With BC in Phase 3, this summer is a great time to explore local and see what our great province has to offer! BC is well known for the wine region in the Okanagan. But did you know there is a growing scene on Vancouver Island as well? Get out to Cowichan Valley and visit Blue Grouse Winery for a great wine tasting experience!
About Cowichan Valley
The best spot for wine on Vancouver Island is in Cowichan Valley. Located between Victoria and Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley is a foodie’s paradise due to its fertile lands. The closest city is Duncan which has plenty of restaurants and cute B&Bs to make a perfect base for exploring wineries.
Although Cowichan Valley is not as warm as the Okanagan, the influence of global warming will make this region a spot to watch for. Recently, the area was named a designated viticultural area which means these wines can have the label “DVA Vancouver Island” if it meets the criteria. There are 8 wineries in the region right now and I had the chance to visit Blue Grouse Winery during my road trip.
Blue Grouse Winery
Blue Grouse Winery has been in operation since the 1990s. The Brunner family bought the estate in 2013 and has since revitalized the tasting room and the brand. There are two collections available: Blue Grouse and Quill. The Blue Grouse line up uses estate only grapes while the Quill line up includes grapes sourced from other BC destinations such as the Okanagan.
None of their wines are available at the BC liquor store, although some are available through private liquor stores. When I go visit wineries, I like to pick ones where it’s more exclusive and can’t be found by just going to liquor stores. Each year, they only produce on average about 4,500 cases!
The Tasting Experience
It’s really exciting that wineries are open again for tastings. They’ve put extra cleaning and spacing precautions in place to allow for a safe and enjoyable experience. Tastings are only available by appointment so make sure to book ahead online!
They offer a tasting of 3 wines for $5 or 5 wines for $10. There’s also an option of buying a bottle to enjoy on the patio while you bring your own food in. All of the tastings are seated and situated outside on their beautiful patio with views of the sloping vineyard.
I went for a tasting of 5 wines and it included 2 whites, 1 rose, and 2 reds. We were given a fact sheet of all the wines, and it also included space for you to write tasting notes if desired. My favorite wine was the 2019 Rose! Right off the bat, I smelled a whole field of strawberries. It was so juicy, fruity and perfect for summer!
More Photos of the Winery
This is the inside of the tasting room. There is also an upstairs and lounge area that would be great for large events.
If you want to stay overnight on the vineyard, you have the chance at the Grouse House. It’s currently closed due to covid, but the Grouse House is a 2 bedroom, fully renovated unit that would be perfect for a family.
Pictured here is Bailey Williamson, the winemaker of Blue Grouse. I got to tour the winery with him and learned lots of new facts! I love that he enjoys experimenting with wine. Like using this huge clay pot instead of a wooden barrel.
If you make a trip to Vancouver Island, definitely drop by Blue Grouse Winery for a wine tasting! I thought the wines were really delicious and I picked up two bottles to bring home. The tasting room is beautiful and a perfect spot to soak in the sunshine.