Welcome to The Wine Tourist

Veronica Leonard

Veronica Leonard

I am passionate about wine touring. I love meeting the vintners, the winemakers and the viticulturists who make it all happen. I love the green rows of ripening grapes and the cool tranquility of the barrel cellar where wood and wine languidly embrace. Most of all, I love the wine tasting, selecting wines that appeal to my tastes and bringing them home to cellar and pair with the right time, food and company.

I’m also interested in Canadian craft cider, craft beer and craft distilleries.

I’m not a critic or a wine connoisseur. I’m a tourist, like you, learning as I go. Come tour with me.


Autumn Getaway with wine!

Life happens.

This blog has been silent for several months as we dealt with my convalescence from knee surgery coupled with the loss of two elderly much loved parents. Earlier this week, as I hobbled around with a cane and Colin grappled with the after affects of pneumonia, we decided we had to get away for a few days to start healing.

We wanted somewhere not too far away, on water, quiet and comfortable with food and housekeeping included.  I’d heard about Elmhirst Resort in Keene, Peterborough County Ontario and checked out their website. Thirty-two housekeeping cabins, each with  fireplaces, king size beds, double Jacuzzi, WiFi, a deck with barbecue, lawn furniture and its own private dock  It has free access to canoes, kayaks, bicycles, miles of trails, indoor and outdoor pools, sauna and fitness centre. Also available – at a cost – float plane aerial tours of Rice Lake,  power boat rental, horse back riding, spa treatments and guided wine tasting.


The main Elmhirst building houses meeting rooms, a spa, workout centre, sauna, pool, two dining rooms and a pub and opens onto an outdoor pool

We packed the car with all the wrong clothes and a bottle of Creekside Syrah 2013 .  We slowly meandered  through the backroads of Hastings and Northumberland Counties enjoying the countryside and fall colours. We stopped in Warkworth, where The Village Pantry  supplied us with beautiful artisan cheese and crackers to go with our wine and at Sprucewood Brands  for their gourmet shortbread cookies. The maple are decadent and the spicy Thai pairs well with wine and cheese.

The trees had started to turn and were in that delightful early fall stage where splashes of  red, orange and  yellow glow through still green leaves,  as if an artist had downed his brushes for the day but would return to add more colours over the coming days.


Autumn View or Rice Lake from ELmhirst Resort

Elmhirst Resort is a property that has been in the Elmhirst family for four generations since 1906.  It is 240 acres with a mile of shoreline on Rice Lake. It has everything you could possibly want in terms of comfort and convenience including a landing strip for small planes. The restaurant is excellent with a beautiful view of the lake Most of their food is sourced onsite from their large vegetable garden, their herd of Black Angus catttle, and their own free range ducks and chickens. The lake provides fresh fish. .The resort is pet friendly, so if you didn’t bring a pet, one of the Elmhirst cats or golden retrievers will be happy to stop by for a cuddle.


Honorary Concierge Oliver, stops by to say hello.

Our first night, we enjoyed the best steaks I’ve tasted for years at their Wild Blue Yonder pub and was delighted by their wine list almost entirely Ontario wines. Their wine by the glass menu which showcased old friends including my Creekside Syrah, Huff Estates Merlot, Trail Estate Rosé, Casa Dea Cuvée,  Southbrook Cabernet Merlot, and wines I hadn’t tried from Peninsula Ridge and Megalomaniac.  This is just the by the glass list, most Ontario restaurants don’t have this much local wine on their entire wine list.

The Elmhirst complete wine list included bottles from Norman Hardie, The Grange of Prince Edward, Closson Chase, Lacey Estates, Hidden Bench, Flat Rock Cellars, 2027 Vineyard, Kacaba, Big Head, Between the Lines, Ravine,  Tawse and so many more of the leading names from Niagara and Prince Edward County.  I was in heaven.

We spent the next day touring, there was so much nearby: ZimArt Gallery   Lang Pioneer Village, Lakefield, Peterborough, Curve Lake Reserve with its wonderful Whetung Ojibwa Centre  of native arts and crafts from across Canada,  and the must see  picturesque Trent Severne Waterway community of Bobcaygeon. I am probably the only visitor who didn’t buy shoes at Begley’s.


GM Greg Elmhirst waits at the door of their wine cellar

We’d made an appointment with Greg Elmhirst, the resort’s General Manager for a tour of their Wine Celllar before dinner and a wine tasting.  The wine cellar was converted from the basement of a building that is no longer there. Instead there are flag stone steps leading down into a door in the side of a hill. The tasting room has a large wooden table down the centre and shelves of wine around the walls, a caged- in area along one wall, holds the family’s private wine collection, the rest is all wines available through their restaurant.

Greg has one of those tasting kits full of small sample bottles of typical wine aromas: rose, cherry, hay, tobacco, figs, leather, toast etc. As we sampled some of his wines and tried to determine what were the aromas, flavours and notes, he handed around a series of little bottles to see if they would help us make a match.  We tasted three lesser known Ontario wines Norman Hardie‘s  Melon de Bourgoyne, Big Head’s  Savignin and Megalomaniac‘s  2010 Grounded Cabernet Merlot.   Most of all, we talked about the Ontario wine community, great winery experiences and  must try wines.

