Saturday, August 16, 2014

Apple Pie Trail: Blue Mountain and Beaver Valley Culinary Road Trip

Apple Pie Trail

Blue Mountain and Beaver Valley Culinary Road Trip


On an annual culinary road trip last week, a scenic drive through the towns and hamlets along the Georgian Bay coastline, through the remarkable Beaver Valley, and along the top of the Niagara Escarpment brought us past Georgian Hills Vineyard. Unknowingly, we had decided to follow a similar route to that of the Blue Mountain Apple Pie Trail. A year round culinary route, the trail winds through the apple and pear growing country from just east of Owen Sound to Collingwood offering a top-notch culinary adventure. Over the last six years, the trail has expanded by offering travellers a diverse complement of agricultural and culinary partners, tours, events and experiential adventures that focus on Ontario's apple orchard country. The trail connects 37 stops for local apple-inspired products and fare, including restaurants, orchards, food merchants, breweries and wineries. A winner of Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence, the trail also received Tourism Ontario's Culinary Experience Award in 2012.

Georgian Hills Vineyard
At the Georgian Hills Vineyard our hospitable and intelligent hosts, Vanessa and Joel and talked to us about the winemakers and explained that combination of the Niagara Escarpment’s unique terroir of soils and the microclimate created by the proximity to Georgian Bay. Georgian Bay's moderating effects produces favourable grape growing conditions and the area has been designated “an emerging wine region” by the Wine Council of Ontario. We were impressed by the depth of knowledge of our hosts and the amount of time they dedicated to speaking about the wine-making process and the region's terroir.

Our wine and local food tasting experience was exceptional; we sampled several varietals that included a Perry, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Unoaked Chardonnay, Marachel Foch and a Vidal: Frozen on the Vine. We retreated to the terrace with glasses of Riesling and a superbly presented platter of cheeses and charcuterie to comfortable chairs facing the vineyard. The vineyard contains 12 acres and has the vidal grapes that create ice wine. Georgian Hills, which is partly owned by Murray Puddicombe of Stoney Ridge Winery in Niagara, makes its own form of sweet dessert wine called Frozen to the Core, created from peaches and apples.

Tasting room hours are Wednesday through Sun from 12 – 5 pm. You can contact Georgian Hills by visiting their website or calling at 519-599-2255.

Beaver Valley Cidery
Our next stop was the Beaver Valley Cidery, where hard ciders are crafted in small batches from select varieties of heritage apples grown in their own orchard or supplied by local Georgian Bay growers. The restored century barn has been converted into a cidery and tasting room. Co-owner Judy Cornwell told us, that they kept the barn's foundation, and post and beams, replacing the cladding, floor and roof. The tasting room and the outdoor gardens are stunning. Two types of hand-crafted ciders can be tasted and paired with a plate of artisanal cheeses.

Open May to December, Thursday to Sunday 11-6 pm
235853 Beaver Valley Rd (Grey Rd 13), Kimberley  416 464 9213

The Cheese Gallery
Casey Thomson's Cheese Gallery on the main street in Thornbury is a cheese shop in a gallery setting showcasing the talent of local artisans who craft local foods, beverages and art. We usually visit the Cheese Gallery several times a year.This unique experience offers a licensed tasting bar with cozy seating, charcuterie and a truly dazzling array of artisan cheeses. Open year round, daily. 11 Bruce St. South, Thornbury; 519 599-6699

Bruce wine bar kitchen
Bruce wine bar is a scratch kitchen, featuring farm-to-table menus which showcase local and regional products. Dine on traditional Neapolitan wood-fired pizzas (funghi, artisan salumi, fennel sausage etc), salads and sandwiches downstairs in The Kitchen, or head upstairs to the Wine Bar for an array of fine wines, spirits and craft beer, shared plates and charcuterie. Think, smoked local whitefish fritters or beef striploin tartare with sous vide duck egg yolk. The Bruce wine bar follows sustainable principles.They are also Ocean Wise partners.There is live music on Friday nights. Open daily July & August, lunch & dinner; closed Mondays September to June. Highly recommended.

8 Bruce Street South, Thornbury; (alley behind TD Bank) 519 599-1122

Coffin Ridge Winery
Situated along a long gravel concession road north-west of Meaford, Coffin Ridge is a surprise for the uninitiated. On my first visit several years ago, I remarked on its similarity to the Italian countryside with the slope of the hills facing towards the sun and Georgian Bay. The contemporary tasting bar and room opens to an elevated deck overlooking Georgian Bay and the striking vineyards. We were told that winter hardy grape varieties flourish here with hybrids like L’Acadie Blanc and Marquette.

Grey County’s first winery produces quality, small-batch wine made primarily from hand-planted, hand-picked grapes that thrive in the Grey County’s clay soil and frigid climate.The three signature wines; Into the Light WhiteBack From the Dead Red and Resurrection Rosé, express the region’s terroir.

On previous visits to Coffin Ridge we have retreated to the deck for a glass of wine and their vintner's plate made up of locally baked breads, honey, chocolate and cheeses which are paired with the wine you have selected. We arrived just before 5 pm and were told the kitchen was closed. After a few minutes they offered the sumptuous picnic in the photograph below.
Open daily 11- 6 pm  Friday nights until 9 pm; May – December;
Open Thursday – Sunday 12- 5 pm January to April.
599448 2nd Concession North, Annan; 519 371-9565

The Blue Mountains Apple Pie Trail
Travelling the quiet country roads of the Blue Mountains you can savour the sweet aroma of apple blossoms; ripening fruit in the summer; brilliant pallete of autumn colours and crisp ski hills in the winter No matter what time of year you visit, the Apple Pie Trail is truly a year round culinary destination.

The Blue Mountains Apple Pie Trail was awarded best Ontario Tourism Culinary Experience Award at the Ontario Tourism Summit in Hamilton, Ontario in 2011. This year the culinary trail added six new stops, including the Northwinds Brewhouse and Eatery, and Bonnie Dorgelo Jewellery and Paintings in Collingwood; Twist Martini Restaurant and Bar and Booster Juice in the Blue Mountain Village; and the aforementioned Bruce Wine Bar in Thornbury; and the Beaver Valley Cidery. To find out more about  the experience, visit:

We also stopped at the hospitable Kimberly General Store for some provisions and a delicious sandwich. Check out the video below.

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