Saints & Sinners Trail: Grey County Beer Cider and Wine

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While some people love to hike mountains, I would rather stay at the bottom of the hill with a glass of wine. So the Saints and Sinners Trail in Grey County is my kind of trail as it features local beer, cider and wine.

Where is Grey County?

I’m always shocked when people ask me about what to do in Grey County and if they can make a weekend of it.

There is so much to do!

I love how Grey County is only a few hours from Toronto and you can avoid the crowds. But it’s also an agricultural area so there are lots of incredible local food and drink and at a fraction of the price for what you’d get in Toronto.
 
 

 

 
 

Saints and Sinners in Grey County features local beer, wine and cider.

Grey County Saints and Sinners Trail

Grey County is home to many award-winning craft wine, beer and cider producers. Some are in the LCBO but for many you need to head north to taste their product.

The trail is named after the region’s clandestine heritage of bootlegging during Prohibition. In fact, Owen Sound was the last city in Canada to end Prohibition and that wasn’t until 1972 and many wanted to keep it.

But today Grey County is home to locally grown apples, grapes and hops, and is producing incredible beverages. There are 26 local producers on the Saints and Sinners trail.
 
 

 

 
 
Cider from the Saints and Sinners trail in Grey County Ontario.

Grey County Cideries

European settlers brought apples to Canada and Grey County has a long history of cider making, with a brief hiatus during Prohibition.

Grey County is home to many kinds of apples and has its own Apple Pie Trail. And while it’s common to find 18 different varieties of apples here 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.
 
 

 

 
 
Windswept cider facility on the Grey County Saints and Sinners trail in Ontario.

Windswept Cider

This was one of the most inspiring stops of Grey County’s Saints and Sinners Trail and they aren’t technically on the trail yet.

Husband and wife team Marc and Courtney Skinner have an extensive background in food and drink. They both went to culinary school and wanted to one day have a farm to raise their children.

But today the family lives on an orchard and works with other local farmers. Their approach to cider is different, and frankly much more difficult, than most cideries, for two reasons

  1. They rescue apples on “lost orchards,” which are basically orchards that have been abandoned because they weren’t producing enough to make money. These trees have fewer apples, which means each apple has better quality juice.
  2. They approach cider like wine, make single varietal cider and are curious about terroir and how an apple varietal from one orchard in Grey County may taste different from another.

A small producer making award-winning cider, they are a refreshing producer focusing on quality rather than quantity. Although you can only visit now by appointment, they are opening a public area in the spring.

Windswept Cider
317282 3 Line, Meaford
 
 

 

 
 
Cider on the Saints and Sinners trail in Grey County Ontario.

Thornbury Village Ciderhouse

Although Thornbury is the top-selling cider in the LCBO, this should not deter you from visiting the tasting room as there are small batch options that you cannot find anywhere else. Often they are experiments that may later appear so you get a preview.

Owned by local winery Colio, Thornbury also has its beer on site so you can choose from beer, wine and cider…or all three.

Cider is on the sweeter side so a tasting is a perfect way to decide which one is right for you. Also the tasting room offers signature pints such as Blue Blood, which is half Wild Blueberry and Elderflower and Blood Orange or the Blushing Bride, which is half Blood Orange and half Cranberry.

Tours are available for $5 on the weekends, it’s best to call ahead. I arrived five minutes after it opened last Saturday morning and there were already 15-20 people inside.

Thornbury Village Ciderhouse
90 King St E, Thornbury
 
 

 

 
 

Beaver Valley Cider is part of the Saints and Sinners Trail in Grey County featuring craft beer, cider and wine.

Beaver Valley Cidery

A beautiful orchard on the Niagara Escarpment, Beaver Valley focuses on heritage varieties of apple to make berry-apple and ginger-apple blends. The retrofitted barn is gorgeous and while the flagship cider is great I loved the Ginger Cider.

There are free tours Sunday at noon, and you can sample five of their ciders. Unfortunately, not the Ice Cider, which is similar to ice wine, as it’s made in such small quantities but I can vouch that it’s worth the leap of faith.

Beaver Valley Cidery
235853 Kimberley, Grey County
 
 

 

 
 
Duxbury Cider is part of the Saints and Sinners Trail in Grey County featuring craft beer, cider and wine.

Duxbury Cider

Although there isn’t a tasting room for Duxbury Cider you can find this bold English-style small batch apple cider on tap at many of the restaurants in town.

 

Mudtown Station is a brewery on the Grey County Saints and Sinners Trail.
Mudtown Station in Owen Sound.

