Tasting Room Etiquette
The best way to enjoy a day of wine tasting is to designate a driver or take a tour.
Make a Plan: Random sampling gives a good overview, but some people narrow their interests and taste only a specific varietal or whites or reds or bubbles.
Fees: Some wineries charge a modest tasting fee (usually posted), which is transferred to any purchases.
The Bucket: Most swallow their wine, but some spit it out in the counter top bucket. Others use it to toss their unwanted wine or water used between tastes.
Purchasing: If buying, bring a cooler. Wine stored in a hot car can literally blow its cork. Once home, allow wine to rest a few weeks to overcome “bottle shock.”
Eating: Depending on the license, some wineries sell whole bottles to enjoy on their patio. You supply the picnic.
Children and Pets: Make sure kids and dogs are respectful as these are working farms with moving farm equipment, electric fences, and resident animals.
Smoking and Fragrances: It is illegal in B.C. to smoke in public places, including tasting rooms. Perfumes impede everyone’s ability to smell and taste so they’re not recommended.
At Venturi-Schulze Vineyards, you will find purists: a family growing wines, ancient method balsamic vinegar and other culinary products without pesticides or herbicides; products that reflect the purity of their environment and have a story to tell of the soil and the seasons, and of family’s sense of adventure in crafting them.
Their wines include their Brut Naturel bottle-fermented sparkling, bright whites such as the Primavera and Millefiori, deep and complex whites such as the Terracotta and Sassi, luscious reds such as the Pinot Noir and their naturally sweet amber Brandenburg No.3 wine.
Venturi-Schulze was chosen as one of Canada’s top 20 food artisans in 2013 for their ancient method balsamic vinegar by the Ace Bakery Artisan Incubator. In 2014, they will release their first 24+ year old Solera Select Ancient Method Balsamic Vinegar.
Electronic systems designer and teacher Giordano Venturi (born in Modena, Italy) and his microbiologist wife Marilyn (born in Queensland, Australia) left professional lives in 1987 to pursue a dream, starting a new life creating their natural, sustainable vineyard, winery and balsamic vinegary. Marilyn’s daughter Michelle Schulze returned in 1995 to learn the family business from the ground up. They do not use insecticides or herbicides and they don’t irrigate. They do whatever it takes to naturally overcome challenges, such as taking shifts vacuuming up wasps from the grape clusters rather than risk damage to their neighbour’s bees with the use of insecticides. They created a system of physical barriers rather than noise or chemicals to control birds and other wildlife. They installed a system of overhead bird netting over blocks of vineyard, creating a series of “raccoon crossings” between the blocks.
The trio remain stubbornly committed to the concept of “real” food grown with passion and respect for the soil, the environment and their customers. It takes an enormous amount of hand work to grow perfect grapes without the arsenal of chemicals so often used and they are lucky to have found a pristine place and a fine team of seasonal workers to help them achieve it. We invite you to visit and taste for yourselves. Check our website for fine restaurants that carry our wines. You will find a great assortment from fine dining to casual bistros.
Vancouver Island Expeditions Ltd.
A visit to Vancouver Island isn’t complete without going on one of our many year-round local food, craft beverage & estate winery tours!
Vancouver Island is rich with fertile land and a mild climate perfect for producing wine, cheese, fruits, vegetables, and much more. Sip by sip & nibble by nibble, we will explore the family owned vineyards, breweries, distilleries and local food producers that make our island such a wonderful place to live.
Let us show you our backyard and help you discover the places that will inspire stories that last a lifetime!
Muse grows grapes under the warm sun of the Saanich Peninsula, north of Victoria. We select grapes from notable vineyards in other regions of Vancouver Island, the Southern Gulf Island and the Okanagan Valley. This fine collection of high quality grapes from varying BC appellations blend, sing and dance together to create exceptional varietals with character, poise and vivacity.
