We boarded the ferry in the middle of the afternoon on a late summer day in early September. We were lucky enough to get our car on what could have quite possibly been a packed ferry (this time of year sees a lot of winery machinery, that is needed to harvest the grapes, making the trek across); but lucky for us the grapes weren’t quite ready to be picked yet. So the winery cancelled their spots, making room for us. The ferry ride itself is about and hour and a half, and we sat on deck where the sun beat down on us and the largest flock of seagulls I have ever seen followed us at least half the way there.
We were greeted by Melissa inside the Pavilion, but before that we were greeted by some lush greenery and beautiful flora (unfortunately the visit did not provide much in the way of fauna) in the way of flowering plants, roses and bushes. The gardens at the pavilion are exquisite, and as you make your way to the front of the building you’ll see rows of grapes, clearly labeled, showing you the different varieties growing on the island: Riesling, Gerwurztraminer, and Chardonnay to Gamay Noir, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. It’s interesting to see and touch the grapes that go into your favourite wine.
The Pavilion is a large open concept building – so you are walking into one large room, but there are a number of sections you can visit within. The tasting bar and wine shop are to your right and there are a variety of museum pieces about the place (most to your left) that chart the history of not just the Pelee Island Winery, but also winemaking in the area. Walking around was informative and enjoyable.
If you feel like lunch, take a break in the Pavilion’s back gardens and picnic area. Your meal is grilled up to your specifications, because you become the grill-master. In the courtyard there are a number of tables and BBQs. There are two stations clearly marked that you can visit: The “Deli Hut” – where you pick out your meats and cheeses to grill, your sides and your drinks; then it’s off to the “BBQ Hut” – where you take over one of the many grills that reside at the end of the courtyard. It’s a wonderful concept and a novel concept for guests to make their own lunch. When I asked Melissa why they organized it this way she said, “there’s not much else to do on the island, so you’d better learn to slow down – you’ve got lots of time.” Unless of course you’re trying to catch your ferry back to civilization.
I would recommend picking up a bottle of wine to enjoy with you meal. Currently the ‘05 Franc is a personal favourite. Grab some meat and kick back for a bit, it’s a nice way to get away from it all and surround yourself in a blanket of restfulness – too much of this would drive me to drink, but then again I would be in the right place for that too.