Who knew unassuming Vancouver Island is actually becoming world-class wine country, with quality grape-growing soil rivalling that of Italy and Northern France?
After arriving in picturesque Cowichan Valley, I was shocked to learn there are nearly 20 first-class boutique-style wineries in the area. It almost resembled Napa Valley, as I drove past rolling hills of well groomed vines. In fact, with its warm summers and trademark wet and mild B.C. winters, the area is perfect for growing Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris Grapes, which is why new wineries are sprouting up every year.
Cowichan Valley itself is a great little paradise nestled among towering old growth forests, quiet beaches and meandering rivers. Combine that with some darn good vino and you’ve got yourself a winning combination.
Centrally located between the cities of Victoria and Nanaimo, there is also no shortage of outdoor fun. I found myself surrounded by curious seals one morning as my one-man kayak skimmed the calm Pacific Ocean in front of the cosy Ocean Point Hotel in Cowichan Bay. These friendly little guys (almost looked like a pack of puppies poking there heads up) were all around my vessel. It was a very cool way to spend a morning, and, at one with nature, no less.
No trip to wine country would be complete without sampling the product, and in abundance, in my case of course. I was impressed by my visit to several wineries in the area, including Averill Creek vineyards, which happens to be the largest on the Island. I found myself sipping a very palatable Pinot Noir reserve on the slope of Mount Prevost, while taking in the spectacular view of Cowichan valley. It felt like I was sitting in Napa Valley, only without the pomp and the prices. Nothing like a relaxing weekend exploring the best kept secret in B.C.