Winter in “The County”

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

Our Local Art Program

We are blessed with a multitude of talented artists in Prince Edward County, and for the past 15 years we have had the opportunity to proudly display some of the art throughout the Inn. This week, with the assistance of my mother, who had a successful art consulting business in Toronto, we hung a new collection (which will be on display until the early fall).

The art is hung in both public spaces and guestrooms, allowing our Inn guests to thorough enjoy the art while either staying at the Inn or dining in the Restaurant. The collection encompasses many mediums, from oil, acrylic and water colour to encaustic, photography, sculpture and fused glass.

My mom and I choose art based on size of the piece, colours and what kind of a statement it makes. In other words…don’t put something “dark and ominous” in our most romantic room. Our guestroom that might appeal more to our “Girlfriends Weekend” has a slightly more feminine appeal. At the beginning of this art hanging process, I learned more on my mom’s expertise. Now that we have been hanging art together for 15 years, I have developed a good eye (in my humble opinion), and if we ever differ on which piece goes where, I usually win the debate. Actually, she applauds my decisions, which makes me feel proud.

All of the pieces are for sale, and the Inn does not charge any commission. We are honoured to display original County art and feel that this benefits both the artists and the Merrill Inn.

Some of the artists displayed at the Inn currently are Linda Barber, Pamela Carter, Andrew Csafordi, Peggy deWitt, Tracy Douglas, Andrew Innes, Judy Kent, Janine Kinch, Dona Knudsen, Rick Matthews, Joanna McFarland, Margaret McFetridge, Susan Moshynski, Mile Murtanovski, Ron Pickering, Judy Plomer, Andrew Pyman Varangu, Celia Sage, Caroline Shuttle, Douglas Thompson, Harry Van Dyke and Robin Wall and Tara Wilkinson.

We are also proud sponsors of the annual Art in the County show in the summer.

Amy Shubert

Welcome to Our First Blog

January 31st is a key date on our calendar as it marks the day Amy and I purchased the Merrill Inn. This time around, it signifies the beginning of our 16th year.

January is also the time when we do two important tasks:

  • Take a well-deserved break along with our hard working team
  • Spruce up the inn with new paint, carpets, furniture and anything and everything that needs TLC after a busy year of welcoming guests.

You can imagine the wear and tear that thousands of people can create! This is our time of year that we work hard to make the Merrill Inn look pristine for a new year and new guests ahead!

Join us every week when we share with you some of our thoughts on innkeeping, behind the scenes insights, “Best of the County” lists and highlights from our unique perspective as we welcome guests to the Merrill Inn. Here is to a great 2017!