If you have never seen Prince Edward County in the winter, I highly recommend a journey to our beautiful island community.
Having just received 25cm of fresh fluffy snow (the most this season so far), it is a terrific opportunity to visit a variety of Prince Edward County parks, including Sandbanks Provincial Park, located just 15 minutes from the Inn. You can borrow a pair of snowshoes from us or bring your cross country skis and enjoy the park’s pristine winter scenery. One of our favourite activities is to walk over the dunes in the winter – it is absolutely magical – in fact, you might be the only one there! Sandbanks Provincial Park welcomes over 700,000 visitors from May through October, so winter is a great time to enjoy the solitude.
This time of year is ideal for a visit to many of the County wineries and some of our new craft breweries, like the beer garden at Hinterland or Parson’s Brewing Company on highway 49 in Picton. You won’t be lining up at the tasting bar either. Don’t forget to ask at the front desk about which wineries are open.
What gets us through winter in the County
When we first made the move to the County in 2001, winter was pretty bleak. There were only four wineries, plus the Cider Company, and most restaurants and other destinations would close through January and February. You could say we were ‘dodging tumbleweeds’ compared to the craziness of the summer season. As the years went by, our season has gradually extended. We now have forty-eight wineries (many of which are open year-round), along with some exciting winter events and activities to keep us entertained.
In 2017, the County has become a true all-season destination. Some of our favourite winter activities include:
Artist Studios/Gallery tours: Our County artists are in residence, so you can take a leisurely self-guided tour of the many studios that are scattered throughout the County. Sculptors, painters, ceramic artists, crafters and more are all eager for your visit!
Wineries/Breweries: Our newest breweries include Parsons Brewing Company, and the Beer Garden at Hinterland.
Shopping is always a favourite activity, and Picton, Bloomfield and Wellington retailers have some great winter sales going on right now as well as new spring arrivals. Amy has already checked them all out, and has her spring wardrobe well started.
Family Day Weekend: The Family Day long weekend is a great time to explore and celebrate with the people you like best. Events around the county include the Ski-Doo Suit Ski Bunny Dance Party at Karlo Estate Winery (pretty self-explanatory), and Hinterlude at Hinterland winery, where you can sample craft beer and experience the Comfort Food Competition between three competing chefs. Consecon is the place to go for the Ice Fishing Derby, and Trail Estate Winery is hosting a French toast and wine brunch on both Saturday and Sunday. For something a little more ‘campy’, check out Three Dog Winery’s free hot dog & marshmallow roast while sampling some of their newly released baco noir. Finally, enjoy some family fun at the Sophiasburgh Winter Carnival on February 18th, where you can enjoy a chili cook-off, live music, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride, watch a hockey tournament or skate to your heart’s content.
Dinner and a Movie: Taking you through to March 25th, we are also offering our popular Dinner and a Movie promotion: a three-course table d’hote menu plus a movie ticket to the nearby Regent Theatre (it’s walking distance from the inn) for $35. Winter blues: take that!
Maple in the County: After all that excitement, we will be looking forward to the end of March, which brings us the annual Maple in the County festival – our first signs of spring! The Maple weekend of March 25 and 26 features an abundance of pancake breakfasts, sugarbush tours, maple syrup tastings and demonstrations, live entertainment and plenty of family-friendly things to do.
Countylicious: The weekend following Maple in the County, we launch straight into our spring Countylicous promotion – a twice-yearly dining event that the Merrill Inn has always participated in. 2017 is our 11th year, and we are really looking forward to it. If you have never dined at the Merrill Inn, there is no better time to try us out, but do book early as we are already starting to sell out!
Hope to see you this winter in The County!
Amy Shubert, Innkeeper