The Ellman’s invite you to visit Muse Winery for a taste and tour of the vineyards. In the summer months enjoy the culinary delights of Bistro Muse, featuring a taste of the Island , while dining al fresco on the terrace in the vineyard. Keep an eye on the skies for the nearby nesting eagles soaring above. The Wine & Gift Shop full of original art, gourmet gifts and goodies, tasting baskets, gift certificates and of course… wine. The Tasting Room is open mid-April to the end of December; just check our website for the current hours of operation. The winery hosts a number of art and music events throughout the year, so watch our event calendar on the website or follow us on Twitter or Facebook to plan your visit. Think of Muse for your next private function. Your guests will be delighted to relax in the Tuscan ambiance of our vineyard setting with gourmet food paired perfectly with our wines. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Blue Moon Estate Winery
Our award winning fruit wines are crafted from 100% BC organic fruit, picked at the peak of the harvest and created in small batches. From the orchards and berry patches of our farm and our fellow farmers, come wines crafted from apples, pears, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and black currents.
Next time you’re looking for a dry to off-dry table wine to have with your meal, a refresher for the patio, or a dessert/appertif wine to linger with – surprise yourself with a delicious fruit wine from Blue Moon.
The winery and Blue Moon Kitchen, are located at Nature’s Way Farm, a sweet little blueberry farm, 5 minutes from downtown Courtenay or from the Inland Island Highway and 20 minutes from Mount Washington.
Please see the Food page of this site to find out about our special events at the farm.
Our winery name, Blue Moon, exemplifies the individuality and uniqueness of our wines. We know that our wines are an expression of the harvest and reflective of the fruit and the place that it is grown.
The adventure began in 2004 when George slipped a real estate ad for an organic blueberry farm onto my desk. “Are you nuts?” as I crumbled it up and tossed it into the recycle bin. We had just moved from the high Arctic and I had a “little” garden in mind, not 4,000 blueberry plants and a greenhouse operation! After playing with the idea for about a week in my mind I told George that I wanted to go look at it. He then said “Are you Nuts” but then he humoured me as men do and we drove to look at the farm. The rest is history they say.
It has been ten years of learning plant science, learning patience, growing fruit and 5 years since the selling of our first wine.
I am a Landscape Architect, interested in ethnobotany and herbal medicines and George, an Engineer who comes from a Swiss family who made wine out of anything available and who followed this tradition and made all sort of liquid beverages in University, embarked on a path of passion and risk. George took to the science and chemistry of wine and left me to make things “look pretty.” We both believe life is really short and once should embrace the opportunity to do what you love to do.
We know how important great fruit is to the finished product. We are committed to organic and sustainable farming methods. All of the fruit we use is hand-harvested, allowing us to choose only the very best fruit for our wine. We love to create unique and exciting wines and we try to let this come through in every bottle we produce.
Leave behind all of your preconceptions about fruit wine as you walk through our door. You will be treated to our well crafted fruit wines and a unique experience in our intimate tasting room.
Garry Oaks Winery
Classically-inspired wines with a spirit of adventure!
“This winery owns one of the best sites for growing grapes on the coast… [and has]… one of the best teams in the wine industry. Marcel is a natural in the vineyard. Elaine turns his well grown grapes into clean and complex wines.”
John Schreiner, BC Coastal Wine Tour Guide 2011
At Garry Oaks we grow our grapes naturally respecting the native conditions — sun, wind, soil – of our vineyard. We have been called meticulous and we freely confess to being so, from planning, planting and tending our vineyard, to coaxing out the unique and distinct qualities of each of our wines.
Garry Oaks wines truly express their site. Our whites carry a fine backbone of minerality from the stony fields in which they grow. Our reds are heightened by a touch of spice we occasionally taste in the air. All our wines have a trademark freshness that echoes the ocean breezes drifting over our island home.
Come visit our terraced vineyard overlooking the beautiful Burgogne Valley on Salt Spring Island, walk our labyrinth, and taste our award-winning wines.
