a pair of century-old, restored hip-roofed barns: a large dairy barn and a smaller pig barn both circa 1890s. Owner and viticulturist, Chris Braney, chose the shamrock design for the barn quilt panel to connect with his Irish heritage. The simple green and white colours seem a natural fit for the barn’s impressive exterior, complementing and reflecting the surrounding green hills and vines.
Situated on the outskirts of Picton, Rooks and Grapes can be found at Black Prince Winery. It is one of the oldest County wineries and one of the first to adopt a barn quilt. The design incorporates a series of squares and triangles with a historic and modern twist: the black squares denote the winery’s namesake, Black Prince Edward, while the gold squares represent both the golden fields of agriculture and royalty (Black Prince Edward was the son of King Edward III). The rooks represent the castle, the traditional home of a prince, with the grapevine in the middle of the design a salute to Prince Edward County as a wine growing region and to the winery’s location in the centre of the County.
Apple representations feature prominently on the PECBQT, including at County Cider Company which features a novel take on an apple tree. Maw’s Lakeview Orchard also adopted the apple theme with two barn quilt panels depicting stylized apples. It was an obvious choice for the apple farmers with the designs being “picked” as a family with a playful take on the fruit they have grown since 2004.
Take a self-guided tour, wander upon a winery or visit a vineyard, admire the barn quilts, drink in the vista or share in some vino (remembering to select a designated driver) as you discover and enjoy the County’s largest outdoor, all-season, rural art gallery.
Wineries and vineyards wishing to join the trail may contact Pat Dubyk at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 613-813-1972.