It’s 45 minutes from downtown Ottawa, and I’d never heard of it. Ripon, Quebec – an unexpected agritourism hotspot, and one of the prettiest drives in our region.

The Ripon area has it all – wineries, farm tours, cheese shops, specialty butchers, display gardens, organic farms, and more. It’s a fantastic place to visit as a day trip. Just remember to bring your cooler, because you’ll have a lot of food to bring back by the end of the day.

In this entry, I’ll cover the places that I visited on a Friday two weeks ago. I had planned to go back a week later, but had to change my plans at the last minute, so now I plan to finish off with the remaining visits in a couple weeks.

Here’s where I’ve visited so far:

Fermes Les Folies Bergeres: A roadside shop in St-Sixte (on the way to Ripon) that sells artisan sheep cheeses using milk exclusively from their farm. Everything is delicious and very fresh.

Les Jardins d’Emmarocalles: A 4-acre floral park set amidst beautiful rolling farmland in Ripon. They have over 500 varieties of perennials and 1200 daylilies. Admission is $5, although the owner said I didn’t need to pay at that time of year (late September). They also sell plants, and have a nice-looking B&B on the site.

Ferme Moreau: A butcher shop located on a farm in Ripon. They carry a wide variety of local meat, including squab, duck, red deer, and bison – as well as more typical meat like pork. They do their smoking on-site, and their ham is excellent (and cheap). They also carry a range of local products like maple syrup. There’s a window where you can look into the butcher area, if you so desire!

Domaine Mont-Vézeau: A winery specializing in strawberry wine as well as wine made from grapes. The location is just beautiful – rows and rows of grapes set against a mountain backdrop. They also grow their own strawberries, and have a u-pick operation in season. They refer to their strawberry wine as more of a port – however it’s classified, it’s delicious! None of their products are carried in the Quebec SAQ stores, but the strawberry wine is carried in some high-end restaurants in Montreal, and will be available at the SAQ in a year or so. Apparently it is very difficult to get the SAQ to carry Quebec wines – even more difficult than what the small Ontario producers experience with the LCBO. Ahhh… government monopolies.

Ferme Fée et Fougère: An organic farm selling meat and prepared foods from their on-site store. They also run a B&B on the top floor of their farmhouse, and provide a farm tour in the morning for their guests. The atmosphere at this farm is very peaceful, and it would be an excellent place to stay while touring the area. Note: their deli meat is prepared at Ferme Moreau, and contains no preservatives.

Ferme aux Pleines Saveurs: An on-site farm store that sells organic fruit and vegetables, as well as prepared products. While checking out with my purchases, I was encouraged to buy one of their organic strawberry pies that they’d made that morning. I agreed that would be a great idea, and believe me, that was one AMAZING pie!

La Ferme HLF du Lac Simon: An on-site farm store that sells organic vegetables, streambank cover plants, and sauces made on site. The chickens were walking freely around the plants for sale outside, and the staff was having a beer at the end of the day when I arrived. A very relaxed place!

I should mention that all of the above places were fully bilingual, with the exception of Ferme Moreau. Even at Ferme Moreau, they were very patient with me trying to get out my questions in French, and they did speak some English. Although it would be nice to be able to speak French, those of us who speak very little French (or none at all) should feel very comfortable in visiting Ripon.

Next up on my Ripon tour list is Domaine des Vignobles Météores (an organic winery) and Les Trois Coteaux (a heritage breed farm Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix that offers tours). I will post that information when I visit in a couple weeks.