Ontario makes some of the world’s best cool climate wines and the nearest vineyard may be closer than you think. You don’t have to travel to Prince Edward County or the Niagara Escarpment when cottage country is packed with award-winning, innovative wineries. Here are seven to seek out.
Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery
At this farm and cranberry bog, the wine is fresh and fruity. Bala’s Muskoka Lakes specializes in cranberry and blueberry wines. As Ontario’s oldest cranberry farm, visiting here is a delight, whether you’re snowshoeing, hiking the trails, or taking part in the “Cranberry Plunge” (wadding into the bog for some colourful photos).
Pelee Island Winery
Pelee Island Winery is flush with bragging rights. It’s Canada’s southernmost estate winery and, with over 700 acres of vineyards, it’s also the biggest. From Baco Noir to Vidal Blanc, they grow nearly two dozen varietals, and wines range from cute, single serving bottles to robust bag-in-box kits, perfect for any cottage gathering.
Kawartha Country Wines
Tucked beside Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park, Kawartha Country Wines almost feels more like an orchard than a winery. They offer more than 40 varieties of fruit wine, including gooseberry, nectarine, and sour cherry. They were also the first in Canada to make spiced pumpkin wine—something to try on a fall closing-up weekend.
Potter Settlement Wine
Located outside Tweed, Ont., Potter Settlement Wines offers a number of dry and fruit wines, but the real draw here is the 2017 Marquette. This multi-award winning red wine, made with cold-hearty grapes, is aged in French oak. Perhaps that’s why it felt right at home in Bordeaux, where it won gold in the 2021 Challenge du Vin, beating out over 3,500 competitors.
Ottawa’s unforgiving winters don’t scare the wine makers at KIN Vineyards. Located just west of the city in Carp, KIN grows Ontario’s northernmost Chardonnay. The vines are painstakingly buried by hand each autumn to protect them from the punishing snow. Given that the winery’s next-door neighbour is the subterranean Diefenbunker Museum, going underground seems rather appropriate.
Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery
Don’t let the foreboding name scare you. Coffin Ridge offers heavenly views over Georgian Bay and a lineup of wines with punny titles. In addition to cold-hearty varieties like Marquette and L’Acadie Blanc, it also offers a delicious orange wine called Divine Intervention.
The Cottage Winery
If you want to be a bit more hands-on when it comes to your libations, The Cottage Winery in Bracebridge is ideal. This DIY winery store invites you to make your very own wine and then return in four to six weeks for bottling. Custom labels are available, a fun option for anyone hosting a cottage wedding or reunion.