Vancouver island has two main wine regions. This is split between the Saanich Peninsula and the Cowichan Valley. The Cowichan Valley is the flagship wine region of the island but the Saanich wineries are extremely easy to get to on your way from the ferries to Victoria.
Honerable Mention Vancouver Island wine region, there is a few wineries between Ladysmith and Parksville.
Welcome to the Cowichan Valley. The BC govenment started growing wine as a test over 30 years ago, and boy has it flourished. In this region you need to try an Island Ortega. Vancouver Island has the worlds largest growers of Ortega. All the following are must stops on the Cowichan Valley Wine trail. One thing that separates the Cowichan Valley from other winery regions is that the owners are involved in the day to day operations and it shows in the high service levels and entertaining tasting presentations.
Cowichan Valley Climate is Perfect For Grape Growth
The Cowichan Valley is located in the Southern Part of Vancouver Island, between the cities of Victoria in the south and Nanaimo in the north. The valley’s name comes from the Salish word Khowutzun which means ‘warm land’, thanks to its temperate year-round climate. Reporting average summer temperatures of 25 degrees centigrade and lows of 13 degrees centigrade, Cowichan valley has some of the best weather on Vancouver Island, and has been known to receive up to 2000 hours of sunshine in a year.
The valley is bordered by the Salish Sea on one side and gently rolling hills on the other, making it a place of spectacular beauty and a utopia for holidaymakers who arrive in droves to enjoy artisan made cheeses, boutique wines, crisp homemade ciders, fresh bread and many other specialty foods designed to satisfy even the most discriminating of palates.
The valley is made up of diverse communities including several First Nations people, many of whom have called the Cowichan Valley home for over 4,500 years. Warm weather, consistent rainfall and rich gravelly soils make the Cowichan Valley one of the best wine producing regions in British Columbia, second only to the Okanagan Valley. Visitors to Cowichan can expect to enjoy unique wine tours, scenic biking and hiking trails, world famous restaurants, kayaking and swimming and other water activities in the Pacific Ocean and freshwater lakes in the valley, horse riding as well as rich cultural events showcasing the community’s rich history. Offering innumerable indoor and outdoor activities as well as the opportunity to enjoy some of the most beautiful natural landscapes, a trip to Cowichan valley should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Set in expansive and scenic vineyards, the Enrico Winery is among the top attractions in Cowichan Valley. The vineyard is set on 50 acres overlooking a manmade lake and circled by the occasional eagle overhead. Initially acquired as a mixed farm, the vineyard now boasts several varieties of grapes including Pinot Gris, Ortega, Cabernet Libre and many others.
Since its acquisition, the winery has gone on to build a state of the art winemaking facility, laboratory, and refrigeration systems, a beautiful tasting room, and multilevel patio. The Enrico Winery offers daily wine tastings, self guided tours, discounts on selected wines and a picnic area next to the manmade lake. Wine offerings include: The Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon, The Confessor Ortega Reserve,
The Red Dragon Rose and many others. Visitors on the Enrico Winery Tour can expect friendly staff, a wide variety of wines to sample, breathtaking surroundings and a relaxing atmosphere. Custom made lunches are available but must be ordered in advance.
One of the oldest wineries in the region, the Blue Grouse winery is set in an impressive building that underwent a three-year renovation to upgrade the systems and winery equipment. Originally an experimental vineyard funded by the Ministry of Agriculture in 1977, the winery has seen several changes in ownership over the decades, and a change from experimental farm, to commercial vineyard to the modern vineyard, wine shop and tasting room of today.
Set on 45 acres surrounded by evergreen trees, pure air and spring water, the vineyards produce some of the finest grapes in the region and their resultant wines are among the most popular in Cowichan. The estate is named after the blue grouse that once made Cowichan Valley home in large numbers. Some of the best-loved Blue Grouse Wines include; The Blue Grouse Ortega, Pinot Gris, Black Muscat and the Quill Range which includes Rose, Riesling and Dry White Wines. Wine tastings are offered daily and visitors have the opportunity to enjoy cold cuts and cheese platters on the patio offering breathtaking views. You can also purchase a bottle of wine to enjoy with your platter. You are allowed to bring your own picnic and enjoy it on the ground with friends and family, and even pets are allowed. Knowledgeable staffs, discounts on wines, spectacular views and a variety of tastings are just a few reasons to visit this popular winery.
Unsworth Vineyard is found in Mill Bay and is set in acres of lush landscapes offering panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. The vineyard and winery are set on tens of acres of land with a 119-year-old farmhouse that was renovated to include a restaurant and bistro. Unsworth Vineyard is committed to growing the most delicious and highest quality grapes in order to produce their award winning wines. As a result, the Vineyard only grows disease tolerant and quick ripening varieties suitable for the Cowichan climate. Grape varietals grown include the Marechal Foch, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and several Blattner varietals.
The Vineyard uses cutting edge equipment along with traditional artisanal methods to create wines that are rich in flavour and character, many of which have won both local and international awards. The tasting room and restaurant are open daily. A typical wine tour will include wine tastings, lunch in the restaurant or on the patio, a few minutes observing the chickens that keep vermin at bay and a tour of the winery to learn about the processes involved in making the wine. Standard wines from this winery include: The Allegro, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Rose as well as the immensely popular and extremely affordable Charme De L’lle.
