Cowichan Valley Winery Tour
The Wineries of Cowichan Valley
British Columbia’s Cowichan Valley sits on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, just north of the capital city, Victoria. Surrounded by water on its east and western sides, Cowichan easily draws seafarers who visit its well-provisioned inlets and bays. Both Mill Bay and Cowichan Bay offer a place to eat and refuel. And, although the ocean and the activities that result (things like kayaking and whale watching) are certainly a draw, it might surprise you to know that Cowichan is making big waves when it comes to wine.
Known by some as ‘Napa of the North’, the Cowichan Valley is home to fourteen wineries. Here are only a few of the highlights.
Blue Grouse Estate Winery
Blue Grouse, set on 65 acres, is the island’s oldest estate winery. The modern and somewhat recently constructed Tasting Room is built of wooden beams, quarried stone, and glass and is, quite simply, architecturally stunning. Offering a mezzanine perched above the vineyard below, Blue Grouse offers the chance to taste wine while enjoying a great view. While visiting, you’ll have the chance to taste varietals like Bacchus, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Black Muscat to name only a few.
Unsworth Vineyards & Restaurant
Originally purchased as a retirement project by its founders, Tim and Colleen Turyk, wines produced at the 32-acre Unsworth Vineyards receive national acclaim. Home to a restaurant, Unsworth not only offers wine tasting, but serves up a seasonal and sustainably sourced menu. With the option to sit inside or out, on any given day, you might be lucky enough to enjoy live, local entertainment. Some of the wine you might taste includes Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and Cab Merlot.
Merridale Cidery & Distillery
Ok, no, it’s not exactly a winery per se, but Merridale is a cidery that can’t be missed. First, the setting is picturesque as it’s nestled within an orchard in Cobble Hill – a small community within the Cowichan Valley. A visit to Merridale’s tasting bar will offer the chance to taste their craft ciders, craft spirits and fortifieds. Their Farm Store, not only offers the chance to buy what you taste, but possibly take home jams, preserves, sauces and syrups. And, if you start feeling hungry, The Eatery at Merridale, set in an orchard meadow, offers casual comfort food and British pub-style counter service.
Averill Creek Vineyard
Set on 46-acres and built into the side of Mount Prevost, Averill is state-of-the-art. Onsite are three buildings connected together with the sole purpose of moving wine from one stage to the next without the need for pumps. With the capacity to produce 6,500 cases, Averill is best known for their Pinot Noir. Though not home to a formal restaurant, Averill is licensed and encourages visitor to pack a picnic or create one using local fare from their fridge.
Enrico certainly offers memorable wines, but it’s not just a place for tasting, perhaps an even better place for a good time. Drawing locals and visitors, Enrico regularly hosts events like live music, workshops, festivals, and BBQs. During a visit here, you can expect to taste varietals like Ortego, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Foch.
Call Victoria International Marina 778-432-0477 for all your yacht provisioning needs covering the west coast.
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