Nestled on the shores of Lake Ontario, Prince Edward County is one of Canada’s newest wine regions. Known as the “County” it is a beautiful region with gently rolling hills, abundant beaches and quaint villages and towns. My colleagues, Jim Harrison and Gary Furlong and their families have enjoyed summer holidays in Sandbanks Provincial Park. Jim and Gary have raved about the area for years.
Over the last 20 years, the County has been redefined. Its unique ecosystem provides an ideal site for wineries. The French introduced the notion of terroir. To create good wines, you need the right combination of climate, soil and irrigation. Prince Edward County enjoys the right mix of soils, stones laced with limestone, drainage and proximity to a large lake and its cooling effects. The region has become known for its Pinot Noir.
When my wife, Wendy, suggested we spend a few days in the area, I jumped at it. The following are the lessons we learned as we explored this unique region just 90 minutes from Toronto.
1. It’s All About The Client Experience
We live in an experience economy. For years, Prince Edward County was a farming region interspersed with recreational areas and small towns. Today, wineries, tourism, and an increasing number of retirees moving into the area have transformed the county. New inns and restaurants have opened up to serve the influx of retirees from Toronto and other centres, as well as the large number of tourists visiting the region. The County is taking on a “Napa” feel to it. The natural beauty of the area creates a “pull” that brings people here. Quality accommodation, good food, and the experience of tasting and learning about wines enrich the consumer experience.
2. Educate The Client
When we were in Prince Edward County, I was struck by the effort everyone made to inform and educate us with regard to the region. Our first wine tasting was at the Norman Hardie Winery. Ben took the time to highlight the qualities of their wine, the property, other wineries, and the area itself. He was informative and entertaining. Our experience at each winery was consistent in that they all actively promoted each other, local restaurants, inns and other places to visit in the county.
3. Adapt To The Environment
Prince Edward County is a good example of the importance of adapting to the environment. Wine growers search the world to find the best conditions for cultivating grapes and creating great wines. A few pioneers identified this area as an ideal place to establish a winery. Their pioneering efforts have transformed the region. While the wine industry is still in its early stages, the character of the county has changed. Wineries, tourism and a growing population of retirees change the economic character of the area and foster new business opportunities. Entrepreneurs take advantage of these conditions to create new businesses.
4. Market, Baby, Market
Throughout our visit to Prince Edward County, I was impressed by the way in which everyone promoted the uniqueness of the area. The people in the wineries recommended other wineries and places to eat. The staff in the inns and restaurants promoted the wineries and other establishments. There was a real pride of community and recognition that everyone benefited through promoting the region.
In a today’s economy, it is all about the client experience. We will go back to Prince Edward County because of the people, the natural beauty of the area and the efforts of entrepreneurs, and the local agencies to create an attractive destination for tourists and an inviting community for those who live there.