Marcel Mercier and Elaine Kozak, Proprietors
Grape Grower and Wine Maker
“Among the artisan cheeses, family farms and dreadlocked inhabitants of dreamy Saltspring Island, you’ll find this tiny four-hectare estate winery that does us all proud. For those looking for a pinot gris with some richness, soak up this version full of nectarines, buckwheat honey and meyer lemon.” MacClean’s Magazine, 2013
Bright, aromatic dry white wine made from a blend of Gewürztraminer and Chardonnay. This rich smooth wine offers a juicy fruit nose and fresh peach, melon and ginger.
Vivacious dry rosé made from estate-grown Pinot Noir and Zweigelt grapes showing flavours of crushed strawberries and fruit punch with spicy notes (think Provence).
Elegant, silky riff on a classic red Burgundy. Aromas of red berry, something floral (roses? violets?) and smoke lead to flavours of raspberry and cherry livened by a touch of mint, tea and black pepper.
Vivacious, quaffable red wine made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Zweigelt. This light red wine surprises with a kaleidoscope of cherry-berry, spice and toasted oak flavours.
Lush, fruit-forward deeply colored red wine made from estate-grown Zweigelt grapes (the first grown on the coast). This wine shows black cherry, floral and spice flavours with smoky vanillin notes. No mistaking the gender of this wine (we call it wine with cleavage).
Sea Star Estate Farm and Vineyards
You are invited to visit our tasting room and savour the wines our skilled and passionate winemaker Ian Baker has carefully crafted for your enjoyment. Taste for yourself why sommeliers from many of British Columbia’s best restaurants are choosing Sea Star wines for their customers. We are proud that 90% of the grapes used to make our wines are organically grown here on Pender Island. Perhaps you may choose to purchase a bottle to share in our licenced picnic areas, and enjoy the musical events and Art Exhibitions scheduled for your appreciation. Or join us when the “Cafe at Large” food truck will be providing excellent lunches, brunches and tapa choices 3 days a week. We also host the Wednesday Winery Market offering local fare including garden produce, fresh baking & preserves, fresh cut flowers and creations from island artisans.
We believe the 26 acre property is one of the most beautiful vineyards in British Columbia. Our upper vineyard beside the Winery terraces up to Mount Menzies and the lower vineyard cascades down to the beach. Tours can be arranged of both vineyards, the winery, and the Vintner’s terrace.
Our 2015 Portfolio includes 9 wines for you to enjoy:
- Stella Maris – Our blended Estate white wine aspires to live up to the name “Star of the Sea”. Estate grown Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Ortega and Schönberger blended perfectly together.
- Siegerrebe – A delicious aromatic Germanic grape which Ian has crafted into this enticing dry wine providing crisp acidity with hints of spice as well as peach, apricot and grapefruit.
- Ortega – A dry version made with this aromatic Germanic grape hinting of floral notes along with grapefruit, apricot and melon and it has a crisp clean finish.
- Blanc de Noir – The Pinot Noir grapes are cold soaked on the skins and then pressed embellishing this refreshing wine with it’s appealing light rose colour. Hints of strawberry, cranberry and pomegranate.
- Encore – Carefully chosen vineyards in the sunbaked Oliver and Osoyoos regions of B.C. are the sources for the exceptional quality Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes crafted into this rich Meritage blend.
- Salish Sea – A blend of Ortega and Siegerrebe presenting the aromas of tropical fruit along with a fresh acidity creating a wine that is an excellent partner to seafood dishes.
- Estate Reserve Pinot Noir – Grown on the sun drenched upper terraces, aged in medium toast French Oak presenting black and white pepper, cherry, currant and coca.
- Poetry – Our Estate red dessert wine is a blend of Maréchal Foch and Island blackberries. This wine lends support to the expression that wine is “Poetry in a bottle”.