The owners here truly believe in planting what grows over what sells and this shows in their premium wines. This shows in the quality of their wine. As it reads at the entrance way, the wine is the "expression of the land" and as such their product is all-estate grown with no irrigation and traditional methods. The only exception is their blackberry port-style dessert wine. The fruit for this wine is crowd-sourced from local harvesters big and small. From this they make both a yearly vintage and a solera method. The yearly vintage is available in liquor stores but the only way to get your hands on a bottle of the solera is to visit the tasting room. While there you may want to stop for lunch at their bistro.
Cowichan wine tours offer you the opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life, while enjoying some of nature’s vintages in beautiful surroundings. Take advantage of the chance to sign on for a wine tour and enjoy unparalleled experiences including wine tastings, exotic cuisine, picnics, communing with nature, water activities and many others. as with all travelling activities, ensure to partner with the right tour operator in order to get the best out of your experiences. We would love to work with you to ensure that your wine tour is an unforgettable one.
Other stops on the six-hour winery tour to Cowichan include a visit to the Merrydale Ciderworks, a cidery that includes a bistro, tasting room, brick oven bakery and distillery. Visitors can purchase a variety of spirits, cider, baked goods and meals. Camping and wedding facilities are also available, including a selection of rustic yurts for those looking for glamping opportunities. Another essential stop is the Divino Estate Winery, a 40-acre vineyard set on Cobble Hill. Divino offers Trebbiano, Cabernet, Chardonnay and Pinot Wines made with old world expertise and infused with rich local flavours. This rustic winery is full of character and is a must visit for anyone looking for a quiet but enriching experience away from the noise and crowding that can sometimes occur with visits to larger vineyards.
Nestled in the Cowichan Valley is a great winery run and operated by the owners. You'll love the view and the team here and they will make you feel at home. Rocky Creek Winery takes it name from its original location a few kilometers north. They moved south to their current location to expand the family-run business. If joining a Cowichan Valley Wine tour you can always request this vineyard as we visit them by request.
One of the most popular wineries in the Cowichan valley, Averill Creek has a beautiful property and award winning wines. Open 7 days a week during the winter and more often than not in the winter, make this your stop on the way through Duncan or to Lake Cowichan.
If it's close to where you are it's always worth the stop. Check opening times and call ahead.
A small production vineyard nestled on warm hillside, Venturi-Schulze produces less than one thousand cases per year. The staff in their tasting room never fails to educate and entertain. A wine tasting will include a sample of one of their incredible balsamic vinegars, produced by their decades-old solera system.
This winery is just off the highway and quite the entertaining stop. The ownership team is all family and they have wines from may years past. You can really find some gems here as well as some fruit wines for guests that love something a little off the general menu.
This lavender farm is perfect for parents looking for that entertaining stop for the whole family. Damali has more than just wines and the team here will make you feel welcome. Super easy to get to from Enrico but call ahead to make sure they are open.
Nestled in the Cowichan Valley, Alderlea Vineyards is a premier destination for wine enthusiasts. Enjoy a selection of exceptional character and quality wines, made with sustainable farming and winemaking practices. Visit us by appointment for a personalized experience.
Location: 1751 Stamps Rd Duncan, BC Phone: 1-250-746-7122
#12 Glenterra Vineyards
Discover wines with vibrant character and a true expression of terroir at Glenterra Vineyards. Our minimalist and natural approach to winemaking emphasizes the use of indigenous yeast, no animal-based fining products, and minimal use of sulfites.
Location: 3897 Cobble Hill Rd, Cobble Hill, BC Phone: 1-250-743-2330
This great stop is a island favourite and has cider, spirits and a great lunch venue. Just be sure to make reservations for lunch ahead of time!
Cowichan valley is Vancouver’s premier wine region and is home to numerous wineries, over three dozen tasting rooms, craft beers and award winning distilled spirits. The region is famous for its dry white wines although classic reds and sparkling wines are also produced in the valley. Pinot Gris, Riesling and Gewürztraminer grapes do especially well in the valley and the resulting wines are extremely popular with locals, tourists and consumers in international markets. Other grape varietals popular in this region include; Marechal Foch, Pinot Noir, and Ortega, in addition to delicious blackberry dessert wines.
Most of the wineries in Cowichan Valley are found on Cobble Hill which is an area surrounded by vineyards, orchards and the famous Shawinigan Lake. Top vineyards and wineries in the valley include: Enrico, Blue Grouse, Divono and Unsworth. You can also visit craft breweries and cider makers such as the Merrydale Cider works that produce some of the valley’s most popular ciders and spirits. Cowichan Valley is also touted to be the next big wine region thanks to its temperate climate especially with the advent of global warming.
Each tour is designed to provide you with the best experience for the time you have available and ensure that you enjoy the best that the region has to offer. Below are several reasons to choose a Victoria to Cowichan wine tour:
Canadian Craft Tours are committed to ensuring that you get the best out of your Victoria Wine Tour. Whether you are looking for an afternoon’s excursion, a full day experience or are considering a wine tour as one of your Victoria bachelorette party ideas, Canadian Craft Tours is well equipped to provide you with an unforgettable experience. Cowichan wine tours offer you the opportunity to visit three wineries on a day trip from Victoria City and include the following:
Each Canadian Craft Tour involves a visit to three of the top wineries in Cowichan Valley including Enrico, Blue Grouse and Unsworth. Each winery has its own specially crafted and unique wines designed to celebrate the variety of grapes grown in the valley.
Looking for more information on wineries in the Cowichan Valley? Check out Tourism Cowichan.