Thursday, 23 August 2012


My search for mead:  In the winter I came across a recipe for a chicken dish that called for mead.  Who knew that mead was difficult to find?  I did some research on the internet and found only two places (meaderies) in the province of Ontario:  Munro's Honey & Meadery ( in Alvinston, Ontario and Rosewood Estate Winery in the Niagara Peninsula (    Since I had already planned a visit to Pelee Island in July I decided to wait and visit Alvinston (west of London, Ontario) rather than purchasing online.

Mead history:  Mead is claimed to be the first consumable alcoholic beverage dating back 10,000 years.  Mead is simply the fermentation of honey and water and was believed to be medicinal, according to ancient Greeks or even magical, according to the Celts. The term "honeymoon" may refer to the Celtic wedding tradition of toasting the bride and groom with mead to ensure a long marriage and the newlyweds drinking mead for a lunar cycle to ensure a successful and fertile union.  See the Rosewood Winery site for more information on mead.

Munro Honey & Meadery:  I had a ferry to catch to Pelee Island from Leamington, Ontario at midday so I arrived early on Saturday morning to Alvinston.  The saleswoman cheerfully poured each available type of mead for me to taste.  Unfortunately the semi-sweet mead, their most popular mead, had sold out.  I did not enjoy the blueberry or other fruit-flavoured mead as the sweet fruit overwhelmed the delicate honey flavour but the dry and sweet meads were both enjoyable and one of them, hopefully, will suit the chicken recipe that initiated this mead quest.  At the suggestion of the saleswoman I also purchased Golden Aged Mead, although none was available for tasting.  It is a dessert mead with a rich honey-brown appearance.

Food and mead pairing:  I haven't tried the chicken recipe yet but I have soaked fresh peaches in the Golden Aged Mead, as suggested by friendly saleswoman.  Mead soaked peaches over ice cream! Divine!

Honey products at Munro:  It's worth the drive to Alvinston, if you like honey!  After watching bees work busily in a hive enclosed within glass panes, I sampled honey at a tasting station. Munro  has hives all around the region and produces a variety of honey and blended products.  I couldn't resist their  honey-cinnamon butter, honey with cinnamon, raspberry-jalapeño honey and buckwheat honey. The raspberry-jalapeño honey is exquisite in salad dressing over a kale salad with goat cheese, on roast chicken and drizzled over vanilla ice cream.  

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


Social-Political History of Pelee Island:  The Island was inhabited by aboriginal peoples  (the museum on the island displays interesting archaeological treasures) prior to colonial presence.  Thomas McKee, a British commander,  leased the land from two First Nations in 1788 to begin farming, while the aboriginal peoples maintained rights to hunt and fish on the island.  The McCormick family then purchased the island outright in 1834 and alloted land to various family members for settlement.  British loyalists and First Nations peoples repelled attacks from the United States on more than one occasion in the first half of the 19th century.  For more information see

Geography and Natural History:  Pelee Island, in Lake Erie (the smallest of the Great Lakes) is the most southern inhabited point in Canada.  The lsland is approximately 42 square kilometers and, due to its southern location, it has unique flora and fauna that cannot be found in other parts of Canada.   The short hike through the Fish Point Reserve Nature Reserve explains the special species of turtles, trees and plants on the Island.  At this reserve, the Pelee Island Bird Observatory monitors the migration of birds (see  The Stone Road Alvar, a unique limestone plain, is also home to numerous rare plant species.

Vineyards on the Island: The first winery on the Island, Vin Villa, started to operate in the mid 1860s and the Pelee Island Wine company was formed with agent J.S. Hamilton in Brantford, Ontario in the 1890s.  The winery won international prizes in Paris, France according to and maintained production into the early 1900s.  Tobacco and other cash crops became popular on the Island and in southwestern Ontario generally.  In the last few decades grape growing was reintroduced given that the Island's microclimate, with the most frost-free days in Canada at 196 days, has a long growing season and is conducive to a number of grape varietals. Pelee Island Winery has vineyards of approximately 550 acres on the Island and the Erie coast and opened the Pavilion on the Island in 1992.

Wine Tasting at Pelee Island Winery: The Pavilion at Pelee Island Winery offers free wine tastings (up to three wines) or, for only $5, you can go on a brief tour and taste 5 wines.  The Pelee Island Winery's Pavilion appears to be a special meeting place on the island.  On the weekends there is live music in the afternoon and the residents of the Island (only about 350 year round residents but over 1000 in the summer months) and local businesses often hold meetings at the Pavilion. They have an area where you can grill your own food and enjoy your meal with a bottle of Pelee Island Winery wine at retail prices. When my friend joined me on the Island we cycled in the heat and then enjoyed a bottle of Alvar Chardonnay Gerwurtztraminer (an interesting but not spectacular blend) with our own selection of cheeses at one of the picnic tables outside the Pavilion. During my various tastings I was pleasantly surprised by a number of their wines, most notably: 2008 Pinot Gris, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Vinedresser, 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon - Petit Verdot, and the Cabernet Franc Icewine.  We also enjoyed a bottle of nicely chilled Pelee Pink, a slightly sweet rosé with a hint of burnt sugar and orange, with our spicy homemade pizza.  See

Outdoor adventure on the Island:  During my one week visit I complemented my wine tasting with various outdoor activities.  I cycled around the Island a number of times(there on bicycle rentals available near the ferry dock from Comfortech Bike Rentals), swam at the various sandy beaches scattered a long the shores, hiked the easy trail to Lighthouse Point, explored the shoreline and Fish Point Reserve and kayaked along the East Shore one evening, after the wind calmed down.  At the end of every day I was treated to a spectacular sunset from my shoreline deck.

Tips:  Book your travel on the ferry in advance (, especially if you want to take your car to the Island.  And stay for several days to experience the wine, nature and hospitality that the Island has to offer. See for links to accommodation and activities on the Island.