Pelee Island Winery and Birdie’s Perch

IMG_5325The long weekend gets even better – yesterday, Jonathan and I went for a tour of Pelee Island Winery.  We sampled a few new wines and learn a few things about how one of my favourite Ontario wines is made.  The tour started by tasting a few reds and whites of varying sweetness, flavours and age.  We even got to keep the wine glasses at the end as a fun keepsake.  Our favourite wine that we tasted was a new organic wine called Pelee Pure.  It was light, non acidic and perfect for a summer afternoon with some appetizers.

First in the tour they showed us the huge barrels that were used about forty years ago, imported from France made from French oak.  These barrels are fun to look at, but hard to keep clean.  Each time these wine barrels were emptied someone had to crawl into the barrel and scrape the insides clean so that the flavour would be perfect for the next batch of wine.  Currently, Pelee Island uses smaller oak barrels and giant stainless steel barrels to age, ferment and store its wine.  A fun fact that I learned about sparkling wine is the finer the bubbles the higher the quality of the sparkling wine.IMG_5306IMG_5307IMG_5313

IMG_5326At the side of the building there was a mini vineyard and pretty garden beds.  All of the grapes used in the wine are grown on the island.  Pelee Island was chosen to grow grapes primarily because it shares the same latitude as Northern California and Southern France.  Meaning a warm climate and longer growing season.  Pelee Island has 550 acres of vineyards and is Canada’s largest private estate.  You can also visit Pelee Island for wonderful bird watching, hiking and cycling.  There is a ferry that goes over to the island, but it only goes across twice per day.

IMG_5339After our wonderful tour Jonathan and I went for fish tacos at Birdie’s Perch.  Jonathan discovered this unique chip truck while writing for his weekly food column at CBC Radio Windsor.  He loved the food so much that he simply had to take me back to try the food.  The ingredients were fresh and delicious – the perch in the taco came from Lake Erie.  Jonathan also ordered a delicious Canadian treat – poutine!  Clearly because it’s delicious and to celebrate our Canada Day weekend.  On the top level of the bus there are tables, but since it was humid we opted for a shaded picnic table where there was a nice breeze.  It was a perfect ending for our day.  On the drive back we drove by many beautiful farms where farmers grow fresh produce.  Local produce always tastes better and can be a fun way to explore your surroundings.IMG_5340IMG_5337IMG_5346IMG_5344IMG_5342IMG_5323IMG_5303IMG_5300IMG_5297

Organic Orange Cupcakes

These cupcakes are light, fluffy and flavourful.  The orange juice and orange zest give the cupcakes depth in their flavour.  The vanilla yogurt is a nice change from adding sour cream and there are fewer calories.  I thought I might try turbinado sugar in the cupcakes to see how it affected the flavour.  I was very pleased with the results.  Keeping with the theme of being ‘lighter’ there is just a simple dusting of icing sugar instead of a heavy buttercream icing.  There is no butter in these cupcakes, which makes me happy!  You could make an orange zest buttercream icing, but the cupcakes are delicious enough on their own.


½ cup of canola oil

¾ cup of turbinado sugar

zest of one organic orange

¼ cup freshly squeezed organic orange juice

2 eggs

½ cup of organic vanilla yogurt

1 ½ cups of all purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

¼ cup confectioner’s sugar for dusting the tops


  1. Grate the zest of one organic orange and put in bowl.
  2. Squeeze the organic orange for ¼ cup of juice.
  3. In a large bowl mix orange zest, turbinado sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. Whisk two eggs together in a separate bowl.
  5. Mix all of the wet ingredients (eggs, yogurt, orange juice and canola oil) with the dry ingredients.
  6. Stir all ingredients together and mix well with a wooden spoon.
  7. Grease the muffin pans and preheat the oven to 350 F.
  8. Divide batter into muffin pans, filling ¾ of the way full.
  9. Bake for 15-18 minutes.
  10. Makes about 12 regular sized orange cupcakes.
  11. Let cool fully.
  12. With icing sugar and a sieve, sprinkle icing sugar on top of cupcakes.
  13. Enjoy!