MOULIN PETIT PRE – QUEBEC
Moulin means mill in French and one might expect a stone tower with a creaking wind wind fan, but the Moulin Petit Pré on the Côte de Beaupré along one of the oldest highways in North America which follows the north bank of the St. Lawrence River to the east of Quebec City has a stone tower, but the mill wheel has gone. Built in 1695 at the beginnings the settlement of what was called New France, before becoming Canada under the along the Avenue Royale, the “Route de Nouvelle France”, the original old mill was later incorporated into a house which supported its owner whose wealth grew along as the miller for the surrounding colonial farm steads, the Château Richer.
Bread is still made at the old mill, baked on the spot with flour ground by hand in the historic belt driven mill works grinding equipment on the upper levels of the restored stone mill tower where you can still see some of the remaining hand-pegged timbers, but the Moulin Petit Pre is now more associated with the winery on the surrounding property, the Vignoble du Petit Pré, established in 1997. The 5-hectare vineyard of Vandal Cliche grapes, developed in Quebec especially to withstand the cold snowbound winters, takes advantage of a unique microclimate of south-facing slopes along the river, across from the Ile d’Orléans, with fertile soils for growing grapes and berries. Aside from the wine grapes also grown are raspberries, black currants, Canadian saskatoonberries, and blackberries which are used for a variety of specialized wines, liqueurs, vinegars.
In winter, the Cote de Beaupre is the route to ski sports, but in summer, the farming region of eastern Quebec, dotted with grower stands of fresh fruits and vegetables of the short growing season, honey bees, apple butter and maple sugar shacks. Along the old historic road which runs to the east of the Montmorency Park Waterfall to the magnificent pilgrimage church of St Anne de Beaupre (see Basilica St Anne de Beaupre) a distinctive feature you’ll find are the distinctive vegetable storage sheds dug into the earthen hillsides to store goods through the winter chill protected from the brutal elements. Also look for the local style of architecture with a raised first floor in anticipation of the deep blanket of winter snow.
At the Moulin Petit Pre visitors can sample a selection of the the wines of the vineyard, meet with the winemaker, as well as take a turn at grinding meal into flour where kids are offered a learning experience at the old style equipment and flour bins. The Moulin Petit Pre is open from June through October and offers tours of the mill, wine tasting, a small restaurant café with their own wines and local beer, or take along some fresh baked bread for your journey on the historic highway of old New France. © Bargain Travel West
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