\u201cWhat's it like growing grapes in Siberia?\u201d\r\n\r\nThat was the joke put to Caroline Granger when she began to plant vines on her family farm in Canada\u2019s Prince Edward County. Located on Lake Ontario's northern shore, the region is a relative newcomer to the cultivation of wine grapes. Granger and others carried out their first plantings nearly two decades ago.\r\n\r\nTo be sure, the winters can be harsh here. Each year, most wineries bury their vines painstakingly by hand, one-by-one. But the soil, with its limestone substrate, is similar to that of Burgundy, and usually, the lake moderates the climate enough to ensure harvest.\r\n\r\nRelatively unknown outside Canada, \u201cthe County,\u201d as it's called north of the border, has long attracted weekenders from Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa. It boasts historic towns, rolling hills and 500 miles of shoreline. But wine's arrival has quickened the bucolic region's pulse.\r\n\r\nVisitors tour and taste at its 40-plus wineries, dine at restaurants pairing locally sourced foods with wine and stay in one of three new hotels that inhabit renovated old buildings. One, The June Motel, is a reimagined roadside motel primped up with pink paint and tropical-themed wallpapers. Corkscrews in the rooms bear witness to rise of wine tourism in the area.\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Wineries to Visit\r\nGrange of Prince Edward Winery\r\nGranger transformed her family's barn, built in 1826, into a tasting room for this winery near Hillier, which she runs with her daughter, Maggie Belcastro. A single mother with three kids at the time, Granger convinced her father, a cattle farmer who also grew a few crops, to let her try to grow grapes.\r\n\r\n\u201cHe might have thought I was crazy, but he let me try it,\u201d she says.\r\n\r\nAfter she took a winemaking course at a nearby college, Granger planted Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gamay, cold-tolerant grapes that thrive in Burgundian-type soil. She then moved on to Riesling, Pinot Gris and Cabernet Franc. Granger now has 60 acres under vine that produce sparkling and still wines along with a farmhouse cider, a production mix that\u2019s typical for the region.\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Old Third\r\nBruno Fran\u00e7ois and Jens Korberg, proprietors of The Old Third and former Torontonians, converted an old barn into an airy tasting room. There, they serve offerings like unoaked Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Noir Blanc and cider made from Golden Russet apples. Some proceeds from every bottle of Chardonnay are donated to the hospital that has been treating Fran\u00e7ois for a brain tumor.\r\n\r\n\u201cI'm responding well to the treatment, but it gives you a longer view; this was what we wanted, how we wanted to live here,\u201d says Fran\u00e7ois.\r\n\r\n\r\nHinterland Wine Company\r\nLocated near Hillier, Hinterland Wine Company specializes in sparkling wine and was launched by transplanted Toronto couple, Jonas Newman and Vicki Samaras. Newman was a former ma\u00eetre d\u2019 at one of that city's top restaurants, while Samaras was a botanist.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe married our skill sets, our different networks, in this project,\u201d says Samaras. \u201cI'm more science, he's more art.\u201d\r\n\r\nThey employ the three main methods to make sparkling: the traditional method for the Les Etoiles bottling made mostly from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the Charmat method for the Borealis Charmat Ros\u00e9 made from Gamay in on-site tanks, and m\u00e9thode ancestrale for the Lacus P\u00e9tillant Naturel, also derived from Gamay. During the summer months, lunch can be had from on-site food trucks.\r\n\r\n\r\nRosehall Run Vineyards\r\nThis 150-acre estate is a short drive from Hillier, along the Loyalist Parkway named for the county's first settlers, American colonists loyal to the crown who moved north after the Revolutionary War.\r\n\r\nThe winemaker, Dan Sullivan, is a self-described serial entrepreneur. He learned his craft in a group of like-minded amateurs that made wine with juice from Ontario's better-known wine region, Niagara.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhen we got here, in the \u201990s, local winemaking was in its infancy,\u201d says Sullivan. \u201cWe tested the soil. [We] couldn't believe how right it was. Chardonnay loves it here.\u201d\r\n\r\nHis 2013 JCR Chardonnay is the rare Prince Edward County wine to have won international recognition. It won silver medals at the Chardonnay-du-Monde and the Decanter World Wine competitions.\r\n\r\n\r\nLong Dog Vineyard & Winery\r\nMost Prince Edward County winemakers choose sites at its western end, near Hillier. However, James Lahti and Victoria Rose\u2019s over 20-acre Long Dog Winery sits in splendid isolation on its most southern peninsula. Getting away from it all was a goal for Lahti, a renowned IMAX film editor.\r\n\r\n\u201cI was an angry man in Toronto,\u201d says Lahti. \u201cI had to get out. It was just becoming possible [in the \u201990s] with the software and the [internet] to edit video remotely. We saw the place, and we jumped at it.\u201d\r\n\r\nAlthough the vines have had some tough winters, he didn't cover them with earth one recent year, and they survived. \u201cWe've got the lake on all sides of us, so that helps,\u201d he says.\r\n\r\nThe winery is named for their deceased dachshund, Otto. Its tasting rooms house the dog's successors, Fern and Flora, who poke about as visitors sip samples of the estate-produced Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir.\r\n\r\nLahti seems proudest of his fruit-forward Pinot Noir. \u201cOur vines have been [planted for] two decades and are just now entering the prime years for Pinot [Noir].\u201d\r\n\r\n\r\nCounty Cider Company\r\nLong before grapes were grown here, Prince Edward County was apple country. Located in Waupoos, at the eastern end of the county, the County Cider Company uses fruit from an orchard planted in 1850 to make its ciders.\r\n\r\nThe founder, Grant Howes, was known as the grandfather of the Ontario cider industry. Its restaurant overlooks Prince Edward Bay and offers simple food like lamb burgers and cheese plates, all designed to complement the tartness of its ciders.\r\n\r\n\r\nWhere to Sample Prince Edward County Wine\r\nSophisticated fare can be enjoyed at the Drake Devonshire, attached to the hip Drake hotel in the quaint, historic lakeside town of Wellington. In a glass-windowed dining room suspended over the lake, Executive Chef Alexandra Feswick offers a seasonal menu with roots in both town and country. An Ontario perch is served with edamame and lotos root, while a locally raised lamb shoulder is accented with smoky yogurt and housemade harissa.\r\n\r\nThe wines feature both top international bottles and local labels. Recent regional options include a Pinot Gris from the Grange, a Pinot Noir from Long Dog, a pair of Chardonnays from Rosehall Run and a sparkling Gamay from Hinterland.