Summer is over. Officially over.
It’s also the start of Dave’s favourite time of year. As a ginger he loves sweater weather and can’t stand summer rays beating down on him but he loves the golden sun and autumn colors, professing that shorts + hoodie weather is the best ever.
I’m not so convinced.
I grew up like the Coppertone baby, spending summers at the beach and lathering baby oil on my skin to tan before I realized that was the fast track to skin cancer.
But I do love when leaves change to autumn colors, giving us an excuse to take a road trip. Last week I drove a few hours north of Toronto to spend a few days in Grey County and wasn’t surprised there was so much to do there in the autumn.
While most Torontonians flock East to Prince Edward County on the weekends, Grey County is just as close and tourism isn’t as slick, which is exactly how I like it.
Perhaps one of Canada’s most epic dining scenes is in Grey County. Eigensinn Farm is run by Chef Michael Stadtländer and his Nobuyo. While Stadtländer was once a prolific chef in Toronto he wanted to return to his roots, he grew up on a farm in Northern Germany and Nobuyo on a small island in Okinawa, Japan.
I toured the farm with Stadtländer and he shared that this was what he imagined Canada to be when he decided to move here from Germany. He’s known for epic dining experiences and a pioneer of the farm to table movement.
Clearly inspired by the land he has so many plans for events in the future but this weekend is holding a harvest music event when you spend the day eating and listening to some of Canada’s top classical and jazz artists. If you’re keen to do it he’s allowing people to camp overnight as well.
Luckily enough Grey County Tourism is running a Fall Colour Tour Contest and one of the prizes is dinner for two at Eigensinn Farm.
Where to Eat in Grey County
Bruce Wine Bar in Thornbury
Chef Shaun Edmonstone really takes advantage of Grey County’s agricultural prowess. His menu features Grey County farmers and changes with the season.
Mill Café, Thornbury
A casual cafe, eat lunch on the patio alongside the Beaver River. Salmon migrate up river in autumn and you can see some of the salmon jumping.
Northwinds Brew House & Eatery, Collingwood
With big box restaurant franchises taking over Ontario this is my top pick for casual eating near the Blue Mountains in Collingwood. With a long list of micro brewed beer and locally inspired menu, it’s an easy night out.
The Falls Inn, Walter’s Falls
A bit more formal, the hotel is part of the Ontario’s Finest Inns network, if the weather is warm ask for a table at the patio and diner beside Walter’s Falls.
Milkmaid Cheese and Fine Foods
Owned by a massage therapist who loves cheese, this space has quickly becoming more of a cafe. With a chalkboard menu changing daily you can shop while you wait. Don’t miss Grey County’s Meredith’s Ginger Syrup which locals adamantly profess is needed to survive cold and flu season.
Where to Drink in Grey County
Georgian Hills Vineyards
Producing cool climate wines with amazing clarity and an absence of colour, Georgian Hills is serious but not pretentious. Also check out the cider and Baked Apple Frozen to the Core with a tart finish.
Coffin Ridge Winery
Grey County’s first winery, Coffin Ridge small batch wine. While the grounds are gorgeous, there’s an underlying quirky sense of humor with its play on its namesake geography of Coffin Ridge that is found throughout the design sensibility to the names of their wine: Into The Light White, Back From The Dead Red and Resurrection Rose.
Beaver Valley Cidery and Orchard
Grey County was once full of cider but with Grey County was once a huge producer of cider but prohibition changed all that. Now small producers like Beaver Valley and Duxbury Cider are bringing back the tradition.
The retrofitted barn is gorgeous and while the flagship cider is great I loved the Ginger Cider.
Hang Out in Nature
Grey County is beautiful but truth be told I’m a soft adventurer, really really soft. There are plenty of great outdoor activities in Grey County but I can only vouch for these two – which of course are food related.
Kickin Back Alpaca Ranch
Alpaca meat is delicious. At least that’s what I remember from Perú. While I was excited to bring some home I quickly discovered that in Canada they are used for their wool which is warmer than sheep, so soft and hypoallergenic.
These animals are adorable, shy but also curious. If you need time to digest between meals you can take a tour for $20 and hang out with animals for the afternoon.
Owen Sound Salmon Tour
A romantic story of salmon swimming upstream only to lay eggs and subsequently die. One of the few places you can see this, the rivers are full of fish jumping up through
This is a great for everyone because you can see a little bit of it at one of the bridges in town or make an afternoon of it cycling, paddling or even driving the route from the Sydenham River up through Inglis Falls – which makes for an idyllic instagram.
While it’s often promoted as a family destination. There’s a U-Pick orchard, golf and who doesn’t want to make their own caramel apple?
Where to Stay in Grey County?
Grey County deserves at least one night away, there are plenty of budget options but I really liked these options which have a bit more character.
Pretty River Valley Country Inn
I stayed here last autumn. Here’s a tip that I learned the hard way. The reindeer are pets NOT food! I loved eating reindeer in Finland and thought the inn was also a working farm but my hosts had a horrified look on their face when I asked.
The Ben Nevis Croft room is amazing, I’d love to return and for some light hiking and just hang out here all night.
MacLean Estate Bed and Breakfast
If you’d prefer to stay in Owen Sound this is your best bet. The house is over 100 years old but newly renovated with all the modern amenities include a charging centre and iPhone alarm.. The owner once lived in my neighborhood in Toronto so we bonded over how it’s becoming gentrified. If you’re hesitant to stay in a B&B get the Dr. J.A. Hershey King Turret Room which has a private ensuite bath.
And please stay for breakfast. Jamie serves an amazing breakfast but come hungry!
This post was a partnership with Grey County, Dave and I are such huge proponents of the region I feel like we’re unofficial ambassadors. Check out the fall colour tour contest with opportunities to win a number of great experiences including accommodation at a number of hotels, dinner at Michael Stadtlander’s Eigensinn Farm and making your own cider at Beaver Valley Cidery.