Pelee Island, Your Adventure Awaits
Pelee, I told you I’d be back, and I brought my man. A romantic getaway destination and a new season, this trip to Pelee Island was next level and actually began on the mainland in Kingsville.
As a lover of the island, I was very intrigued to see what the mainland winery had in store for us on a sunny Tuesday afternoon. Entering Pelee Island Winery, we were greeted by virtually every staff member that passed us, easy hellos and genuine care extended to each incoming customer or visitor. Even the mainland here runs on a different vibe to that of which I’m used to — and I absolutely love it.
We had the incredible opportunity to tour the facility in it’s entirety, guided by none other than WineMaker himself, Martin Janz, who was full of knowledge and passion. There was never a dull moment as we were led through the wine making process, and taught the ins and outs of creating a beautiful, carefully crafted, bottle of VQA level wine.
From the initial harvest to trusting the palette in the last weeks of the fermentation, I was blown away by how much work actually goes into a single glass. It’s pure inspiration seeing the entire staff at work here, and I was left in awe of the dedication and pride that was so apparent.
Literally nothing gets by these men and women, but that doesn’t mean there’s no time for fun. These employees love their work, and love each other. I was made to feel so welcome and to be honest, I felt like Pat and I were apart of the family that is Pelee Island Winery by the time we left. There’s a reason that I’ve always reached for a bottle of Pelee Island throughout my years of wine drinking, it’s familiar, it’s nostalgic, its beautifully balanced, and it’s filled with memories.
“Each sip of wine is as unique to each person, as each memory is to them.”
When we were doing a tasting, I was presented with a thought provoking sentiment by Sue Rice, one of the team members behind Pelee’s marketing. The best time to drink your wine, the best food to pair with it, the best place to bring it, is whatever that looks like, feels like, smells, like to you . Each sip of wine is as unique to each person, as each memory is to them. I kept that thought there as I sipped and savored, and I was overcome with raw inspiration for each and every wine.
After our time at the winery, we headed out to dinner at Jack’s Gastropub, which is a stone’s throw from mainstreet. We couldn’t miss the restaurant if we tried, the wrap around patio lit with soft lights, and laughter floating through the open air. This was definitely a gathering place and it showed. Patrons were greeted by first name by the staff, and new comers were welcomed with open arms. I think that’s the biggest impact Kingsville had on me during this trip, the level of warmth and welcome that was extended to every person that passes through the town, its a beautiful thing.
A high top table on the porch, a menu that you could seemingly close your eyes and point, and still end up loving your meal, and a couple of drinks. Life was good. My intolerances were more than accomodated as I opted for their Greek lamb burger wrapped in naan bread and a gorgeous fresh slaw on the side, while Pat was equally ecstatic about his burger special of the day and side fries so crispy yet fluffy, that even I couldn’t help but sneak a few (intolerance be damned).
Hearty portions, wonderful pairings, and impeccable service, the only downfall was that we were too full to try the entire menu! Don’t worry though, that burger was well worth the 4 hour drive, so we’ll definitely be back.
A meal like that had us looking for an early bedtime, and our suite at Inn15 had the most comfortable bed and pillows I had ever slept on in a hotel. The handmade sock monkeys, multiple throw blankets, and extra pillows made for the coziest evening in. Super high speed internet made me a very happy boss babe as it allowed me to still get a tiny bit of work done before entering the break from service that awaited me on the island. To read more about our time at Inn15, check out my post Kingsville On Tap.
In true Angie style, I was up bright and early, the next day. I will tell you, there is nothing quite like the nerves you get around catching a ferry! I have been nervous for catching planes before but honestly that hustle for a ferry is real! Since we wanted to leave a little bit of buffer room, we grabbed a quick bite, before most places were even open. We managed to secure an incredible breakfast at Vern’s before heading to catch the ferry. Pat had a gooey lobster omelette, and I indulged in a classic corned beef hash. Prices were more than reasonable, the food yummy, and the coffee was endless. Exactly what we needed after a long day of drinking the day before.
The ferry to the island is an easy 22 - 23 kms and the crew runs the ship like the well oiled machine that she is. A smooth 90 minutes flew by, and the last couple of kilometers across Lake Erie left me feeling like I was coming home. The minute we drove off that boat, I knew that’s exactly what was happening.
This time though, I was on a mission to explore every edge of the island, and although I didn’t uncover it all, we braved the bugs and water snakes, and managed to make it out to the original lighthouse. Built in 1833, the lighthouse was restored to it’s breathtaking glory several years ago.