Grey County Breweries

Grey County is home to great breweries, many of them on the Ontario Brewery Discovery Route. These routes feature local producers, markets and restaurants serving fresh, local food.

 

Mudtown Station Brewery beer flight in Owen Sound on Grey County's Saints and Sinners Trail.

Mudtown Station Brewery and Restaurant

Mudtown Station was once one of the many rail stations in Canada that eventually was abandoned. Today this new restaurant and brewery is already a local favourite, with a patio packed with locals in warm weather.

Although the burger is one of the most popular items on the menu, it’s not a typical deep-fried pub menu.
There are plenty of interesting items like local whitefish cakes, pork terrine and herb falafel with beet hummus.
 

EASY RECIPE: Sriracha Hummus

 
Along with local beer, there are 6 Mudtown Station beers, if you can’t choose a flight is always a good option. In an industry where IPAs and hoppy beer thrives I was thrilled to see Brewmaster Morag Kloeze have a Nectarine Sour, Pale Ale and a Saison on the menu.

I highly recommend this stop, I love that the adjoining dining room still looks like a train station with vintage posters.

Mudtown Station Brewery
1198 1st Ave E, Owen Sound
 
 

 

 
 

Macleans Ale is part of the Saints and Sinners trail in Grey County with craft beer, wine and cider.

MacLean’s Ales

Located in Hanover, Maclean’s is a little bit different. There’s a sense of maturity here.

It wasn’t started by a group of young friends wanting to experiment in crazy new beer. It doesn’t have a million types of beer on tap. It’s run by someone with lots of experience and wants to do one thing well – ales.

Brewmaster Charles has been involved in brewing in some matter or another since 1978 when the visited England on holiday. Instead of returning, he bought a motorcycle and found a job at a brewpub.

He eventually returned to Canada with a love of English ales and was part of the movement to rally the government to break the monopolization of large breweries and to open the door for small businesses. He’s been involved with many well-known brands and eventually moved to Grey County to start his own.

It’s best to stop by and chat with him as some of the seasonals are only available on site at the brewery, including a scotch ale.

If you can corner Charles to talk it’s worthwhile. He doesn’t like to boast about what he’s achieved but prod him a bit and you’ll find he has some well thought out ideas on the future of brewing.

MacLean’s Ales
52 14th Ave, Hanover
 
 

 

 
 
Northwinds Brewery in Collingwood Ontario is on the Grey County Saints and Sinners Trail.

Northwinds Brewpub & Craft Beer Store

The second outpost for Northwinds, the first was in downtown Collingwood and their approach to globally inspired craft beer was so popular they opened a second location in Blue Mountain.

The decor is a bit more apres-ski themed but the great food and beer remain the same. Although one of the most popular plates is the Mexican chicken burger I was so intrigued by the Bacon Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese with crispy fried onion and maple tomato ketchup I couldn’t pass it up.

I made the right decision.

There is a lot of hearty pub food here. If you want to take beer to go they can add it to your bill and they’ll deliver it to your table. Now that’s service.

Northwinds Brewpub & Craft Beer Store
499 First Street (HWY 26)
 
 

 

 
 

The Roost Wine Company is on the Grey County Saints and Sinners trail.

Grey County Wineries

In Ontario it seems that many people know Prince Edward County wine or the region of Niagara well. But to avoid the crowds and taste fantastic wine, try Grey County.

 

Coffin Ridge winery tasting room is on the Saints and Sinners trail in Grey County Ontario

Coffin Ridge Winery

Named after its location on Coffin Ridge, which has a spooky history, this boutique winery has a bit of fun with its name. All of its wine and cider have cute names like Into the White Light and Resurrection.

I also think it produces great cider, my best advice is to skip the cans and look at the seasonal small batch jugs like holiday chai spice.

Coffin Ridge Winery
599448 Concession Rd 2 N, Annan
 
 

 

 
 

Georgian Hill Vineyards are on the Saints and Sinners Trail in Grey County featuring craft beer, wine and cider.

Georgian Hills Vineyards

Minutes from Blue Mountain Resort, Georgian Hills produces award-winning cool-climate wines including apple and pear dessert wines.

Georgian Hills Vineyards
496350 Grey County Rd 2, Clarksburg
 
 

 

 
 

Hoity Toity is on the Saints and Sinners Trail in Grey County, which features craft beer, wine and cider.

