County Sips: A Wine Tour to Savour

By Emily Coppella

If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind experience that is both laidback and energetic, book a guided winery tour through Prince Edward County with County Sips.

You’ll treat yourself to an incredible array of fresh flavours with a powerful sense of place as you explore the gorgeous, detached peninsula with your tour guide and sommelier, Ian Nicholls. Ian has both a wealth of knowledge and an abundance of energy that will make your weekend getaway or daytrip with friends more than memorable.

County Sips offers a mindfully curated tour of four Prince Edward County wineries, but it’s also an experience that’s tailored to you. If you have specific needs or unique interests, let Ian know so that he can customize your day. Packages include tastings at four wineries (a craft brewery, cider house or distillery can also be included), lunch, and transportation to and from Kingston. Tours run Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday, and they each explore different wineries so that you can return to County Sips again for an entirely new experience. While individual tour packages start at $185 per person, Tourism Kingston and County Sips have partnered to offer sip and stay packages for a stay in Kingston and a wine tour. Those who book will also receive a $100 VISA gift card and other add-ons based on the hotel package. Enjoy the ease of having your accommodation and experience in one convenient booking

This was the moment I learned how to properly swirl, sniff, and sip wine at Traynor Family Vineyard. Haberdasher Vermouth was one of my favourite wines I tried – even though I’ve never loved sweet, red wine. This wine had a combination of 20 different herbs and flowers grown organically on the property.

Pack your bags for a full day of exploring and meet at your pick-up point at 9:00 am. You’ll spend approximately 9 hours on tour as Ian takes you along Loyalist Highway with its spectacular waterfront views, perhaps onto Glenora Ferry, and around the County. Ian’s familiarity with the County and over 25 years of experience in the Kingston hospitality industry makes for great conversation. He has collaborated with a plethora of restaurants to create stellar wine lists and has been a judge for national wine championships. So, while you might get lost in the dreamy views, Ian’s understanding of the local area – even beyond winemaking – is sure to entertain you the entire way.

After a comfortable drive into the Northeast tip of Prince Edward County you’ll coast along charming roads. Most notable about County Sips is how flexible the tour is as Ian accommodates personal interests. If you point out an attractive house, he might just take you on a welcome detour through Prinyers Cove to show you even more charming houses and their million-dollar waterfront views. If there’s time to spare, prepare for other unexpected surprises, like a stop at Waupoos Tarts – the county’s best butter tarts – or a local cheese shop.

A stunning view at Cape Vineyards. This is their Gypsy Lola wine, a sparkling wine made in the charmat method that’s fruity and upbeat!

While the vineyards you visit will differ based on what day you choose for your wine tour and any customizations you make, County Sips ensures you experience not only a variety of flavours but also atmospheres. Some wineries are more private, with a more rustic feel boasting pigs, goats, and chickens, and others are a little bigger, with a soundtrack of catchy music and lively chatter.

After an initial stop at a winery, you’ll enjoy lunch at one of several gems in the County. Whether you’re having wood fired pizza, a picnic lunch from Pan Chancho at a winery, or eating family-style at The Waupoos Market Pub, you should expect the food to be just as good as what you’re drinking.

While treating yourself to a day of handcrafted, award-winning wines, you might taste the greatest version of your “go-to” wine profile or be pleasantly surprised by a new one you thought you would never like. Ian will also recommend wines for you if you’re stumped about what to order at a tasting. His discernment is incredible – after considering your reaction to a single tasting at one winery, he can work with your preferences to ensure the next tasting is tailored to your tastebuds. There’s something special about listening to the wine-making process and experiencing the results firsthand too.

A tasting of sparkling wine at Hinterland Wine. Their Les Etoiles 2016 – the white wine in the photo – is made from softly pressed grapes from their estate grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. With aromatics of pome fruit, citrus, and brioche, this dry wine “simultaneously manages to exude power and grace.”

In between winery stops, Ian will point out boutique hotels, quaint Airbnbs, and must-see stores and restaurants in downtown Picton. You’ll understand the unique wine-growing environment or “terroir” that contributes to PEC-produced wine and how the designs of various vineyards compare to each other. In this way, your wine tour doesn’t start and stop at each winery. County Sips is an all-encompassing and accommodating tour across one of the most gorgeous locations in Ontario.

Touring with County Sips is both comfortable and surprising. While the county’s sparkling water, lush green spaces, and fantastic wine might be enough to please you, having Ian as your guide will allow you to truly sip back and relax, appreciate how the wine got to your glass, and tempt you to buy a bottle – or two. A day in the County is a perfect complement to your visit to Kingston, and the comfortable yet surprising County Sips tour is the ideal way to experience it.