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Home > Tourism Victoria Blog > A Guide to the Cowichan Valley Wine Region

A Guide to the Cowichan Valley Wine Region

Posted on March 1, 2018

It’s been called the “Napa of the North”, and with good reason. Cowichan is home to fourteen unique wineries making a name for the area as a destination wine region. Whether you're a seasoned sommelier looking to add new and exciting wines to your library or just developing your palate, it’s time to move this region to the top of your list and explore what cool climate viticulture in Cowichan has to offer. 

Just a quick hop over the Malahat from Victoria, embark on a self-guided tour or let someone else do the driving. You can book with a tour company to guide you around the region’s wineries, including Cheers Cowichan Tours, EV Tours, Canadian Craft Tours, LA LimousinesIsland Time Tours and Tesla Tours.

 

Averill Creek Vineyard 

Positioned on the south slope of Mount Prevost, Averill Creek Vineyard is Vancouver Island’s largest estate winery producing world-class wines. Offering stunning views of the Cowichan Valley, a state-of-the-art facility and extensive portfolio of wines, Averill Creek is the perfect stop for a tasting, tour and picnic on the patio, open daily from March through December. The winery has made a name for Vancouver Island Pinot Noir; their 2014 Somenos Series Pinot Noir was recognized with a silver medal at the 2017 Global Pinot Noir Masters in London, England – the only Canadian Winery to receive a medal.

Wine to Try: 2014 Somenos Pinot Noir

averill creek winery
Image: Averill Creek Vineyard
 

Deol Estate Winery 

A family-owned winery, Deol Estate Winery is situated on an old dairy farm that now plays host to eight different grape varieties. Offering a tasting room and picnic patio just minutes off of Highway 1, take a time out to experience a large portfolio of red and white wines produced entirely on site. Open Wednesday to Sunday during the Spring and Summer.

Wine to try: Marechal Foch 2012 

 

Blue Grouse Estate Winery 

One of the Island’s oldest estate vineyards, Blue Grouse Estate Winery offers an exquisite tasting experience in stunning surroundings. The Estate label is produced entirely from grapes grown in their vineyard, from Champagne-style Paula Sparkling to Ortega and Pinot Gris. Planning a multi-day trip? Stop off for a night in the “Grouse House” – a relaxing “Bed & Bottle” retreat situated in the vineyard.  Starting in May the Blue Grouse tasting room is open daily.

Wine to try: 2017 Estate Pinot Gris

blue grouse winery
Image: Blue Grouse Estate Winery

 

Venturi-Schulze Vineyards

More than a winery, Venturi-Schulze Vineyards brings a unique offering to Cowichan wine country, producing not only excellent and adventurous estate-grown wines but also balsamic vinegar made entirely from their own grapes. Focused first and foremost on sustainability since before it was commonplace, Venturi-Schulze does not undertake any irrigation, use herbicides, pesticides or chemicals in their wine. Starting in April, drop in for a tasting Wednesday through Sunday and Holiday Mondays.

Wine to try: Brandenburg No.3

 

Cherry Point Estate Wines

An excellent spot for a guided tour, wine tasting and dining, Cherry Point Estate Wines was one of the first licensed wineries on Vancouver Island. The 24-acre vineyard plays host to 18 grape varietals, situated in rolling countryside just minutes from Cowichan Bay. Stop by for a tasting daily and in the summer, a meal at the bistro for West Coast-inspired cuisine and local ingredients.

Wine to try: 2014 Lágrimas Negras 

cherry point wines
Image: Cherry Point Estate Wines

 

Alderlea Vineyards 

Alderlea Vineyards boasts one of Vancouver Island’s oldest vineyards, situated in one of the warmest spots in the Cowichan Valley, overlooking Quamichan Lake. In addition to a wide variety of Alderlea reds and whites, new owners Zac and Julie recently launched the Plaid label (Plaid Red and Plaid White) – excellent wines to pair with West Coast cuisine. Be sure to try these new labels in the tasting room!