Hoity Toity Cellars

Not technically in Grey County but instead in Mildmay, which is on the border. There is an opportunity to taste Bruce County’s first winery/cidery, locally crafting award-winning beverages. Sheep

Hoity Toity Cellars
1723 ON-9, Mildmay

 

The Roost Wine Company on Grey County's Saints and Sinners Trail.

The Roost Wine Company

Owned by husband and wife, Michael and Jess Maish, this is a must-visit winery in Grey County. They left careers to study enology and viticulture all while raising a newborn. With help from winemakers in Ontario they started to plant vines on Jess’s mother’s land overlooking the gorgeous Georgian Bay.

This time I was lucky enough to spend time with Jess, a winemaker with such a great approach. They experiment with varieties like L’Acadie Blanc, Frontenac Blanc and lesser known German grapes.

I was surprised to see a dessert wine available this year, Jess explained that after breaking a measurement instrument she ended up with wine that was mistakenly too sweet. So she decided to change course and created something so good it would change the minds of anyone who said they didn’t like dessert wine.

Next season look for other innovations like a sparkling red.

A small operation, it’s worth dedicating an afternoon to the tasting room. Not only is it gorgeous, but The Roost Plate features Fromagerie Kapuskoise, a French-trained cheesemaker from Kapuskasing.

The Roost Wine Company
415763 10 Line, Clarksburg

Also Consider the Corkscrew City Tour

Owen Sound, once known as Corkscrew Town was Canada’s last dry city…technically. While you could not buy alcohol in town or drink it in restaurants, the city was far from dry.

Local historian Richard Thomas hosts a city-run town that partners with The Beer Bus, Roxy Theatre, and local breweries and museums. You learn a lot about the region’s history of Prohibition and Richard shares a lot of hilarious, local stories of how bootleggers thrived in a dry town.

Grey County Restaurants

Meatballs from Fabbrica in Thornbury Ontario

Fabbrica Thornbury

It may seem an odd second location for this Toronto eatery, but Chef Mark McEwan has a vacation home in Thornbury.

The menu has great pizza, pasta and other Italian options. I had the octopus with ceci bean and peperonata and it was cooked perfectly.

Fabbrica
27 Bruce St S, Thornbury

 

Other Great Restaurants in Grey County

I visited these restaurants in past visits

Haisai Restaurant

The Stadtländers are known for their epic Eigensinn Farm events. For those that cannot attend this small restaurant in Singhampton is a great experience. It is a rustic cabin dining room with Chef Stadtländer’s eclectic artwork throughout, and it is constantly evolving.

During the week lunch there are a variety of wood oven pizzas and local wine, cider and beer. One pizza easily feeds two people and the vegetarian pizza is the most popular as it uses ingredients often picked that morning from Eigensinn Farm.

Haisai Restaurant
794079 County Rd. 124 Singhampton
 
 

 

 
 
Caseros in Grey County is a fantastic place to eat, once a taco bus at Sauble Beach it's expanded to a bricks and mortar restaurant.

Casero Kitchen Table

Casero was once a taco bus at Sauble Beach and was so successful it expanded to include a bricks and mortar restaurant in Owen Sound.

I love that they know enough to double stack the taco shell but also innovate with awesome flavours and many vegetarian and vegan options like roasted beets – trust me if the beets are available you’ll love them.

Casero Kitchen Table
946 3rd Ave E, Owen Sound
 
 

 

 
 Bruce Wine Bar, visit this restaurant among others on an autumn color tour in Grey County.

Bruce Wine Bar

Chef Shaun Edmonstone really takes advantage of Grey County’s agricultural prowess. His menu features Grey County farmers and changes with the season.

It feels like a spot you’d find in Toronto, but with all the small town charm including an open kitchen where you can watch pizza make its way into the wood fired oven.

It’s a wine bar but the atmosphere is relaxed and food doesn’t play second fiddle.

Bruce Wine Bar
8 Bruce St S Thornbury

Mill Cafe

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.

Mill Café
12 Bridge St Thornbury
 
 

 

 
 Milk Maid Fine Foods and Cheese Shop, visit on an autumn color tour in Grey County.

Milk Maid Fine Cheese and Gourmet Foods

Milkmaid is owned by a massage therapist who loves cheese so much she opened a shop for locals.

Locals supported it but wanted more, so she added sell wine and food and it evolved into a fantastic campaign with a changing chalkboard menu.

