We left at 9:30 am to head out towards the Eastern Townships for the day. It took about an hour to do the pick-ups, coffee run and general organization before we could get onto the highway. The Champlain Bridge was packed with people trying to get out of the city. It was the construction, however, that really slowed the drive.
At least the weather was amazing. Sunny and warm with the occasional cool breeze. It had been a long time since I had driven down Highway 10. I smiled when I passed the Chambly exit, shocked that I used to do this drive on a daily basis to get to work. Not rushing to get to the office today, I was actually able to enjoy this scenic drive. I used to love getting out of the city for the weekend, and the traffic gave me plenty of time to think about how much I missed Montreal summers.
The last time I got to go to the Quebec wineries was for my birthday. I was treated to a cider tasting tour, ending at l’Orpailleur for a great meal. L’Orpailleur is, I believe, the oldest winery in the region. With the help of an I-phone, we were able to navigate to a different cluster of wineries on the route.
Our first stop was at Fromagerie des Cantons, where we got to try four different types of cheese. Brie was, as usual, my favourite. The other girls bought some to bring home, but I decided to hold out, since it was only the first stop on our tour. It ended up being a bad idea, since we made no other cheese stops that day.
Our first wine stop was at La Bauge. I liked each of the five wines in our “dégustation” but opted for a vin rouge fortifié, which tastes something like porto, to bring home. One weird feature of La Bauge is that it boasts having exotic animals on site. I saw what looked like a lone Llama under a makeshift shelter and decided to move on. Things like that are so unnecessary.
The second stop was a little further out to La Mission. When we pulled up, we saw a man serenading his lady with a guitar at a picnic table. It was a scene almost as sad as the lone Llama, and I tried hard not to stare. At La Mission we were offered a tasting of seven wines. On an empty stomach, that was seven too many. This winery collected a donation for an organization that worked on putting an end to violent crimes against women. We willingly contributed to the fund before making our way to the little restaurant down the street.
At this point I was dizzy, hungry, and starting to feel the anger that builds inside me when my stomach is empty. Well not empty really, since it had 12 little glasses of wine and a slice of Parmesan to keep it company. The friendly waiter made it all better, and brought us our meals quickly. I ordered a pizza, which was accompanied by two side salads and a soup. It was exactly what I needed. The others had a duck wrap and a quiche with the same accompaniments.
Re-energized, I was up for two more wineries, but the crowd only wanted one. We decided on Vignoble Les Diurnes, which ended the tour on a low-note. It was the first stop of the day that charged a small fee for the tasting, and the staff wasn’t very friendly. Things went downhill from there as we got trapped in a two-hour traffic jam on the way home. Thankfully I was in good company, and the drive gave a great opportunity to reconnect with the girls and gossip about my current life in Thailand.
I can’t wait to do it again!