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Taste of Québec

Delectable delights on the Brome-Missisquoi Wine Route

In Québec’s Eastern Townships, food, beverages and outdoor activities make for delicious adventures

As soon as you enter Québec’s Eastern Townships, about an hour’s drive east of Montréal, life slows down and your senses are sharpened. Adopt a leisurely pace and you’ll be able to hear the birds as you take a hike, breathe in the scents of farmers’ fields, size up historic towns and taste local products in the area’s restaurants. It is a magical place for epicureans and the epi-curious, where taste buds come alive as you savour outstanding foods and wines.

The Brome-Missisquoi Wine Route highlights 20 wineries and 21 restaurants, with plenty of places to stay along the way – from high-end to romantic BnBs, to family-friendly lodgings, including Auberge West Brome in West-Brome, Gîte au Chant de l’Onde in Frelighsburg, Auberge des Appalaches in Sutton, and Domaine Jolivent in Lac-Brome.

Plus, you can explore everything else this charming region of Québec has to offer, including a cheese circuit, quirky boutiques and outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and kayaking.

The Orpailleur Vineyard

Mathieu Dupuis / Tourisme Cantons-de-l'Est

Domaine du Ridge

Domaine du Ridge / Tourisme Cantons-de-l'Est

The birthplace of Québec viticulture 30 years ago, this region’s 140-kilometre wine route produces 60 per cent of Québec’s wine.

But following the trail is about more than tasting wine. Local businesses along the way have signs out front that proclaim they are Amis de la Route des vins – friends of the Wine Route and can offer you different activities and facilities to help you discover it. Well informed on the region, they can help with your explorations.

Pop in for a bite at the cafés, rent a bicycle or kayak at the outdoor outfitters, or visit the farms where you can play with alpacas or buy delicious products.

There are four road trips mapped out on the Wine Route’s website: The Sutton-Brome Lake Axis; The Bromont-Cowansville Drive; The Farnham-Frelighsburg Tour; and The Dunham-Stanbridge-East Triangle.

Each map pinpoints wineries, lodgings and restaurants and ranges in length from 32 to 69 kilometres. If you’d prefer to pedal, there are four bicycle paths on the site that range from easy to intermediate and range in length from 42 to 99 kilometres (of course, you can always do just a portion of them).

Agrotourism Produces

Daphné Caron / Tourisme Cantons-de-l'Est

Once you visit, you’ll find each of the wineries have unique stories to tell. Domaine du Ridge in Saint-Armand was started in 1996 by Denis Paradis when friends and family helped him plant 2,000 grapevines. Now the vineyard has more than 180,000 plants; Paradis practices biodynamic viticulture, avoiding the use of chemicals wherever possible.

Different tasting options can be reserved, including a three-hour package called The Epicurean, which includes a vineyard presentation, visit of the estate and wine tastings paired with locally produced cheese and cold cuts. As a bonus, you receive a souvenir glass.

The Orpailleur Vineyard

Dominique Lafond / Tourisme Cantons-de-l'Est

The Orpailleur Vineyard in Dunham valley is a pioneer in the Québec wine industry – its first vines were planted in 1982. Charles-Henri de Coussergues, the award-winning winemaker and one of the owners, is the son of a winemaking family from Nîmes, France.

He protects his vines from Québec’s fierce winters with a method called “hilling,” in which the plants are covered with soil and unearthed in the spring. The destination features a restaurant as well as a Vine and Wine economuseum. An economuseum is an enterprise that showcases artisans and their traditional trades by sharing their know-how with visitors. The opportunity to meet a passionate artisan is at the heart of the experience.

Another spot on the route is Val Caudalies, with award-winning wines, vermouths and ciders. Visitors can sample their products while seated on a covered terrace with orchard, meadow and forest views. Depending on the season, you can also pick apples and grapes to take home.

Fromagerie Missiska

Alex Chabot / Tourisme Cantons-de-l'Est

For beer lovers, there is Brasserie Dunham, a 10-year-old brewery in Dunham that has a kitchen which offers an organic and ethically sourced menu.

If cheese is to your taste, you can’t miss the Cheesemakers Circuit Les Têtes Fromagères which features 15 stops and cheeses made from cow, sheep and goat milk.

At Fromagerie Missiska, Jersey milk cheeses with no added preservatives include 10-day-ripened soft cheese Jersey Royal. Another stop on the circuit is Fromagerie des Cantons, with its award-winning, mild, buttery El Nino Jersey milk cheese.

After such indulgences, the Balnea Spa brings a different delight for the senses. Hidden in the heart of a private nature reserve, the main building is perched on a hillside overlooking a small lake. Using the Scandinavian method of hot and cold submersion, it offers saunas, hot tubs and Turkish baths, followed by a cold splash in the pool, under a waterfall, or in the lake.

A trip along the Brome-Missisquoi Wine Route is about savouring everything this peaceful region has to offer. The trick is to take your time.

Visit easterntownships.org to plan your visit. We recommend calling ahead to confirm the opening hours.

This content was produced by The Globe and Mail’s Globe Content Studio on behalf of Bonjour Québec. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.

CREDITS: Concept and oversight by JESSICA ROBINSON; Editing by SHELLEY WHITE; Art direction by JEANINE BRITO; Design and development by AASHISH ARORA; Illustrations by MAIA GRECCO

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