It was magical. It was mystical. It was Pelee. Though it’s not fully functioning anymore, it’s a definite sight to behold. We, luckily enough, were able to enjoy some lighthouse wine under the lighthouse, and it was as though we were taken back in time, pulled to a paradise island, and it was just us.
“You can check out anytime you’d like, but you can never leave …”
My mission complete, and a long 36 hours previous, left us desperate to completely unwind, and in typical Pelee Island fashion, that was exactly what we were given. A relaxing nap in the hammock at the Wandering Dog Inn, and a snuggle with my man, I was in heaven.
That’s something that I love most about the Wandering Dog actually, the way it just makes you take a step back, and enjoy the little moments.
Whether that’s in the hammocks, on the adorable and spacious enclosed veranda, or in your cozy room, your left to your own devices, and with a lack of service and internet, you’re able to just be.
We missed Kathy this go round, but Kevin was in all his hysterical glory as he served up an incredible breakfast for us guests, and made sure everyone was comfortable and taken care of.
The handsome Fred was in fine form, as he supervised the makings of the evening campfire, what a good boy! He’s quite the character, and honestly reminded me of my own babe Cooper who passed the previous year.
The Wandering Dog for me is the type of place that you can check out anytime you’d like but you can never leave. Once you’ve stayed there, you keep going back. It’s inevitable. You’re always remembered, and you always have a great time, leaving you remiss to say a full goodbye.
For those that don’t necessarily have the flexibility to travel on weekdays etc, I highly recommend booking your accommodations well in advance on the island as they do get quite full during the spring - fall. To book your stay at the Wandering Dog Inn, click here.
For a list of other possible accommodations on the island, check out the link here.
It was a completely different side to the island this go around, not only was the change of season a breath of fresh air but this was no longer a friends trip but a romantic getaway. It was dreamy, lazy, and slow, we loved it.
My own parents actually traveled to Pelee Island the week before Pat and I arrived, they were celebrating their anniversary and decided to make the trip to Pelee as they’ve been wanting to go for over a decade now.
When they got back home, we sat down over several glasses of wine and delved into the details of their trip. They had a beautiful time and the people they met stuck with them, they made powerful impacts.
“…when the wine is still flowing, the relationships blossoming, that you can truly see the raw beauty that pulls people into the heart of the island.”
The Pelee Island Pavillion is so different in the low season, it’s quiet, more intimate, you have the time to make those connections, to savor it like a cab franc on a cool day. There’s something about a dreary day, a bottle of wine, and a grilled lunch shared amongst friends that speaks to my soul. Motown plays in the background as conversation flows around us from strangers and loved ones alike. There are no boundaries here, you just connect.
It’s in the quiet of the afternoons, when the wine is still flowing, the relationships blossoming, that you can truly see the raw beauty that pulls people into the heart of the island. We meet the young people that chose to not leave after peak season, the ones that couldn’t say goodbye to the island, that are nurtured by its gentle but steady heartbeat. It takes a certain type of person to live here, and that person is one you need in your life.
“The island offers you a glimpse of it’s many different sides, and it’s ever changing beauty. “
I was gifted with the opportunity to visit the Mission Hall sanctuary.
For me it was like sitting in front of the hearth of a home. My spirit connected with the island here, and it lingered with me. The Mission Hall project represents the true essence of Pelee where religion, birthplace, age, experience, none of it matters. You are here. And that’s that.
The Mission Hall is a passion project and one that sought to restore the natural beauty and energy of the original church that was located on Henderson Rd. This smaller scaled artistic interpretation of the church is hauntingly peaceful and serene. A must visit for anyone on the island.
It’s complexity is captivating here, as the island offers you a glimpse of it’s many different faces, and it’s ever changing beauty. No matter when you visit, there is something new for you to see, to feel, and experience.
On our final day on the island, we awoke early once more to make the trip back home. As we were loading up the car, Pat asked if I wanted to watch the sunrise before we left for the ferry, because that’s the kind of man I have in my life.
We strolled down to the inlet at the bottom of the road and as the high tide crashed against the beach, it was like nothing I’d ever seen before. We sat in quiet awe of nature’s beauty, of her wrath. I thought the sunset’s on Pelee were magic but the sun rises are pure creation. Living, breathing art. It was a moment that I will take with me always.
Though the drive to the ferry, and the ride itself was bitter sweet, we kept with us the quiet bliss of the island. However, this time instead of feeling as though I was leaving a piece of me behind, I felt as if I was taking a piece of the island with me. For the island and the people on it stay with you, in your memory, in your stories, in your heart.
I’ll see you again soon Pelee.