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Agritourism Ottawa

A Guide to Wineries, Orchards, Gardens, Farm Tours and Other Agricultural Adventures in the Ottawa Region

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Wineries

Jabulani Vineyard and Winery in Richmond

Tom and Janet Moul in the tasting room

Look out Prince Edward County and Niagara Region. Ottawa has quietly turned itself into a wine destination, with 10 wineries located within an hour of the city core. The newest is Jabulani Vineyard and Winery in Richmond (the southern part of Ottawa).

Jabulani opened only a month ago, but you’d never know from the quality of its wine and the immensely enjoyable tourist experience that owners Tom and Janet Moul provide.

I visited Jabulani around noon on a Friday – one of their quieter periods before the weekend rush. After turning down a long gravel driveway to their farm, I drove past the vineyards and parked in the grass-covered parking lot. As I got out of the car, Tom was already walking out to greet me. This is what I love about agritourism in Ottawa – no pretention, just welcoming, down-to-earth farm experiences.

Tom led me to his and Janet’s log home, where they’ve opened a tasting room in the lower level, with a walkout patio overlooking the vineyard. I was invited to take a seat at one of the wine barrel tables, where I would begin my wine tasting. Out came perfectly chilled wine, along with generous plates of cheese, crackers, and grapes. Continue reading “Jabulani Vineyard and Winery in Richmond”

Great Canadian Cheese Festival in Prince Edward County

Chef Anthony Rose from the Drake Hotel

I just returned from a wonderful 3-day weekend in Prince Edward County, where I attended the 1st annual Great Canadian Cheese Festival. I had such a great time touring cheese factories, sampling outstanding cheese, and most of all, meeting so many inspiring and passionate people who were part of the event. As one woman I met said, “This is like a wedding, but without the bride and groom!”

Over the next few blog entries, I will provide details about the tours, seminars, and tasting events that I attended. This should provide lots of ideas for agritourism experiences in Prince Edward County and beyond, and will also give you some ideas for great cheeses to seek out from your local cheese shop.

Here are the topics I will cover in the next blog entries:

  • An all-day bus tour that took us to a dairy farm, Black River Cheese, Vicki’s Veggies, Fifth Town Artisan Cheese, and County Cider
  • A full day of cheese seminars covering Canadian cheddar, cheese from Quebec, and artisan cheese in Ontario
  • The Cooks and Curds gala featuring tasting dishes prepared by eight Canadian chefs with eight Canadian cheeses and paired with Ontario wine and beers
  • The  Artisan Cheese and Fine Food Fair where cheesemakers and producers of artisan foods offered their products for sampling and purchase

It’ll take me a few days to cover all these topics (unless I write faster than I usually do), so keep checking back for new updates, including pictures from the various events.

Cheese and Wine Lovers: 3 Great Events and a GIVEAWAY!

Artisan Cheese
Artisan Cheese

Great news! There are three exciting wine and cheese events coming up this month, and I’ve got tickets to give away for one of them! Read on for more details.

On Wednesday, May 18th, Savvy Company is holding a Quebec Artisan Cheese Tasting at Thyme and Again in Westboro. Tickets are $60 each, and there are only a couple seats left, so you’ll need to act fast if you want to go.

On Wednesday, June 1st, Savvy Company is also holding a Taste and Buy event with the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The event is taking place at the National Arts Centre’s Terrace Tent, with 26 wineries showcasing their latest releases of wine. Tickets are $45 when purchased before May 20th. Sounds like a great way to spend a Wednesday evening!

And finally, the Great Canadian Cheese Festival is being held in Prince Edward County from June 3rd-5th. From the festival’s website:

For the first time in Canada, The Great Canadian Cheese Festival brings together the country’s leading cheesemakers from coast-to-coast so cheese lovers can meet to learn, talk, taste and buy the best in artisan, farmstead and specialty cheese—and sample fine wine, craft beer and artisanal foods.

Last week I attended a media launch in Ottawa for this event, and got a preview of what attendees will be enjoying at the festival. Continue reading “Cheese and Wine Lovers: 3 Great Events and a GIVEAWAY!”

10 Agritourism Destinations During Winterlude

A recent Ottawa Citizen article reported that City Councillor Doug Thompson wants visitors to “come for Winterlude and stay for the farms.” With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of fun farm destinations that Ottawa visitors can enjoy in February (or any month really).

  1. A farm stay at Gillenderry Farms in Pakenham. If you’re from out of town, why not stay in a B&B on a 170 year old farm just outside Ottawa? Gillanderry Farms is a working dairy and cash crop farm in Ottawa’s west end. The B&B offers three guestrooms in a beautiful old stone home. In your free time, you can visit the livestock and tour the farm’s museum containing 30 antique farm tractors!
  2. The animal barns at Canada Agricultural Museum. The exhibition areas are closed until February 26, but the animal barns are open. Drop by and visit with the dairy and beef cattle, pigs, sheep, horses, and chickens. Best of all, there’s no admission charge at this time of year (but donations are encouraged)! Continue reading “10 Agritourism Destinations During Winterlude”

Cross-border Shopping at the Outaouais Local Food Co-op

My Quebec contraband per Prohibition-era law

A couple months back, I wrote about a food co-op in Gatineau, Quebec called Marché de solidarité régionale de l’Outaouais. This local food distribution cooperative offers products from the Outaouais region’s farmers, manufacturers, and artisans. For a 15% premium over the producer’s regular price, customers can place their orders online and pick up their order at a downtown Hull location. The cost to join is $20/year.

