March is finally here, and for maple syrup producers across the region that means one thing: it’s time to get making that sweet liquid gold. One of the best places to learn about how they do it while indulging in a little (or a lot) of the sweet stuff yourself is Maple in the County (March 28-29). This is Prince Edward County’s once-a-year sugar extravaganza that features maple-themed events ranging from tours of sugar bushes to pancake breakfasts to wine and cider tastings to activities for kids.
With so much going on, though, it won’t be easy deciding how you’ll satisfy your sugar craving while making the most of the two-day festival. That’s where the list below comes in. Read on for how to survive—and thrive at—Maple in the County 2015.
Ten sugar bushes, ten wineries, an orchard and a couple of restaurants are taking part this year, so head over to mapleinthecounty.ca before you hit the road. Note that a sugar bush tour will likely take about an hour. A good plan that’ll give you the sweetest taste of Maple in the County: start off with a tour of a sugar bush that includes a pancake breakfast and then head to Black River Cheese in Milford for some maple cheddar followed by a visit to a winery or two for food and wine tastings in the afternoon. End the day with a maple-themed dinner at The Drake Devonshire in Wellington or Agrarian Speakeasy & Bistro in Bloomfield.
You never know what the weather will be like in March, and since you’ll be outside for some or most of Maple in the County, bring a few layers that you can easily take on and off. Planning a tour of a sugar bush? Pack some boots and even a pair of outdoor pants if you’re worried about getting your pants or socks wet. And don’t forget to pack the blades if you plan on being at the Picton arena for the free public skate on Saturday or Sunday.
No need to pack a picnic or even have breakfast before the festival—the food options will have you drooling, and you won’t have to break the bank to indulge. Read what I mean: pancake breakfasts with fresh maple syrup ($5-$10), homemade soup and a fresh roll at Sugarbush Vineyards ($3), maple bacon roasted almonds and maple bacon popcorn at Keint-he Winery & Vineyards (free), maple apple crepe with whipped cream along with maple coffee or sparkling cider at County Cider Company ($8.95). And that’s just a small sampling that doesn’t even include what’s on the menu at The Drake Devonshire or Agrarian Bistro.
Combine a Sugar Bush Tour with a Winery Visit
Don’t have enough time to include a visit to a sugar bush and a winery? No worries. Combine the two at three participating wineries that also have sugar bushes on their properties. After a tour of Three Dog Winery’s sugar bush, roast marshmallows, enjoy maple walnut sausages and waffles, browse the artisan market and have a complimentary tasting of wines. At Waupoose Estates Winery, take a stroll in the sugar bush and then visit the chickens, bunnies, ducks and goats before a pancake breakfast or maple-inspired lunch followed by free wine tastings (don’t miss Maple Ice). Sugarbush Vineyards will have guided walks through the sugar bush with maple trivia; maple taffy on snow; homemade soup and rolls; hot chocolate, mulled wines and wine tastings; and maple fudge s’mores at a bonfire.
Skate off the Sugar and Wine (or not)
If you’re worried about where all of that sugar and wine will go or you just love to skate, head to the Picton arena for free public skating on Saturday from 9:30 am – 11 am and Sunday from 1 pm – 3 pm. Rentals aren’t available, so remember to pack the blades. If, however, you find yourself veering towards a sugar coma or you’d just like to rest your feet for a couple of hours, head to the Regent Theatre in Picton for a free family movie at 2 pm on both days of Maple in the County. Stay tuned to theregenttheatre.org for which movie will be playing.
Head to mapleinthecounty.ca for all of the festival details.