Wine to try: 2017 Sauvignon Blanc    

 

Damali Lavender & Winery 

If you’re on the hunt for a delicious and unique combination, this boutique craft winery specializes in wines that contain lavender grown on the estate. At Damali Lavender & Winery, enjoy a self-guided tour of the lavender farm, a stroll through the labyrinth and browse through the gift shop for natural lavender products at this haven of relaxation. 

Wine to try: 2017 Rosea

damali wine cowichan
Image: Damali Lavender & Winery

 

Divino Estate Winery

This vineyard in Cobble Hill is built on years of experience in the Okanagan valley starting in the late 1960s. Producing Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Piccolo Bianco to name a few, Divino Estate Winery is now celebrating 50 years since they first planted grapes. Stop by the winery on a Friday or Saturday to taste their wines including special editions and limited releases.

Wine to try: Pinot de Pinot

 

Emandare Vineyard

Built on the philosophy that “wine is grown, not made,” Emandare Vineyard emphasizes that careful stewardship of the land is what set their wines apart. No commercial yeasts or additives influence their products, making for wines that showcase the true “terroir” of the region. Open Thursday through Saturday in the spring and summer, experience Emandare’s products in a tasting of their estate-grown wines. 

Wine to try: Emandare 2016 Siegerrebe Gewürztraminer

emandare wine
Image: Emandare Vineyard
 

Glenterra Vineyards 

Boasting over 19 years in the business, the wines of Glenterra Vineyards are produced using wild fermentation, minimal sulfites and are vegan-friendly, including their estate-grown Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Vivace (a white wine blend).

Wine to try: 2017 Vivace White Blend

 

Enrico Winery 

Enrico Winery was the first Vancouver Island recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in BC wines in 2015 for the 2014 Tempest Ortega. The 18-acre vineyard and tasting room is open for seven days a week, or join them for weekly “Gourmet Lunch” every Monday with Executive Chef Leigh Parkin-Hatch.   

Wine to try: Tempest Ortega 2016

Image: Enrico Winery
 

Rocky Creek Winery 

Established by a couple who switched out corporate suits for gumboots, Rocky Creek Winery offers a portfolio of reds, whites and “Special Harvests” including sparkling and blackberry wines.  Recently, Rocky Creek has received some attention for a new addition to the portfolio; their 2016 Pinot Gris is an “orange wine” - a white wine made with brief contact with the grape skin. Plan to stop by for a tasting and picnic in the Cowichan sun, open Friday through Sunday starting in April. 

Wine to try:  On The Mark

 

Unsworth Vineyards 

This family owned and operated winery is just 30 minutes from Victoria, offering handcrafted wines and a unique farm-to-table dining experience at Unsworth Vineyard’s on-site restaurant. Enjoy seasonally inspired, locally sourced fare in a picturesque setting alongside award-winning wines; Unsworth’s 2014 Pinot Noir Reserve recently received a gold medal at the National Wine Awards of Canada! Stop by for a tasting on any day of the week, or make a reservation for a memorable dining experience at the restaurant, open Wednesday through Sunday.

You can also get to know Unsworth Vineyards through this video

Wine to try: Unsworth Charme de L’ile

 

unsworth wines
Image: Unsworth Vineyards

 

Vigneti Zanatta Winery & Vineyards 


Pioneers of the region’s wine industry, Vigneti Zanatta Winery was Vancouver Island’s first estate winery. The Zanatta family has farmed the land for over 50 years; what started as a hobby vineyard blossomed into a family-run business and was the first to specialize in Champagne-style wines. The knowledgeable staff will guide you through a tasting before you catch your reservation at Vinoteca – a bistro in the original farmhouse offering a menu that reflects the harvest and pairs well with Zanatta’s wines. 

Wine to try: Glenora Fantastia Brut 

There you have it, a guide to the fourteen wineries in the Cowichan Valley. If you're still looking for more exciting things to do while you're in the region, check out Tourism Cowichan. If you're visiting any of these wineries and post photos on Instagram or Twitter, be sure to use the hashtag #ExploreCowichan. Watch the Cowichan Uncovered video for even more inspiration! 

cowichan valley wine

Image by Jennifer Deol of Deol Estate Winery