My life as a food blogger can be quite delightful. This is especially true when I get invited to wine tastings.
So, of course these guys have been on my radar. I like to support local wineries. But my “local” radar, if I’m being honest, is more centred on the Okanagan than anywhere else in BC.
I met the winemaker, Bailey, I tried some wines, and when I realized that they were located in the Cowichan Valley and the I was going to be going through there in a few weeks, asked if I could come by the winery for a look.
Here’s a wee video I made of my visit, so you can get a sense of what it’s like there:
So, on a beautiful, hot, sunny August day, I drove up to the winery on Vancouver Island.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was completely blown away.
The facility rivals anything I’ve seen in the Okanagan, and even in Napa. It’s big, modern, open, and airy, overlooking acres of grapevines.
Although the winery has been around for 30 years (the first planting was in 1886, officially making it “estate”), it has just been the last 5 or so years, since being purchased by the Brunner family, where they have really upped their game.
There is also a guest house here, which I was lucky enough to get a tour of, and let me tell you, if I had a someone special and a reason to get out of town for a romantic getaway, this would be the place I’d choose.
They’re working towards becoming an organic winery in the next few years, and quite a few of their wines are vegan.
So, yeah. You can colour me impressed.
As it turns out, the Cowichan Valley is a great place to grow grapes. The soil is volcanic in origin, and they get around 1,100 growing days here, which is roughly equivalent to New Zealand. The weather is similar to the Mediterranean, with, on average, only an 11 degree fluctuation in temps from day to night. This temperature fluctuation creates the nice balance of sugar versus acid in the grapes. Who knew???
They now grow and make a wide variety of wines, but my favourites, from a (more) recent tasting include the 2017 Ortega, which is a slightly sweeter white that would be a great summer patio sipper (and excellent with oysters), and the Quill Rosé, which is made of 100% Cowichan Valley grapes, from both gamay and pinot noir.
So, if you find yourself driving up the Malahat from Victoria to Nanaimo, I’d encourage you to take a few minutes and get off the beaten path. Check out Blue Grouse, sample some wines, and discover some more of what our beautiful province has to offer.