Winery of the Month: Bonnieheath Estate Lavender & Winery

Nestled among the picturesque farmlands of Waterford, Bonnieheath Estate is a scenic rural retreat with the sophistication of an estate winery. Upon entering, you are greeted by their friendly dog Lucy, and immersed in the soothing scent of lavender. Wandering through the winery, an assortment of wines and ciders are displayed with locally made products such as jewelry and soap featured throughout. Despite being a tiny room, the lavender boutique’s stark contrast to the rustic feeling of the winery is an experience in itself. From floor to ceiling, lavender products are beautifully arranged on their shelves and tables showcasing bath and body products, culinary products, candles, essential oils, and many more hidden gems. Time almost seems to slow down as one carefully examine each product and breathe in the smell of lavender in the air.

Stepping out of the lavender boutique, you return to reality completely refreshed. The bar is staffed with friendly and knowledgeable employees, making the wine tasting an even more delightful experience. Their Lavender Gris is a unique dessert wine. It has a wonderful lavender aroma, with a delicious honey flavour. With a fuller body compared to their Lavender Ice wine, the Lavender Gris feels like a warm hug, presenting a full body experience when tasting the wine.

In stark contrast to their wines, Folkin’ Hard ciders have a refreshing kick that complements the chuckle that comes with the punny name. Using apples grown in their own orchard, four ciders are created. In the Face is an off-dry, refreshingly light cider, with a kick that is true to name. Cherry Pickin is a semi-sweet apple and cherry cider that is pink in colour. Aside from these two mainline ciders, both seasonal ciders are truly unique, featuring tart and sweet flavours with hints of maple and lavender respectively. Available from March to May is their Sweet Lips strawberry maple cider. For blueberry and lavender season, True Blue blueberry lavender cider that was launched on Canada Day 2017.

With a glass of wine in hand, it’s time to take a leisurely stroll through expansive lavender fields, vineyards, and orchards. Bonnieheath is also a part of Norfolk County’s ALUS program. As a part of this program, native prairie grasses and wildflowers are planted to promote wildlife biodiversity and maintain a wetland on their property. When you talk with Anita, one of the owners of Bonnieheath, she highly recommended visitors to take a walking tour of the property. After exploring the farm, a bowl of delicious lime, lavender, and blueberry sherbet while watching the sunset on their deck is the perfect way to end such an eventful day at the winery.

There is always something to do at Bonnieheath, look forward to their annual LavenderFest and many events throughout the year!

Winery of the Month: Blueberry Hill Estates Winery

Also located on St. Williams’ Front Road at Norfolk County’s oldest commercial blueberry farm is the beautiful Blueberry Hill Estate Winery. It is family owned and operated, the farmhouse converted into a charming, rustic retail store. Inside the farmhouse, there is a wide assortment of products to browse through. Here, you can browse through their selection of fruit and grape wines and ciders, followed by farm preserves, locally-sourced artisanal goods, and Hounds of Erie ciders. Beyond the store is a cute cafe, offering homemade baked goods (the blueberry crumble is to die for), coffee, and tea.

Winemaker Nick Vranckx’s winemaking philosophy is to let the fruits true character speak out through minimal intervention in the cellar. Their signature Blueberry wine embodies his vision perfectly with its peppery flavour and blueberry notes. The Vidal-Blackberry Fizz is a fun and refreshing sparkling wine, perfect on its own or to mix into a cocktail or sangria. It has a enticing berry aroma, sweet fruity flavour that finishes crisp and citrusy from the vidal in it that leaves you wanting more.

Aside from the winery, there is a flourishing seasonal farm market for visitors to purchase farm fresh or locally-produced goods such as baked goods, blueberries, blueberry honey, maple syrup, salsa and relishes, jams and jellies, pickled vegetables and more! In the summer they also have a pick-your-own program, a popular activity among visitors. Whether it be a relaxing in their cafe or patio, taking a golf cart tour of the vineyards or orchards, or leisurely browsing through the farm market, there is always something to do at the winery.

Winery of the Month: Quai du Vin

Located in the serene farmlands of St. Thomas, Quai du Vin is a beautiful winery that is a sight to behold. At its entrance, a beautiful waterfall of red water –like it is wine– flows from the winery. The retail shop has a classic interior design with a distinct European feel. A giant window looks out to the shaded patio, vineyards, stage, and outdoor seating area.

Jamie, the winemaker, believes wine should play a supporting role in life. His philosophy remains true as visitors come to try his wine in groups, and weekends are never without weddings or musical festivals. As people try his wines and smiles, he knows he has done his job right.

Talking to Roberto at the bar is a pleasure, his knowledge and soothing voice making the tasting experience a wonderful one. The Late Harvest Riesling is a beautiful wine, sweet with honey aromas. Their Vidal is their most popular white wine, with a tropical aroma and a delicate balance between sweetness and acidity. Out of curiosity, we try the the Maple Wine, a locally-sourced maple syrup that is slowly fermented. The end result is a dessert wine with maple syrup’s natural golden colour and sweet taste is preserved without any hint of alcohol in its taste.

Now it’s time to take a tour of the vineyards and relax on the Wine Press Terrace, the sunlight peaking through the vines and leaves absolutely divine. Mona is the friendly estate cat, keeping you company while you relax under the shade. After a short petting session, you head out to explore the vineyards, taking in the beautiful scenery around before heading back to the retail shop.

Picking up a bottle of Vidal on our way out, Quai du Vin is definitely a gem in the countryside. Until next time!