A Welcome Feast Awaits

This is the place where terroir and the salty brine of the ocean fuse with innovation and creativity. It is a place of bounty and a diverse culinary culture that makes the Vancouver Island region so individual. Bring only a good appetite and an appreciation for talent.

Mild temperatures and a year-round growing season have encouraged the food and drink artisans of the region to fully explore their potential. Their bold innovations have created a special flavour destination for travelers.

So many choices – wine, mead, cider, and premium spirits. Enjoy tasting rooms (at least three-dozen), white linen restaurants, sun-drenched patios, brewpubs, farmgates, country markets, specialty food and wine shops. Take a tour led by food and drink experts or give over to full immersion at one of the annual wine, beer or food festivals. Meet the makers, learn about their craft.

Simple, fresh and local nourishment is the way here and has been for millennia. A new generation of talented entrepreneurs – many professionally schooled, others enjoying a second career dedicated to their passion – have established themselves in recent decades to work alongside long-time veterans. Like the Native Peoples who have lived here for thousands of years, they seek a harmony between their work and nature.

Local is cherished by home cooks and chefs, who build menus around availability and cellar offerings. The craft breweries pay homage to centuries-old techniques, often bending those rules to create something uniquely regional. Our orchards and apiaries provide the fruit and nectar for cider, brandy and mead. This remarkable gastronomic sustainability also includes distilleries making premium gin, whiskey and vodka.

The region has been named one of the world’s best island getaways by readers of Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveler magazines. Stop into the Visitor Centres across the region for maps, tips and accommodation information. Experiencing the region’s finest food and drink nurtures the whole being.

Past Lives

Long before there were wineries and restaurants, there were First Nations villages throughout Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. The Coast Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Kwakwaka’wakw harvested clams, oysters, crab and salmon from the Salish Sea. From the land, they ate venison and berries, mushrooms, bulbs and roots.

European settlers began arriving in the 1840s and cleared the land for farming, producing dairy products, meat, grain, vegetables and fruit. The most independent found their way, and like those before them, discovered a generous land.

The first commercial vineyard was established in the Cowichan Valley in 1970 and the Island’s first winery opened in 1992. Today, some 80 vineyards cultivate grapes for over 40 wineries. Canada’s first modern in-house brewpub began serving craft ales in Victoria three decades ago and meaderies and cideries followed right behind.