I grew up in an apple valley in Nova Scotia. Apples are intertwined with so many childhood memories; my grandmother made a great apple pie, the biggest festival of the year celebrated the apple blossoms and while I never picked apples it was the best location for underage drinking.
Just a couple hours north of Toronto is another large apple region, Blue Mountains in Grey County is most known for its great skiing but it’s also home to 75% of Ontario’s apples so when they invited me up to take a tour of the Apple Pie Trail I knew I needed to bring Dana from Well Preserved.
Have a look at the video we made while there:
Maybe it’s age. Maybe I’m wiser. But spending time in the country is more fun now than it was growing up. We left a day early to stay the night at the organic farmstead Pretty River Valley Country Inn.
I heard there were reindeer on site and I was so excited because I hadn’t eaten reindeer since Finland. Perhaps a bit too excited as my first question to our hosts was if we could eat the reindeer and I learned the animals were kept as pets. Oops.
Grey County is home to many kinds of apples but The Red Prince Apple is unique. It’s originally from Holland but the only region you can find it in North America is in Grey County. As a winter apple it’s available early into the New Year but it’s not easy to find as it’s very popular in the United States so much of it gets exported. If you like a tart, sweet apple pick up as much as you can.
Our first stop was Beaver Valley Cidery, a new cidery in the county run by a retired couple that didn’t want to slow down. Blending tradition with modern techniques, the main building next to the orchard is a retrofitted barn where you can learn about making cider and sample great local cheese.
But this isn’t any old cider, they have new flavours and are always experimenting, try the ginger cider – it is amazing.
Lunch at The Bruce Wine Bar
Thornbury is a different kind of town in Grey County, it seems to be a bit wealthier and a lot of people from Toronto are buying second homes here. It’s not surprising to see such a great restaurant in town, Chef Shaun Edmonstone creates great dishes using local farmers and suppliers. This is the place to eat in Grey County but it’s small so you consider making a reservation.
Afternoon Sweets at Farmer’s Pantry
This is great for families as there is a u-pick apple orchard, petting zoo and even mini-golf. Dana and I arrived in the rain and I was happy we were asked if we wanted to make caramel apples instead of picking them.
This place is heaven for kids, but if you can shed your adult sensibilities for just a moment it’s a great place for everyone to get a little silly.
Dinner at Northwinds Brewhouse
One of the most exciting changes in Ontario as a whole is the growth of the craft beer scene. While there are no apple pie trail beers here, this is a great place to visit in the ski town of Collingwood. You can sample more than 5 types of micro brewed beer and there’s plenty of food to go along with it.
This is just a fraction of what you can do on the Blue Mountains Apple Pie Trail, if you like to work off your pie before you eat it there are plenty of trails and outdoor adventure activities as well. And they just launched an app so you can see what’s close by – check it all out here.