Wine Geek’s Field Trip to Prince Edward County

My wife and I booked a stay at the The Royal Hotel to explore some of our favourite wineries in Prince Edward County. The Royal is a wonderful boutique hotel on Main Street, Picton, which was recently extensively renovated and has been open since January 2021. If you enjoy travel and visiting interesting places, we would highly recommend a stay at The Royal.

Understated yet modern, the lobby is classy and very inviting. Following check-in at the front desk, we were served a local Brut from Hinterland. This crisp array of bubbles was a welcome start to our stay. Our room was very comfortable and well stocked with welcome and quite delicious in-house made cookies.

Arriving early, we took great pleasure in a pot of tea and a sandwich in the Counter Bar on the main floor adjacent to the lobby overlooking Main Street. Baked goods are all prepared in-house daily and offer a delightful selection. I must say the service was first rate and the food is excellent! After munchies, my priority was to visit the Restaurant to check out the wine list for dinner. I was pleased to find it included many international and local offerings. For our stay I specifically wanted to explore local wines. At the time of printing the Royal’s list had over forty-two County wines. As their sommelier declared, “we have the largest list of County wines in the world!”

For dinner, while feasting on fresh P.E.I. oysters, we selected a sparkling wine from Closson Chase, a Chardonnay, Charmat Method. This wine is a Blanc de Blanc with lots of active mousse and a wonderful acidity common to cool climate wines and a perfect match for oysters. Charmat Method refers to what the French identify as a Traditional Method Brut. For the main course my wife ordered duck confit and I chose the house made burger accompanied by a bottle of Lighthall Cabernet Franc. Ontario makes wonderful Cabernet Franc and Lighthall is no exception. Dark ruby in colour, exhibiting wonderful balance, and the delicious essence of blue and black fruit is the core of this wine.


The Royal’s kitchen sources ingredients from specific local farmers. Everything is made in the lower level kitchen, or the primary kitchen which is open to the dining room, and staff can be seen working away under the direction of Executive Chef Albert Ponzo. The menu, inspired by Ponzo’s Sardinian heritage, features a delightful array of Italian dishes, offering a diverse selection of appetizers, pasta dishes, pizzas and main course options that include meat, fish, and vegetarian. A small and delicious dessert menu is also offered with many digestifs and a wide selection of teas and coffees.

The next morning, after my wife enjoyed Gravlax on fresh sourdough, and I, a granola parfait and more delicious coffees, we were then on the road to visit our two favourite PEC wineries. Our first stop was Lighthall. We have enjoyed Lighthall wines for many years especially their Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and their sparkling wine, Culmination. This winery also offers a vast selection of house made cheeses. Taylor, the manager explained the cheese offerings suggesting flavours and pairings. Soon a variety of wines and cheeses were on their way home with us. Our second visit was to Closson Chase. Since its inception I have been a fan of this winery. Sarah was on duty at the tasting bar, greeting us with her contagious enthusiasm. A number of Closson Chase Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines were purchased for future enjoyment. These are well made wines expressing the essence of Prince Edward County terroir.

I highly recommend a visit to Prince Edward County, The Royal, and the wineries of your choice. The two wineries I selected for our visit have been favourites for some time. I highly recommend local wines and building relationships with those wineries. As an aside, if you spend twenty dollars on an international wine, thirty five cents goes back into our domestic economy. Conversely, if you spend that twenty dollars on an Ontario wine, approximately thirteen dollars goes into our domestic economy. That’s well worth pondering over. Sante and let’s all make a point of trying a little more Ontario made wine.


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