Our first time bookdocking with Harvest Hosts was an absolutely wonderful experience. We got to spend a completely quiet night on the grounds of the Burning Kiln Winery near Turkey Point, Ontario, on the shores of Lake Erie.
For some background, Harvest Hosts is an organization in which the proprietors of wineries, farms and even some rural museums, give RVers permission to stay overnight on their property.
The rules are straightforward – usually no more than one night, self-sufficient dry-camping. They usually allow only one or two rigs on at one time, and, of course, in exchange for the free night’s stay, it is expected that you go in, visit the facility, and buy some things.
Buy wine from a winery, in the height of summer? That’s not a problem for us.
Burning Kiln is one of the places that really does it right. In addition to hundreds of acres of healthy vineyards, they have a marvelous restaurant with tasting rooms, tours, live music, the whole thing,
As is the required convention, we arrived and I introduced myself to the manager who welcomed us and asked if we would like to camp in the parking lot, which is what we expected, “Or,” she said, “you can drive up that dirt track over that rise – there’s a clearing there and you can camp in the vineyards.
Wow. You didn’t have to tell me twice. So there we were, one of the most beautiful nights of the summer, in our own private campsite, surrounded by grapes, and the calls of owls and herons in the forests beyond. The starlit night and a bottle of rosé from their tasting rooms complemented our drycamping dinner. The rig’s battery did a great job of keeping the lights on, and we wanted for nothing else.
In the morning as we were preparing coffee, the winemaster herself dropped by. Not to see us specifically but to inspect the grapes near our site. She was quite a wonderful and talented young lady, and meeting and talking viticulture with her was an added bonus.
Again, we made a point to thank our hosts before departing.
If you are looking for a break from regular campsites, and would like to drycamp somewhere more interesting than a Walmart parking lot, check out HarvestHosts.com. The annual membership costs the same as one night’s camping anywhere (around $44), so it pays for itself immediately, and the memories of the experience are unique and wonderful.