Autumn Getaway at Elmhirst
Autumn View of Rice Lake, Ontario from ELmhirst Resort
This blog has been silent for several months as we dealt with my convalescence from knee surgery coupled with the loss of two elderly much loved parents. Earlier this week, as I hobbled around with a cane and Colin grappled with the after affects of pneumonia, we decided we had to get away for a few days to start healing.
We wanted somewhere not too far away, on water, quiet and comfortable with food and housekeeping included. I’d heard about Elmhirst Resort in Keene, Peterborough County Ontario and checked out their website. Thirty-two housekeeping cabins, each with fireplaces, king size beds, double Jacuzzi, WiFi, a deck with barbecue, lawn furniture and its own private dock It has free access to canoes, kayaks, bicycles, miles of trails, indoor and outdoor pools, sauna and fitness centre. Also available – at a cost – float plane aerial tours of Rice Lake, power boat rental, horse back riding, spa treatments and guided wine tasting.
We packed the car with all the wrong clothes and a bottle of Creekside Syrah 2013 . We slowly meandered through the backroads of Hastings and Northumberland Counties enjoying the countryside and fall colours. We stopped in Warkworth, where The Village Pantry supplied us with delicious artisan cheese and crackers to go with our wine.
The trees had started to turn and were in that delightful early fall stage where splashes of red, orange and yellow glow through still green leaves, as if an artist had downed his brushes for the day but would return to add more colours over the coming weeks.
Elmhirst Resort is a property that has been in the Elmhirst family for four generations since 1906. It is 240 acres with a mile of shoreline on Rice Lake. It has everything you could possibly want in terms of comfort and convenience including a landing strip for small planes. The restaurant is excellent with a beautiful view of the lake Most of their food is sourced onsite from their large vegetable garden, their herd of Black Angus cattle, and their own free range ducks and chickens. The lake provides fresh fish. .The resort is pet friendly, so if you didn’t bring a pet, one of the Elmhirst cats or golden retrievers will be happy to stop by for a cuddle.
Our first night, we enjoyed the best steaks I’ve tasted for years at their Wild Blue Yonder pub and was delighted by their wine list almost entirely Ontario wines. Their wine by the glass menu which showcased old friends including my Creekside Syrah, Huff Estates Merlot, Trail Estate Rosé, Casa Dea’s Cuvée, Southbrook Cabernet Merlot, and wines I hadn’t tried from Peninsula Ridge and Megalomaniac. This is just the by the glass list, most Ontario restaurants don’t have this much local wine on their entire wine list.
The Elmhirst complete wine list included bottles from Norman Hardie, The Grange of Prince Edward, Closson Chase, Lacey Estates, Hidden Bench, Flat Rock Cellars, 2027 Vineyard, Kacaba, Big Head, Between the Lines, Ravine, Tawse and so many more of the leading names from Niagara and Prince Edward County. I was in heaven.
We spent the next day touring, there was so much nearby: ZimArt Gallery Lang Pioneer Village, Lakefield, Peterborough, Curve Lake Reserve with its wonderful Whetung Ojibwa Centre of native arts and crafts from across Canada, and the must-see picturesque Trent Severn Waterway community of Bobcaygeon. I am probably the only visitor who didn’t buy shoes at Begley’s.
We’d made an appointment with Greg Elmhirst, the resort’s General Manager for a tour of their Wine Cellar before dinner and a wine tasting. The wine cellar was converted from the basement of a building that is no longer there. Instead there are flag stone steps leading down into a door in the side of a hill. The tasting room has a large wooden table down the centre and shelves of wine around the walls, a caged- in area along one wall, holds the family’s private wine collection, the rest is all wines available through their restaurant.
Greg has one of those tasting kits full of small sample bottles of typical wine aromas: rose, cherry, hay, tobacco, figs, leather, toast etc. As we sampled some of his wines and tried to determine what were the aromas, flavours and notes, he handed around a series of little bottles to see if they would help us make a match. We tasted three lesser known Ontario wines Norman Hardie‘s Melon de Bourgogne, Big Head’s Sauvignon and Megalomaniac‘s 2010 Grounded Cabernet Merlot. Most of all, we talked about the Ontario wine community, great winery experiences and must try wines.
It was enough to make me decide I had to blog again. I’m starting to heal.
Elmhirst is a year round resort with a full winter program for both snowmobilers, cross country skiers, ice sailing as well as indoor arts activities. Megalomanic Winery is hosting a winemaker’s dinner on New Years Eve. Tempting..
2021 Update, I returned to Elmhirst in 2020 for a 2 day one night escape during a slight relaxing of the COVID restrictions. Sadly Oliver the cat has passed on, but there are still two very friendly golden retrievers who are also honorary concierges.
Elmhirst has remained open most of the past year having implemented strict COVID protocols .The fact that its lodging are separate cottages allows guests to stay apart from other people and still enjoy the facilities. We enjoyed drinks on their spacious patio. We had a delicious dinner in their nearly empty dining room. and again enjoyed a delightful breakfast with many of their breakfast buffet favourites being choices on a prix fixé three course menu. We also enjoyed a 15 minute scenic flight over Rice Lake.
It was a highlight of our summer and so we put down a deposit on a cottage for a week in July for 2021 with the grandkids.