The Cowichan Valley is a magical little pocket of Vancouver Island. The name “Cowichan” comes from the Hul’q’umi’num word “shquw’utsun” which means “to warm one’s back in the sun” and “Quw’utsun”, the name given to the valley by the Quw’utsun people. Uniquely located in the only maritime Mediterranean climatic zone in Canada, Cowichan has the warmest, year-round temperatures in the entire country, so it’s no wonder that this valley is home to some incredible vineyards. In August of 2020, the British Columbia Government announced the creation of the Cowichan Valley sub-region, the first time a region outside of the Okanagan has been given such distinction. This incredible valley is not only a wine destination but also one of the epicenters on Vancouver Island for forward-thinking, farm-to-table cuisine. During the summer, the Cowichan Valley’s vineyards are in full swing and what better way to really get a ‘taste’ of this beautiful Valley than visiting one of the many beautiful wineries that dot the landscape of Cowichan and produce some award-winning wines?
While you are staying in the Cowichan Valley, Cheers Cowichan Tours is your best bet for amazing wine tour packages and friendly service. With many local pickup locations, this tour is an ideal way for you to see more of the Cowichan Valley. If you want to spend a day visiting vineyards and learning all about winemaking in Cowichan, the full-day tour is for you! With this package, you can visit 3-4 wineries, enjoy tastings, be treated to lunch at one of several local spots and have access to a barrel room tour! If you prefer a truncated version, the afternoon tour is the perfect option. Spend a few hours in the afternoon touring 3 wineries, have access to tastings and enjoy the ride around the Cowichan Valley. If you prefer to customize a tour, the lovely owner and operator, Susan is happy to work with you to accommodate your ideas and help you create your ideal tour!
Victoria may be a beautiful city that has so much for visitors, there is something to be said for stepping out of the Capital Region and exploring other parts of this beautiful island. For guests staying in Victoria, Vancouver Island Wine Tours offers wine tours of the Cowichan Valley with convenient downtown Victoria pickup and drop off locations. As you head north on the Malahat, you’ll be able to see the stunning views from the highway that look down on to the Saanich Inlet, across to the lush forests of Brentwood bay, out to the Salish Sea and watch as the landscape changes from sea vistas and forested tunnels to open, bucolic scenes. If you are looking for an in-depth experience, you’ll want to book a full day tour where you will visit 4 wineries, do multiple tastings, enjoy lunch overlooking the vineyard, learn how to pair food with wine and tour the vineyard. If you’re interested in something more bite sized, the afternoon tour allows you to visit 3 wineries, do multiple tastings and have some time to walk through the vineyard. Either way, you’ll have a wonderfully informative time and be able to enjoy the scenic drive.
Choosing a Cowichan Valley wine tour that will pick you up right near your Nanaimo rental property is a great way to get out there and explore more of the Island in comfort and experience incredible wines at stunning vineyards. From a central pickup location in Nanaimo, you can hop aboard and enjoy the 45 minute drive taking in the scenery. On this tour, you will visit 4 wineries, learn about the history of winemaking in the Cowichan Valley, discover what varietals are grown here and why, enjoy a delicious lunch at a local farm-to-table restaurant and soak up the beauty of the Valley.
If you’re not keen on a tour and would rather stop in and visit a Cowichan Valley vineyard independently, we’ve made a short list of our must-visit vineyards!
Set on 50 acres overlooking a manmade lake, this expansive and scenic vineyard is truly breathtaking. Originally an ordinary farm, today Enrico boasts several varietals including Pinot Gris, Ortega, and Cabernet Libre, to name a few. With a state-of-the-art winemaking facility, beautiful tasting room and patio, Enrico Winery is truly a must-visit. Here you can do wine tastings, go on self guided tours and then enjoy a picnic next to the picturesque lake.
With pastoral landscapes and panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, Unsworth Vineyard is a picturesque Cowichan Valley winery. With a focus on growing disease tolerant and quick ripening varieties suitable for the Cowichan climate, it’s no wonder that Unsworth produces award-winning wines. Here you’ll find Marechal Foch, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and even Blattner varietals. Visit the tasting room, take a tour of the vineyard and stop into the restored hundred-year-old farmhouse turned restaurant and bistro for a bite to eat.
Cherry Point is one of the oldest wineries in the area as it was originally established in 1989 and became a licenced winery in 1994. This much-beloved, 34 acre vineyard has implemented European practices of growing and producing wine to great success. Today, the 12 wine varietals produced resolutely reflect the terroir of the land as they are solely dictated by the soil and weather patterns rather than relying on modern irrigation systems and other growth-promoting practices. At Cherry Point, you can enjoy tastings, join a tour and learn more about their growing philosophies, enjoy lunch or dinner at the bistro, walk through the property and pick up a few estate wines to enjoy and share!
In 1994, Roger Dosman began growing the first grapes on the property and was determined to pioneer grape growing in the Cowichan Valley. Today, Zac Brown and Julie Powell own and operate Alderlea and have been honing their processes and production since purchasing the land in 2017. Not only does this lovely vineyard produce some incredible cool-climate wine but where Alderlea is situated in the valley creates a microclimate and therefore, are able to produce some surprising warmer-climate varietals, such as Merlot. Step into the converted barn for tastings, stroll through the property and learn more about their land and process from the friendly and helpful staff