Milk Maid Fine Cheese and Gourmet Foods
947 2nd Ave E, Owen Sound

 

Justin’s Oven

Justin’s Oven is a cozy restaurant with a menu that changes nightly. Thursday night is pub night and you’ll sit elbow to elbow with locals who want great, affordable food. Friday night Justin makes 120 pizzas in 3 hours, half of it is takeout as locals believe it’s the best pizza in the county. On Saturday is more formal and the weekend ends with brunch.

While many great restaurants in the region primarily serve visitors, Justin’s Oven is all about locals. It’s licensed or you can bring wine with a very reasonable $13 corkage fee. However, it is a very popular so you do need a reservation, although they try to accommodate drop-ins with outside seating.

Justin’s Oven
235304 Grey Road 13, Kimberley

 

Where to Stay in Grey County

Grey County is a great day trip from Toronto but it really deserves at least one night away, there are plenty of budget options but I really liked these options which have a bit more character.  Grey County has some really interesting options.

Woodland Retreat

I arrived just a week too late to stay in the yurt as it the cold wet weather meant I couldn’t enjoy the outdoor area with a kitchen, fire pit and hot outdoor shower.

But I stopped by anyway to meet Naomi the owner and check out the yurt. I love the idea of camping but I really don’t want to sleep on the ground.

Plus Naomi has a fascinating story, she is a jewelry designer (you can see her studio on site) and met her husband in Oaxaca – although I have no idea how they could possibly leave Oaxaca as the food is incredible.

But I’ll be back in the spring, this is such a unique experience I’ll return for this alone.

Woodland Retreat
245606 22nd Sideroad
 
 

 

 
 The Resting Place on Coffin Ridge Winery is part of the Saints and Sinners Trail in Grey County.

The Resting Place

Coffin Ridge Winery is one of the more remote wineries in Grey County. I’ve visited a few times over the years and it’s been fascinated to see it grow. I requested to stay the night as it’s a beautiful area.

There are three options: The Relic’s Room and The Widow’s Walk or The Writer’s Haunt. All are on the vineyard grounds so you can use the facilities or retreat back to the outdoor pool or hot tub. Also included is a complimentary tasting and Vintner’s Plate at the winery.

I loved my room, which looked out onto the vineyards and had a kitchenette and electric fireplace. It would be the perfect place for a romantic getaway for a few nights.

The Resting Place
599448 Concession Rd 2 N, Annan

 
 

 

 
 
Pretty Little River, stay here on an autumn color tour in Grey County.

Pretty River Valley Country Inn

I have stayed here twice and although it’s only a few hours away from Toronto it feels like another world.

The Ben Nevis Croft room is incredible but all of the studios are lovely and you cannot beat a fireplace. They prepare it so all you have to do is light a match.

They also have horses and reindeer on site. There are lots of hiking opportunities. However, this spot is very popular so make reservations well in advance.

Read Reviews on TripAdvisor or Check Room Rates on Expedia

Other Great Accommodation in Grey County

I didn’t stay here this weekend but I have stayed at these great Grey County hotels in the past.

The Ultimate Treehouse Experience

I’ve stayed in so many hotel rooms but this was my first treehouse, with stairs to climb up and a big orange slide to descend.

There is also a pool with a seated bar area that just makes you want to have a party. Or maybe just unwind because they are proud to share that the treehouse is an area where the wifi is weak but the drinks are strong.

First time AirBnB user?  Use this link for $45 off your AirBnB stay!

Treehouse + Cabin Rental
 
 

 

 
 Falls Inn, visit on an autumn color tour in Grey County.

The Falls Inn in Walter’s Falls

Grey County is known for its waterfalls and while a hike is fun, dinner with wine is even better! 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 dine beside Walter’s Falls.

Read Reviews on TripAdvisor 

The Falls Inn
Front St Walter’s Falls

Traveling From Toronto to Grey County

Grey County is only a couple of hours from Toronto. While the speed limit is 80km/h do not be tempted to speed. The Ontario Provincial Police patrol the routes and I always see at least one car caught speeding.

Grey County: Saints and Sinners Trail Map

Disclosure: This post about the Saints and Sinners Grey County trail was a paid partnership with Grey County. I have been coming here for years and this region is one of my favourites in Toronto, I’m thrilled to work with destinations that I already know I love.

 

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The Saints and Sinners tour in Grey County features local craft beer, wine and cider.

Join the Conversation

  1. How has Grey County never been on my radar? I’m so sad I didn’t know about this area when I lived in Toronto! Adding to the bucket list!!

  2. Sounds like such a fun spot to check out, there’s so many great little places. Going to have to add this to my travel list.

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