It was enough to make me decide I had to blog again. I’m starting to heal.wine-cellar-interior

Elmhirst is a year round resort with a full winter program for both snowmobiliers, cross country skiers, ice sailing as well as indoor arts activities. Megalomanic Winery is hosting a winemaker’s dinner on New Years Eve. Tempting..

Quinte Craft Beer by the Bay

Crowd scene CraftMark Rashotte, realtor, owner of the Empire Theatre, and entrepreneur extraordinaire who has made Belleville a centre for avant garde movies and highly sought after musical acts was  a little out of his comfort zone when he organized an outdoor craft beer festival March 12. Continue reading

Canadian Cellars  at Black Prince Winery

2015 Wine Touring Highlights

2015 was a year of discovery while wine touring in Prince Edward County and beyond.

I emerged from winter cold storage in May for Terroir in the County and my blog 42 Splashes of Wine outlined the joys and dangers of being a wine blogger and elicited some much needed advice from other wine bloggers afterwards on the protocols of spitting. I’m looking forward to next year’s Terroir when hopefully I will be able to walk a straight line on my way back to the car, which is never driven by me.

Terroir set the tone and provided the leads for some of the most fun writing assignments I had this year. Continue reading

New spring releases being poured at tasting rooms like this at the Grange Winery across Prince Edward County

Spring Wines / Bay of Quinte Tourism Site

Please visit my blog Spring Offerings at Prince Edward County Wineries at the Bay of Quinte Tourism website

5 Top Reasons to take a Wine Tour

On the road with Niagara Vintage Wine Tours

On the road with Niagara Vintage Wine Tours

Treat yourself to a real wine tour in 2015 – the kind with a bus, a guide and an itinerary. It’s worth the cost in terms of information, safety and pure enjoyment. Here are my top five reasons why to pay for the experience, at least for the first visit to a wine region.

1 No Designated Drivers

It’s hard not to swallow when you are tasting wines even if you are just taking a little sip, they add up. Designated drivers often succumb to the “just a taste” offers of their friends. The cost of an official wine tour is a fraction of the cost of a DUI charge and the consequences of losing your licence. Pay for the tour, and you will all have fun, learn a lot and come home with a Continue reading

Where is PEC in Vintages Essentials?

Vintages Essentials129Vintages Essentials Magazine from the LCBO is out. This classy magazine tells Ontario wine lovers the essential top 130 wines to have in your wine cellar. There is not a single Prince Edward County wine on the list.

There are a 25 from Niagara, three from BC and  102 from the rest of the world.  The LCBO is a government owned monopoly in Ontario, it rakes off a lot of taxes from the sale of wine both through its stores and at the wineries themselves and yet it seem to think that only a couple of dozen Ontario wines, spread across the entire spectrum of wines and only from Niagara grapes, can be called “essential.”  What is the criteria?

I find this so ironic. Two weeks ago, I interviewed Norman Hardie, a leading Prince Edward County winery owner and winemaker, who said “The amazing terroir and soils of Prince Edward County have allowed us to make world-class wines.” Continue reading

South African “braai” wines

Sosaties picture from the Wats4Eats website http://www.whats4eats.com/meats/sosaties-recipe

Sosaties picture from the Wats4Eats website

It’s South Africa’s National Braai Day today Sept 24.  Braai means Barbecue. You might ask why we are celebrating Barbecue Day now when winter is just over the horizon, but for South Africans who are in the southern hemisphere this is the first of spring, when you set the chairs on the deck despite the cool breezes and say “Come on sun, bring on the good times.”

I guess that’s why they market Canada’s Braai Day on Sept 20 before the first day of fall as a final celebration of the great barbecues of the summer before you put the patio furniture away Continue reading

Castle Melnik historic castle and winery of the Czech Republic.

Why did I hate this wine?

Melnik Castle, a thousand years of history, the largest vineyard in Bohemia, impressive barrel cellars that may once have been dungeons, and massive oak wine barrels built on site emblazoned with the family crest and other carvings. What’s not to love?

Actually, the wine. Continue reading

Rosehall Run Winery venue for Rosehall Theatre

Wine and Laughter at Rosehall Theatre

Step on the gas, don’t let Test Drive at Rosehall Theatre pass you by.

Rosehall Theatre has got to be one of the nicest venues to spend a summer evening. Theatre goers are on risers under a large canopy close to the stage with a back drop of acres of Rosehall Run vines. The play put on by Festival Players could be a disaster but you’d still enjoy the view. Which is why, when I was told I could exchange my opening night tickets to Test Drive for later in the season, I bet on the view.

TestDriveGraphicThe problem was that the lead actor had left the show and his replacement, Douglas Hughes, had only had six days to prepare to take his place. The director, Sarah Phillips, confessed to the opening night crowd, she had absolutely no idea how the show would go but we were to expect some ad-libbing, surprises and even the odd whispered cue. Continue reading