Last September we took an eight hour trip to Prince Edward Island for a friend’s wedding. One thing we learned quite quickly in our travel adventures was to always keep our eyes open for road signs. We have discovered some great things from the many history, winery, and restaurant signs found along the highway.
And that’s exactly what we were doing as we drove off of the ferry that day, which is how we found out that Prince Edward Island has a wine industry. Call us crazy, but we really didn’t realize before we saw the little telltale grapes symbol. Drew was driving and immediately set a course to see where the signage would lead us while I took to my phone to research island wineries.
We really didn’t have time to go on a full winery and distillery tour of Prince Edward Island but the more we researched the more we felt compelled to visit every single one.
Rossignol Estate Winery (rossignolwinery.com)
The signs led us to Rossignol, a grape and fruit winery in Murray River, just 9 km from the boat. The property was beautiful and the tasting room was packed with people tasting and purchasing wines. Samples were a dollar apiece, and because we were driving we only picked out a few to share (and put the spit bucket to good use).
We picked mostly fruit wines as recommended by the staff, plus one grape wine (a L’Acadie Blanc). I have to be really upfront, neither Drew nor I favour fruit wines, and I can’t say that Rossignol was the exception to that rule. The few we selected just weren’t our style so I can’t really speak to it. What I can tell you was that there were lots of people in the shop who did seem to like it, and lots of people purchasing bottles.
RR#4 Murray River, PEI
Season: May 1 – October 30
Monday – Saturday: 10:00 – 5:00
Sunday: 1:00 – 5:00
Newman Estate Winery (newmanestatewinery.com)
Now that our taste for Prince Edward Island wine was whetted, it was full speed ahead to Newman Estate Winery, PEI’s newest winery. Mike Newman, the owner, has a young vineyard with grapes still taking time to root so for the time being he is supplementing his grapes with ones from Ontario to make his wines. They sell two blends, a Chardonnay/Seyval Blanc blend and a Cabernet Sauvignon/Lucie Kuhlmann blend, both very drinkable table wines. They are already being served at a number of restaurants province-wide. We left with a bottle of the white and are looking forward to revisiting once Newman’s local grapes have matured.
Newman Estate Winery
2404 Gladstone Rd
Murray River, PE
Monday – Saturday: 11:00-5:00
We were running short on time so we started to head towards Lakeside where the wedding was to take place. We hit two distilleries along the way, skipped the samples but purchased a bottle of PEI Shine to take home. We made it to the wedding with less than a minute to spare.
Matos Winery (matoswinery.com)
We didn’t get to visit the Island’s third and final winery so we made a point of visiting Matos when we revisited this June. Matos is an award winning winery and distillery in St. Catherines, PEI. Owners Jaime and Heather Matos moved to the Island from Ontario after 20 years running a successful U-Brew. The pair had always dreamed of running a winery, and a few years ago they finally made the leap, moving to PEI in search of grapes and a quieter life.
They have 16,000 vines on their 10 acre property, all viniferous grapes brought in from France, which they use in a small but mighty line of wines and liquers that have been inspired by Italian and Portuguese products.
Frequent readers and Twitter followers may know that we don’t normally like Chardonnay, but we were both surprised by how much we liked the Matos Chardonnay. Heather explained that they get that reaction a lot, likely because their version is un-oaked. We tried the whole line.
My favourite was the strawberry chardonnay. This is no classic fruit wine, it is a light white wine that has been infused with strawberry resulting in a light, sweet refreshing summer drink. We were also both impressed with the liquers. They make three, one inspired by grappa, one a sweet licorice, and one a cordial. All were delicious but if we had to pick one it would be the Anisette, which not only had the best taste, but just look at the bottle!
3156 West River Road
St. Catherines PE
Season: June – December
June – September: Monday to Saturday 10:00-5:00 and Sunday 1:00-5:00
October – December: Saturday 10:00-5:00 and Sunday 1:00-5:00
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