In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday I thought I would write a close to home post. Essex County is where I was born and raised and is a rural area made up of several little towns, located approximately a half hour away from Windsor, Ontario (which borders Detroit, Michigan).
Probably because I’m not a drinker, it came as quite a surprise to me while doing a school project, how much the area’s wine industry has grown and developed over the past 10 or so years. I enjoyed checking out many of the wineries, shops, restaurants and historical sites while doing my research, and now I would love to share some ideas for a short road trip if you’re ever in the area. Note: there are several more wineries in the area that are fabulous that I am not covering, here is just a small glimpse of what to expect:
We started on our adventure just outside of Amherstburg, which is a great little town with a lot of history. Here you will find Fort Malden which played a very significant role in the War of 1812. The fort is very much preserved and tours and reenactments happen regularly, not something that takes a lot of time but definitely worth a stop. Beautiful waterfront park and great ice cream and frozen yogurt shops are also worth a mention.
Heading southeast and approx. 10-15 minutes outside of Amherstburg, we came to our first winery – Sprucewood Shores. This rustic establishment gets our vote for best winery venue for a celebration. A popular place for weddings and parties, and also has an on site retail store.
Next stop, Viewpointe Estate Winery. This one is our top choice for location/grounds, the views of Lake Erie are amazing!
Oxley Estate Winery – this winery is right on the outskirts of Harrow and as well as having an onsite retail shop, they offer an on site restaurant which gets great reviews.
After your stop at Oxley, just a short way up the highway if you make a left turn onto Iler Rd. you will come to Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards (also in Harrow). Again, another great restaurant and retail shop on site.
If all that wine tasting has put you in the mood to shop, a great shopping stop in Harrow is Priscilla’s Presents.
Keep going, and last but not least you will come to Kingsville, a charming little town full of unique shops and restaurants. If you’re not yet “wined out” make a stop at the Pelee Island Winery. Tours, reception space, and retail space all can be found here.
Like I said earlier, I am no wine expert (actually quite the opposite), so I can’t review and recommend the wines that each of these wineries offer, however it sure sounds like fun to tour and taste. There are several more wineries to choose from when visiting the area, but hopefully this will get you started. *** I also cannot state enough – if wine tasting is something you are going to do, please be responsible and have a designated driver or book an actual tour that does the driving for you – DO NOT DRINK & DRIVE!
All of that wine tasting is bound to make you hungry so here are a few of our favourite Kingsville eateries:
Jack’s Gastropub has something for everyone
Annabelle’s Tea Room, a little more upscale, open for tea and lunch
O’Ryan’s is one of our regular stops for fresh perch and fresh cut fries. It’s a food truck without wheels and is open seasonally (May-Sept.). It’s located right at the dock, so you’re not going to get your fish any more fresh!