If you are anything like me, it’s hard to turn your brain off from work. I have to escape physically, mentally or a mixture of the two. A week ago Sunday turned out to be a beautiful sunny but blustery day and my day off. The perfect day for escapism, so when Sarah suggested a wee road trip to a local winery called Avondale Sky and by passing a small cafe that supposedly sold the world’s best peanut butter pie, well who was I to refuse such an offer.
Turning off exit at four on the 101 it’s a beautiful drive through farms and old country homes with sweeping verandahs out front and picturesque red barns out back. Avondale Sky is along the Gloosecap Trail which starts just before Windsor. It isn’t greatly sign posted though and we did get a bit side tracked at one point. The winery and its vineyards are situated on rolling hills across from a quaint church about a two minute drive from the Avon River. The main winery is housed in a beautiful heritage listed renovated wooden church from 1844 that was bought by the two owners, Stewart Creaser and Lorraine Vassalo, for less than $2 from the town of Walton as it was going to be used by the fire department for a burning exercise. They floated it down the the river and pulled it up the hill to where it stands to day with as much of the original woodwork, doors and windows as possible. Even the old donation box still has a home.
We arrived just in time to join in on a guided tour of the vineyard. As she took us through their vines, I couldn’t help but be brought back to the time I spent table grape farming in Mildura and wonder about the similarities and the hard work which goes into cultivating grape vines. Our guide was so knowledgeable and so obviously enthusiastic about her job it was infectious! She told us how Avondale Sky had some of the oldest vines in the area although that only meant 10-30 years depending on the variety and explained the different wines and processes that they go through for each. This of course led to the necessity of doing a tasting and for $5 to taste five wines and get told about each, how could one not. Not to mention if you end up buying two bottles of wine after the tasting, the fee is wavered.
We were given a list of their wines and then asked if we preferred sweeter or dryer. Sarah went for the dryer option and I went for the sweeter. It couldn’t have worked out better if we had planned it. In the end we both tried about 10 wines, each sampling the others if they hadn’t tried it before. I started with their Rosé, the Lady Slipper. She told us that in their restaurant it’s used to make a summer spritzer. With its light summer taste it would be absolutely perfect for it. The middle three white wines that I tried were my favourite. There was Bliss, made with Geisenheim grapes, really very sweet but has a nice little fizz that tickles your tongue. To sip a glass on a summers eve as a dessert option without it being a dessert wine. Perfection. The next two are tied in my books and I wanted to bring one home with me but of course I took forever to decide. The first was their 2015 Tidal Bay which we were informed won the gold medal for best in it’s class this year and has pretty much already sold out. The second was the Cheverie. Also white and on the sweeter edge of things but not as sweet as the Tidal Bay. A little lighter citrus and floral taste. I remember being instantly drawn in by the aroma coming from my glass. We finished the tasting and wandered around the room taking in all of the local paintings on display while I made up my mind. In the end I landed on the Cheverie but am sure I will be purchasing their Tidal Bay from a local NSLC before too long.
Our next stop on the road trip was for Peanut Butter Pie from a little cafe in downtown Windsor called Lisa’s Cafe. It’s about as Nova Scotian as you can get. It even had liver and onions on the menu and a peanut butter sandwich for the wee one if their so inclined. Walking in its clear that it’s a local favourite with most of the tables occupied and everyone looking up to see if they know who you are. The place may require a bit of colour thrown into the earth toned decor but it’s charming, clean and after eating there I can definitely state why it’s a local favourite and Sarah raved about the pies. I started off with a grilled chicken and spinach salad with homemade dressing. It was fresh, flavourful and the right size if one was going to devour a slice of pie afterwards. I of course ordered their Peanut Butter Pie which is akin to a peanut butter cheesecake with an Oreo crust but I have never had a peanut butter pie before so perhaps they are all like that. It came with whip cream and caramel drizzled over the top. Rich, creamy, and somehow very light it almost melted in your mouth. It was devilish and divine at the same time.
It was time to head towards home but we had enough time for a quick pit stop at the Mount Uniacke Estate and Park ; a very haunted old estate which you can go through with a network of walking trails around the grounds. We only had about half an hour to spare so we did a quick take in of the area closed to the estate. I will definitely be going back to explore the manor. The half hour flew and before I knew it we were back on the highway to reality after a perfect day of relaxation. The opportunity to visit and try some lovely Nova Scotian wine, try my first ever peanut butter pie and find a new place for a walk, picnic and a ghost story or two.