I decided to join this co-op for a couple reasons. One is that the co-op includes some of my favourite producers in Ripon, Quebec, including Ferme Fée et Fougère (organic meat), Ferme aux Pleines Saveurs (organic produce and amazing strawberry pies), and Fermes Les Folies Bergères (sheep cheese).

The other reason for joining is that the co-op sells wine and ice cider from some terrific Quebec wineries. My order today included strawberry wine from Domaine Mont-Vézeau and ice cider from Vignoble du Clos Baillie. In the future, I will order ice wine from Verger Croque-Pomme, and the 2011 organic wines from Domaine des Vignobles Météores.

It’s really great to be able to order local wines and pick them up with my other local products from the co-op. The only problem is… it’s ILLEGAL for me to take these wines across the border to Ontario. Continue reading “Cross-border Shopping at the Outaouais Local Food Co-op”

Domaine des Météores Organic Winery in Ripon, Quebec

3 Types of Wine

Back in September, my husband Gary and I visited Green Gables Winery in Oxford Station, just south of Ottawa. When I found out the property was for sale, I started dreaming aloud about how fun it would be to own a winery. To which Gary replied, “Yeah, but what you really want is a winery where someone else does all the work, and your job is to on a chair at the edge of the vineyard accepting glasses of wine from the staff.”

I laughed, because it’s totally true. I now know that running a vineyard is HARD work. It’s even harder when your vineyard is organic, like Domaine des Météores in Ripon, Quebec.

Domaine des Météores is owned by André Cellard (a professor at the University of Ottawa) and Chantal Ippersiel (a former government employee who now works at the winery full-time). André and Chantal have planted 10,000 vines, with another 2,500 planned for next year. The grapes are a mix of Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, Marquette, Sabrevois, Louise Swenson, and Radisson. The Frontenac and Marquette grapes are from the University of Minnesota, which has a grape breeding program for cold hardy, disease resistant grape cultivars. Continue reading “Domaine des Météores Organic Winery in Ripon, Quebec”

Niagara FAM Tour: Henry of Pelham

Wine cellar

Our final stop of the day was Henry of Pelham Family Estate in St. Catharines. This winery was established in 1988 by Paul and Bobbi Speck, and is now operated by their sons Paul Jr., Matthew, and Daniel.

Matthew Speck (who is the Viticulture Manager) provided our tour. He started with an overview of the history of the winery and his family’s deep roots in the area (over 200 years).  The name “Henry of Pelham” comes from an ancestor, Henry Smith, who went by the name “Henry of Pelham” when signing documents. He built the 1842 carriage house that now houses the winery’s retail store and hospitality rooms. Continue reading “Niagara FAM Tour: Henry of Pelham”

Niagara FAM Tour: Southbrook Vineyards

Sheep in vineyard

After lunch at Ravine Vineyard, we headed to Southbrook Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Bill Redelmeier, who owns the winery with his wife Marilyn, greeted us outside the hospitality pavilion. We immediately headed over to the vineyard, where Southbrook’s flock of sheep were hanging out amongst the vines. The sheep have helped Southbrook become Canada’s first biodynamic-certified winery, which means that the entire property is organic and is treated as a self-contained and self-sustaining organism. (See my previous entry about a couple farms in the Ottawa area that follow biodynamic principles.)

Southbrook’s environmental commitment extends to their hospitality pavilion as well. The pavilion was designed by renowned Canadian architect Jack Diamond, and is LEED-gold certified, which is a third-party certification program for high performance green buildings. The building is worth visiting just for the architecture alone. Almost entirely glass, it offers views out to the vineyard from floor to ceiling. The front of the building has a 200-metre long landscape wall, with rainwater retention ponds perfectly integrated into the building design. Not surprisingly, the building won a 2009 International Architecture Award, known as “the world’s most prestigious architecture award”. Continue reading “Niagara FAM Tour: Southbrook Vineyards”

Niagara FAM Tour: Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery

Wine at lunch

Our next tour stop was Ravine Vineyard, located in Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Although it opened to the public only two years ago, Ravine Vineyard has it all: a beautiful setting, great wines (all organic), a historic building for wine tastings, and a deli and bakery that has gained a well-deserved following for its wood-fired, stone oven breads.

We started our tour in the Woodruff House, an 1802 heritage home where the main tasting room is located (along with several tasting rooms that can be booked for private events). The assistant winemaker, Shauna White, gave us an overview of the winemaking process and answered many questions from the group. Although relatively young, Shauna is a very experienced winemaker, having grown up around a family vineyard in B.C., and then working at wineries in France, Australia, New Zealand, and Oregon (not to mention graduating from the Winery and Viticulture Technician program at Niagara College). Throughout her talk, we enjoyed several different wines from the winery. Continue reading “Niagara FAM Tour: Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery”

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