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Bargain hunting for Prince Edward County wines

Sandbanks is one of Prince Edward County's better known wineries with a selection of wines at affordable prices in the LCBO.
Sandbanks is one of Prince Edward County's better known wineries with a selection of wines at affordable prices in the LCBO.
Colin Leonard photographer

Buying wine is an essential part of winetouring but it can get a little pricey after a while especially as I visit several wineries at a time, so I do look for bargains.

Waupoos Estate and Sandbanks Estate have established reputations among local wine buyers for affordable enjoyable wines but, in recent visits to Prince Edward County, I discovered that a number of other wineries have lowered the prices or have developed products in the $14-$20 price range.

Lower prices are not necessarily a good thing. Some wineries' cheaper wines aren't worth buying as they lack any definable flavour. An expensive wine in a lower priced winery is sometimes a more satisfactory purchase than a cheap one at a higher priced winery.

Recently, a couple of the higher priced wineries have deliberately lowered their prices. Long Dog Winery started the trend a year ago and their wines are wonderful. The winery is a little off the beaten track but well worth visiting. Keint-he has also slashed its prices and is coming up with some really interesting wines.

The Grange has a new line of wines in the mid teens: Riesling, Chardonnay, Gamay and Pinot Gris, that are geared for the restaurant market but available at the winery and have a great taste profile for their varietal and price.

In fact, looking for the restaurant wine, is a great way of looking for an affordable quality wine. The glass of wine on the wine menu is the best advertisement a winery has for potential new buyers, but restaurants usually add 60 -100% mark up on a bottle of wine so the price of the bottle has to be low at the winery. Norm Hardie's Melon de Bourgogne, for example, comes out in the spring and is rapidly sold off to restaurants but well worth reserving a few bottles if you can get your order in.

Casa Dea has three good wines geared for the restaurant market and at very affordable prices: their Gamay at $14.95 and their unoaked Chardonnay at $15.95 and a wonderful charnat style sparkling wine Dea's Cuvée. Paul Marconi states they have a policy of trying to keep their prices affordable to the widest possible range of consumers.

On the subject of affordable sparklings Huff Estates Vidalescco at $19 , Lighthall's Progression at $20.00 Hinterland's White Cap Charnat at $22 and are terrific buys. Of course if you want to have Traditional Method bottle fermented sparklings, both Huff and Hinterland have excellent choices in the $30-$40 range still a bargain.

Huff Estates has three excellent wines for $18 their 2011 Riesling, 2011 Chardonnay and 2012 South Bay Rosé which show as much care in their making as their more expensive wines.

Some of the lesser known wineries also have some surprising bargains. 33 Vines has a very good Baco Noir in the mid teens and Broken Stone Winery, a newcomer this year to the County has a surprisingly good Pinot Noir for $18 that compares well against some more expensive County Pinots.

What bargain wines do you recommend for taste and price from Prince Edward County? Leave a comment below Follow Veronica Leonard's column here or her blogsite at or on Twitter @travelprose.

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