- Prose – Our Estate Riesling grapes embellished with Heritage Pender Island apples. Riesling is an aromatic grape presenting green apple and fruit notes, so it was a perfect match.
Sea Star Vineyards is a developing farm, and our Babydoll Southdown sheep are a popular attraction – the friendliest, best looking and most environmentally conscientious “lawn mowers” you’ll ever met. They are small stature sheep and well-suited to vineyard and orchard grass and weed control. You can’t get much more organic and sustainable than this ! Hudson is our “Platinum Retriever“ who will welcome you when you arrive. He takes his responsibility as official “Greeter” very seriously. His new companion is Hope, a Golden rescued by the SPCA and now enjoying the farm life.
In addition to grapes, we also grow a variety of fruit: kiwis, figs, honeyberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Fruit trees include: sweet and tart cherries, apples, peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines. When the California poppies are in bloom the hillsides are awash in orange blossoms.
We look forward to your visit to the Winery, and please check our website for updates on the locations of wine stores, resorts and restaurants that offer our wines to their customers and guests. Our Tasting Room hours varies throughout the year so please refer to our website for updates.
Damali Lavender & Winery
Experience the beautiful vision that is Damali, our family-owned craft winery and lavender farm. From the Tasting Room, sip award-winning wines while overlooking the lavender and vineyard. Wander the lavender fields and gardens, walk the labyrinth, or have a picnic basking in our oasis of tranquility and abundance. Sustainable farming practices produce top quality fruit that when combined with a hint of lavender, form the basis of our signature wines. Visit the Lavender Shoppe, where the scent of lavender surrounds you and culinary and body products Indulge your Senses… Savour the Lifestyle!
Merridale Cider, Bistro, Orchard Spa, & Distillery
Merridale is a delicious destination in the Cowichan Valley—an apple orchard, craft cider house, small batch distillery, and wedding and event venue.
Learn about the production of cider and spirits through a tour. Stroll the orchard while the kids search for faeries living amongst the cider apple trees, and then step up to the tasting bar for a guided tasting of our cider, spirits, or fortified ciders. Shop for local artisan items in the farmhouse store. Celebrate a special occasion with family and friends at a unique and beautiful venue. Experience glamping on Vancouver Island with a stay in one of our yurts. Check our website for upcoming special events, like our Sunday Pizza Nights. Pets are welcome!
In our bistro, enjoy local cuisine, a large patio overlooking our orchard, and, of course, apple cider hand-crafted just steps from the bistro’s kitchen. This authentic Vancouver Island restaurant combines cider pairings and seasonal menu items inspired by nearby Cowichan Valley farmers, vintners, and cheese-makers. Bring home delicious baked goods made fresh that morning in our brick oven.
Merridale is located in Cobble Hill, in the Cowichan Valley, on the southeast coast of Vancouver Island, about 40 minutes north of Victoria and 1 hour and 20 minutes south of Nanaimo. Open daily.
Blue Grouse Estate Winery
Come now and enjoy Blue Grouse’s classic wines, overlooking one of the Island’s oldest vineyards. And visit us again when our brand new tasting room opens in Spring of 2015.
Once the preferred habitat of Blue Grouse, the 45 acres of Blue Grouse Estate are tucked away on a sunny slope of Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley, which is believed to take its name from a First Nation’s word meaning “the warm land”. A fitting name, as the valley enjoys Canada’s warmest mean temperature. The terroir encompasses wind protection by evergreen trees, an all-Southern exposure, a combination of clay and gravelly soil, and the nurturing of pure air and spring water.
As one of Vancouver Island’s oldest estate vineyards and a long time family-owned winery, Blue Grouse produces exceptional Cowichan Valley wines which express their place of origin – and a lot of personality, to boot! Elegant, fresh, cool-climate style, rich in balanced acidity, and intense in flavor, Blue Grouse wines are meant to be enjoyed and sure to be remembered.
