Address: 1112 Royal Road, Milford, ON K0K 2P0
Phone: (613) 476-1052
Prince Edward County is well known for their wines! Do not leave the county without trying at least three or five wineries and buy some good quality wines. We were recommended by our B&B owner to visit Exultet Winery. The GPS was useless and no one could really give us the exact address. We resorted to the most basic way, ask people for directions and memorize words or names. After summarizing our directions given: turn on the street where the lighthouse marine museum is and turn at the fork and drive until you see a sign, if driving from Milford Back River.
Exultet is a Latin word meaning song of rejoicing. The beautiful word represents the Joy and praise for wines that are transcendent and meaningful, emerging from darkness. Vineyards were first planted in 2004, taking a couple of years to finally produce their brand and wines. The winery and production site is a simple lone barn, a former 1870’s Cheese Factory. Also, has a comparatively small acreage (10 acres) for the vineyard when measured with other wineries in the area. The parking lot is on the field next to the white building. We were the only car then when arrived. You will have to walk around to the back in order to enter the tasting room, which is on the small side. This boutique winery do not handle large crowds anyways. Even so, it has a peaceful environment, and a hint of grandeur, wrapped by the surrounding endless fields.
Exultet Winery is a hands-on, family operated business, making around 1000 cases of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Vidal Icewine, in total a year. The owners, Gerry and Lia, were exceptionally confident, passionate and proud of their wines. Even though they have two international workers working for them, the down to earth family also take part in the challenging and hardworking tasks by taking on the roles of planters, harvesters, wine makers and bottlers. They are made by truly 100% Prince Edward County Grapes, producing the real Prince Edward County wines, as rated by VQA Ontario. Sustainable agriculture is implemented by burying or replanting their vines into the soil again for another year of growth, keeping the fruit pure and native to the area. The wines are truly made by using oak barrels. Traditional techniques are kept and implemented at Exultet, producing real one of a kind wines! Because some of the wineries in Prince Edward County import fruit and juices from the Niagara Region.
*On the wine bottles, if it says VQA Ontario, it usually means Niagara Region fruit. While VQA Prince Edward County means native grapes and made in the county.*
Their efforts definitely did pay off. The wall left of the entrance displays all the awards they have won with their wines. They have won the Lieutenant Governor’s Gold Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines for five years in a row, from 2010 to 2015; apparently, the only winery in the region that was able to keep the title for consecutive years. The winner wine, a Chardonnay named The Blessed, has a deep meaningful signature implying how everything they do, they own and everyone around is a blessing to the family, and is grateful to have created a unique white wine. In fact, I feel very honored to visit the estate and experience their wines and bring it home to share with others.
The wine tasting ($2 per tasting) and wines ($26 to $46) are a slightly more expensive than others in the county. However, if you purchase wine from them, the tasting fee will be waived, I believe a minimum of two bottles. This boutique winery is definitely for someone who is serious about their wines, have high standards or really is looking for one of a kind. This small scale, hands on, family owned operation, creates small batches a year, really truthfully charges fairly. It honestly is worth every penny.
Through my chats with Gerry and Lia, they are extremely knowledgeable about wines. They were friendly and welcoming; also, meticulous. Their plantation process, when to harvest, how their fermentation works, storing in oak barrels and when bottling takes place were all fully explained to me. I was told their barrels, wine bottles and corks were imported from France and they quality control everything. They were giving me tips on how to pair the individual wines, what to look and differences to look for in each wine, what particular flavours you can taste in the wine. Their seriousness about wine made me thought I was walking through a museum.
Wine tasting was done based on your palate and your personal liking. I like white wines more than red. I also do not like my wines dry. Therefore, Lia was recommending a few wines based on my personal tastes:
- 2014 Mysterium : a white wine made of red grapes, is my favourite wine of all that I tried. This white Pinot Noir white wine had a fruity and mellow flavour, with a dark yellow appearance. This is supposedly a dryer or more tart choice on their wine list but I disagree and find it really smooth or easy to drink.
- The Blessed Chardonnay : is the award winning wine for consecutive five years. This is a very consistent white wine they make. This has a fairly strong oak taste and quite buttery too. I think my palate was confused by the time I tried it because it feels dryer than the other white when it should not be. But overall, I liked the flavour of the Mysterium more.
- 2014 cruX Rose : a white and red wine mixture is dryer than I expected. It is also on the bitter side, resembles a red wine more. I am unsure I like the rose type or this form of combination.
- 2013 Dolce Ghiacciato Vidal Icewine : a juice like drink, very sweet. It is the only ice wine produced in the county.
- 2013 The Beloved Pinot Noir : I tried a red just to see if I can change my view on them or if I can overcome my barriers. I still find it drier than whites, somewhat tart or but not as strong as port. But, I was able to taste the oak wood and a slight chocolate aroma in the wine.
Exultet wines are not sold in LCBO or anywhere else, only at their estates or online. They sell out quite fast and annually too, so take the opportunity to purchase a high end qualitative drink whenever you can. I walked out with a two bottles of Mysterium and a bottle of Vidal Ice wine. I regret not buying a bottle of the award winning wine for my own experience and for sentimental value. These wines can be stored for at least five years unopened, stored with the bottle tipped down so the liquid is in contact with the wooden cork. The ice wine has a one year life span because it has high sugar content, hence gets spoiled easier.
I conclude, this is a hidden gem in the county. The meaning and dedication to wine resurrects the area and the century old farm. No one can ever produce the same wines because the growth of the grapes depend on the soil, water, exposure. This gives each wine a certain character that cannot be copied. Exultet Estates is not well known. But if you are in the area, I highly recommend them because you will not disappoint. In my opinion, they produced the best wine in the county.