A Fall Tour of EPIC Wine Country

Mary Steffes | November 2, 2015

My morning started with a travel mug of coffee and a drive south with a few friends towards County Road 20 for breakfast. I arrived at Ure’s Country Kitchen a little apprehensive of the old fashioned gas pumps out front, but the signs assured me they had “great food”.

Not one to shy away from the next possible “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” location, I went in. Immediately I was met with cheerful staff and a mug full of coffee. Ure’s not only feels like, but is, your old fashioned locals-only diner. Not knowing what I felt like eating and knowing I had a day of wine tasting ahead, I ordered up a side of berry pancakes along with a cheese and sausage skillet. Everything was delicious, especially the potatoes or “homefries” as they’re listed. Overly stuffed and pleasantly surprised, we grabbed bottled water from his convenience store and set out for wine country.

Our first stop on historic County Road 50 was Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery. Wine tastings were only $2 for a sample of four wines or free if you buy a bottle. We had a variety of samples, including the popular Lady in Red. I enjoy Sprucewood wines immensely, so I purchased a bottle of the rosé for my own collection. I noticed they had a mulled wine – not something that I have seen at other wineries – and had to try it. It was a sweetly spiced mulled wine that would be great for cold nights in front of a fireplace.

The next winery on route was Colchester Ridge Estate Winery or CREW for short. They were in full-swing of grape harvesting and I was there to catch some of the action. Conveniently The Cheese Bar was there having a pop-up shop, so I was able to pair my wine with some tasty cheese. Bernie, who co-owns the winery with his wife, told everyone present the beautiful story behind the Meritage and Posh Cuvée painted wine bottle labels – a story that I recommend everyone go to CREW and request to hear for themselves!

North 42 Degrees Estate Winery was a short jog up the street and we were soon sampling some of their wines. As a bonus, North 42 has their Serenity Lavender Farm shop next door for wine tasters to peruse. From lavender sachets to soap and lavender themed gifts, the shop seemed to have everything lavender.

Trying to stay on pace and not fall behind on our EPIC wine route, our designated driver shuttled us to our next stop, Viewpoint Winery. This winery has a beautiful view of the water – picturesque in every way possible. Stopping to have a quick bite to eat before sampling more wines, I found it was very busy at 1PM on a Sunday. Many people were walking the grounds outside with their dogs, taking advantage of the warm sunny weather. For my snack, I ordered a trio of dips that came with grapes and breads. While waiting for my food to arrive, I became envious of the larger lunch orders that went past my table and have vowed to come back to sit and enjoy this beautiful space longer.

Oxley Estate Winery was next, and I was excited to visit it for the first time. This beautiful building seems to have it all. Upon arrival, I couldn’t take my eyes away from the beautiful fall garden and then the building itself. This stop offers a scenic outdoor patio which was where everyone seemed to be. I can’t blame them, it was the perfect day for it. Indoors, I enjoyed several of the wines at Oxley, including the Cabernet Franc and the Reisling.

At the end of our wine route we stopped at John R. Park Homestead to enjoy some time outside. The house looked beautiful with fall colours all around as we walked from building to building learning about the historical blacksmith shop, smoke shop, barn and garden. The garden was even growing some butternut squash, much to my surprise. We ended the visit with a walk along the Lake Erie boardwalk. The area also has a nature trail through the treed area that takes you to the water, for those that are interested in adventuring.

After a brief drive past Cooper’s Hawk Winery and down County Road 20, Cindy’s Home & Garden shop was easy to find. With two stores of inventory, you could find many useful kitchen items, food goods, wall paintings, and even jewelry. We spent a lot of time browsing and buying items – some for ourselves and some as gifts. It’s really hard to resist not finding something you need or want at Cindy’s. And while you’re perusing or if you’re in need of a break, you can order a hot drink or an ice cream and enjoy it at one of her tables.

Heading back the way we came, we arrived at Mettawas Station. I had heard they had great Italian food and I was excited. We hadn’t had a solid meal since breakfast so feasting on bread and pasta sounded perfect. We started off with arancini, followed up with fresh bread and side salads/soup. I was very excited for my cheese tortellini, but once I saw the lasagne I became a bit jealous. To finish it off we had the maple bourbon pear cheesecake, which is a mouthful of a name. The last few bites of the creamy dessert were understandably fought over. Thankfully, we had the chance to walk off our very full stomachs by strolling down the Chrysler Greenway, located directly behind Mettawas. The sun was just setting and the foliage was bright with the colours of fall. It was the perfect ending to a beautiful day in Essex County.

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