Our new waterfront location opens May 2016! See how we craft premium cocktail spirits. Taste our award-winning products and enjoy them in innovative cocktails
– with a bite – in our lounge.
In the heart of the Comox Valley, on a slope facing the Georgia Strait, 40 Knots Vineyard & Estate Winery crafts wines distinctly shaped by a windswept, sun-soaked microclimate.
40 Knots was first established in 2005, by a retired Tug Boat Captain who bought the property so that he could be close to the ocean. At first nothing grew in the sandy, gravel based soil. Not until the Captain discovered that this gravel plateau was perfect for growing grapes. With a microclimate that is generally hotter than the surrounding area, a sand and gravel based soil, and a windswept ocean location to keep the grapes dry, 40 Knots has become Comox Valley’s largest vineyard and winery.
Named for the gale force winds that often strike the coast, 40 Knots embraces its unique microclimate, adorning its label with swallows as a symbol of home. With wines like Whitecaps, Sea Haven, and Spindrift, the connection to the wind and sea is undeniable.
When Owners, Brenda Hetman-Craig, and Layne Craig purchased the winery in 2014 they recognized the natural elements which made this vineyard and winery so special. They continue to nurture this terroir with environmentally ethical farming practices, augmented by Layne’s background in agriculture. They also make use of traditional wine making methods under the direction of esteemed chief wine maker Matt Dumayne of Okanagan Crush Pad.
With dual successful business management careers and Layne’s background in agriculture, Brenda and Layne were drawn to the beautiful Comox Valley, where they could make a change, reconnect with their roots, and create a family farm business that could last generations. With its proximity to a vibrant tourism and economic development community – not to mention the Canadian Forces Base, 19 Wing Comox, which speaks to Layne’s piloting soul – 40 Knots was simply too good to pass up.
Now Brenda and Layne get to spend their days with customers in the cellar tasting lounge, touring the farm and facility, meeting industry customers at their place of business, or serving at wine festivals and events.
Not only that, but they get to produce distinct, lively, yet balanced wines bursting with aromas and lingering flavours. 40 Knots also offers their Stall Speed line, drawing inspiration from Layne’s piloting experience, Stall Speed offers a robust, full-bodied red and aromatic Merlot Ice Wine.
With their unique island placement, 40 Knots has dynamic views to accompany their rich and versatile wines. Visitors can enjoy the cellar tasting lounge, vineyard terrace, wine shop, and winery tours, or decide to use the remarkable space as their next event venue.
The diverse array of attractions offered by the Vineyard means every day is different for Brenda and Layne. Full of new encounters, discoveries, and challenges. And with family and community at the forefront of every decision, Brenda and Layne are building a legacy that can help define the Comox Valley, while forging a path that they can share with their daughters and grandchildren.
Nestled in the foothills of Mill Bay, surrounded by pasture and minutes away from the Pacific Ocean, lies Unsworth Vineyards. The winery’s pristine Cowichan Valley setting provides the perfect coastal climate for growing some of the world’s finest and most unique wine grapes. Panoramic views, a relaxed ambiance and seasonal entertainment combine to make Unsworth Vineyards an essential stop on any wine tour.
Next to the winery’s tasting bar, a 119-year old farm house has been beautifully renovated to accommodate an award-winning restaurant, a casual and elegant bistro serving natural local foods. Visitors and locals alike are invited to experience the terroir cuisine of the Cowichan Valley through cooking classes, chef’s discussions overlooking the vineyard, and garden tours among the heritage apple and walnut trees in the winery’s orchard.
Unsworth Vineyards; Come Celebrate the Best of Local Food & Wine!
Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse
Sea Cider is a farm-based cidery located on the Saanich Peninsula just minutes from Victoria, on Vancouver Island. Our ten acre farm is home to over 1,300 apple trees, made up of over 50 varieties of heritage apples.
Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse has also become one of the top agri-tourism attractions in Victoria and Vancouver Island. Relax at our ciderhouse, and drink in the panoramic water views overlooking our orchard across the Haro Straight to James Island. The Ciderhouse is open for tastings and tours year round 11 to 4. Sea Cider is also the perfect venue for large and small weddings and corporate events and family functions. Enjoy a flight of ciders paired with organic cheese and other local delectables. Top off your visit with a tour and browse our selection of hand crafted farm product.
Averill Creek Vineyard
Averill Creek is the largest estate winery on Vancouver Island located in the heart of the Cowichan Valley wine region. Established in 2001, our vineyard consists of 30 acres of vines including 7 different varietals; Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Gewürztraminer, Marechal Foch, Cabernet Foch and Cabernet Libre. We are dedicated to producing premium quality, single vineyard wines expressive of our region’s cool climate terroir. We offer 11 different estate-grown grape wines (sparkling, white & red) and 3 dessert wines produced from locally sourced berries. Our wines have received many accolades over the years, particularly our 2009 Reserve Pinot Noir, which was named one of the top 20 wines in British Columbia in 2012.
What to expect:
Our facility includes a modern tasting room where our friendly, knowledgeable staff can guide you through a complimentary tasting of 5 of our wines. Our onsite wine shop offers wines, gifts, accessories and light snacks for purchase. Our garden patio picnic area provides spectacular ocean and valley views. We do not have a restaurant, however, visitors are welcome to bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy outdoors with their favourite Averill Creek wine. We offer a daily selection of wines by the glass and our complete wine portfolio by the bottle.
We welcome groups. Guided tours of the winery facility can be arranged for groups of 10 or more at a cost of $8 per person plus GST. Reserved picnic space is also available for groups on request. Tours must be prearranged by contacting the winery at email@example.com, or 250-709-9986.
Driving Directions from Highway 1 (Main Island Highway):
From the Island Highway #1, turn WEST onto Highway 18 (north of Duncan), and follow the highway for 3 km. As you drive past the golf course to the left of the highway, keep an eye out for North Road on your right. Turn right onto North Road, keep left, and the Averill Creek signs will guide you to the winery.
Please enter the code listed at the pin pad to open the gate.
Tasting room open daily, 11am to 5pm
Please call for winter hours.
Millstone Winery is located just on the edge of Nanaimo, along the Millstone River. The winery boasts an old plantation style home, and a production facility built from re-claimed timbers. With a love of wine, music and food you can enjoy our wines with thin crust wood-fired pizzas, and live music on the patio (weekends from May-Oct) www.millstonewinery.ca for a schedule of guests
Longwood Brewery & Tasting Room
Nestled into the heart of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, this small brewery has a bigger heart than most. Our goal is to create not only beer that we are proud to drink, but beer that all our friends are proud of, too.
It doesn’t matter if you are a first-timer or one of our regulars at the Tasting Bar, feel free to pull up a stool and sample the Longwood Line Up. Easily accessible, we are located just off the Nanaimo Parkway. Our friendly and amazing staff will impress you with their vast knowledge about Longwood’s recipes and will definitely help you find your perfect beer. Here at Longwood, we source locally to not only benefit our beer but it brings growth to the economy in the town we call home. Some might call us Obsessively Local and we wouldn’t disagree.
This is a place for fun, beer, and a little bit of business.
Tasting room hours: Wed – Fri 2-6pm and Sat 12-5pm
Luxury Wine Tours by L.A. Limousines
Relax and enjoy the beautiful countryside of the Saanich Peninsula or Cowichan Valley as we whisk you and your guests away in luxury. You will travel some of the best picturesque scenes of the South Island as we take you to the finest wineries, distillery and Cider Houses that the Island has to offer. Included in your tour is a picnic lunch or dinning at a local bistro.
Add a sense of historic romance to your stay by choosing one of our unique, heritage, bed and breakfast inns where personal touches and extra attention to detail match the magical ambiance of your accommodations.