*This post is proudly brought to you in partnership with Tourism Essex – see more great places like Oxley on their site here. *
Its no wonder Essex-County is quickly becoming one of Ontario’s most talked about wine regions, now that local destinations like Oxley Estate Winery are making their way onto lists like ‘Top-100 Best Outdoor Restaurants in Canada’ by Opentable.com. Oxley offers an intimate dining experience – a bit different than others we’ve visited, with an inviting charm and sophistication that’s characteristic of owner and operator Ann Wilson. Their award-winning menu and wine evolve with each season which is why, on any given Sunday, their dining room and wine shop buzz with visitors from South Africa, Europe and throughout North America amidst their 300 typical guests.
When Ann & Murray Wilson bought the old tobacco sorting barn, Ann’s plans to keep it for friends and family promptly turned into a bigger idea. In 2010, Ann drew up her vision for the barn on a napkin; a grand staircase, clean white structural lines and lofted ceilings. The Wilson’s entrusted Coulson Design Builds with Ann’s vision and had a pleasant experience, from start to finish. The iron staircase was handmade on site and the black iron framed windows contrast a northern white interior, reminiscent of Danish design. With windows on the south, east and west of the barn natural sunlight beams inside all day long.
Oxley is quickly becoming one of Essex-County’s most popular wineries and wedding venues. Their rustic patio and luscious green garden was host to a special event as we enjoyed an al fresco mid-week lunch by the fireplace. Our knowledgeable server was passionate about the menu and explained just how much local produce we’re spoiled with around here. We learned that the mixed sandy loam soil of the area is perfect for producing high aromatics and intense colours as she paired our meal with the fan-favourite ‘Wowza’ White and the rich and fragrant ‘Regent’ as head Chef Aaron Lynn took us through his menu of Lake Erie perch, PEI Oysters and Guns Hill Cheese.
Chef Aaron has been calling Oxley home for the past 4 years, after coming home from time spent working in Niagara and out west at the Banff Springs Hotel. Moving home was an easy decision for him after he put two and two together and realized he was surrounded by Essex County fish and produce on the regular – even though he was miles away. Oxley is passionate about creating a tight-knit working family and an environment for creativity to flourish. His passion and knack is clear considering all of the pickles, jams and spreads are made in house and they garnish with local edible flowers and tasty bee pollen. Don’t miss the Sticky Duck Wings if you visit!
Their local farm to table approach, warm and welcome atmosphere and wine will keep you coming back for more. One of the staff shared that Oxley “feels like Ann” and we couldn’t agree more. Ann was our host for the afternoon and she is like a warm sunny day, delighted to share the thrills of her ongoing journey (when you visit, make sure you ask her about ‘the Weather Rock’ joke). Be sure to get your reservation soon for one of their ‘Howl at the Moon’ dinners with live music outside under the full moon. Oxley is open all year round and available for special events.