After you’ve checked out the wineries, I highly recommend taking my day-long circular tour of the south eastern portion of the County – the most scenic area of the region. It includes Waupoos Cider, the stunning Fifth Town Cheese, Lake on the Mountain, the beautiful hollyhocks of Waupoos, a pub, Vicki’s famous veggie stand and the stylish Mad Dog gallery. Just in case you haven’t been, Long Dog winery is enroute. Pack a picnic or not – there are lots of refreshment stops. On a sunny day, this outing is as good as it gets.
Start in Picton and get directions to BIRDHOUSE CITY, which has over 100 birdhouses, most of them reproductions of historic buildings and other recognizable structures. Very crazy and folk arty. A must-see. Located at Macaulay Mountain Conservation area, just east of Picton.
Take the Glenora Ferry Road (Hwy. 33) and find LAKE ON THE MOUNTAIN RESORT and RESTAURANT, a beautiful old stone building with a shaded patio. On a summer day this could be Provence. Decent food and super wine values. Check out the view across the road, and the lake on the mountain! www.lakeonthemountain.ca
Continue east on Hwy. 7 and make a right at Bongards Crossroad and look for the COUNTY CIDER CO. (see winery tour info). Head east again on Hwy. 8 till you reach FIFTH TOWN ARTISAN CHEESE, a gorgeous, state-of-the-art, eco-friendly dairy crafting fine goat and sheep milk cheeses. So much to enjoy here – the landscaping, the art, the architecture and of course, the cheese. Hats off to Petra Cooper and crew. www.fifthtown.ca
Head back along Hwy. 8, taking time to enjoy the world’s best hollyhocksin July and August, farm stands, blueberry and sunflower fields, and lake vistas. Stop for a beer or a meal: DUKE OF MARYSBURG PUB. Not great curb appeal but can be fun. Decent food and drink, indoors or on a screened patio. If he’s in the mood, owner Vas may play a little blues for you. I love the middle-of-nowhere feeling of this place.
Head west again (joining Hwy. 13) and follow directions to the Black River Cheese. Just before you reach it, you’ll see signs for VICKI’S VEGGIES, on Morrison Point Road, www.vickisveggies.com – the world’s most romantic farm stand. It’s wild, beautiful and alive – all organic and mouth-watering. Vicki Emlaw is an amazing combination of farmer, promoter and artist. She and her partner Tim Noxon, have been an inspiration to many in the County, and visiting their place always makes me feel good. On Labour Day weekend, Vicki displays and sells over 125 varieties of heirloom tomatoes at her annual Tomato Festival. (Also check out the heirloom seed sale in May.)
Follow signs on Hwy. 13 for LONG DOG WINERY (see winery info) and after that stop, go back to County Rd. 10 and head for Milford. THE MILFORD BISTRO is a charming little restaurant offering lunch and dinner. Lots of local wines and produce. www.milfordbistro.com
Continue on County Rd. 10 to Cherry Valley. On your right you’ll see the huge CHERRYVALE ORGANIC FARM which has a roadside stand on weekends. Turn right at the intersection in Cherry Valley, and stop at the BALD GALLERY, showcasing classic black and white photography. After Cherry Valley, turn left on Hwy. 11 and find MAD DOG GALLERY – a big gallery space in a renovated, eco-friendly barn – featuring some of the best works by County artists. Lovely spot with a special feeling. www.pec.on.ca/artists/maddog.htm
Head back towards Picton but detour to THE WARING HOUSE for a pint. About half a mile south of it on County Road 1 you’ll find ED & SANDY TAYLOR’S organic farm – which is especially wonderful in the fall when pumpkins and squashes are on display. Crash at the Waring House, or head back to your room in the County before going out for dinner – with lots of local wine, of course!