Saanich Peninsula Wine Tour
It is a little known fact that the first commercial winery in BC was not in the Okanagan but right here in sunny Saanich when in 1921 the Growers Wine Company planted fields of loganberries to produce their Logana wine.
Vancouver Island wineries have come a long way since their humble beginnings. It was the discovery of micro-climates that mirrored the conditions found in some of the best wine making countries of Europe that made it all possible. Today, Vancouver Island wines are recognized by International wine competitions in Canada, Europe and the United States. When you combine a vintner's passion, a perfect climate, with some of Europe's best known grape varieties, you produce superb, award winning estate grown wines.
With over 20 wineries on the Island we felt it best to start off on the Saanich Peninsula. Landing in Swartz Bay our first stop is at the Muse Winery and Bistro. Re-opening April 1, 2013, the Muse Winery is a must visit. Not only do they produce fine wines but in May the Muse Bistro will open providing seasonally fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Indoor and outdoor dining with a view overlooking the vineyards is a wonderful ambience for paired tasting plates or a full meal.
For those of us that enjoy a cold cider on a warm summer's day, you should spend an hour at the Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse. This tasting room has soaring ceilings and widows, vintage chandeliers and estate hewn tables providing a perfect environment to taste some of the best cider on the planet . Clearly a 'must see' destination.
Heading south we get on Old West Saanich Road and find Starling Lane Winery. This partnership of 3 families is open on weekends noon to 5, from May 12 to September 30. The small family run winery is located on an old heritage farm that has retained much of its character. These folks only produce small lots of award winning wine that is uniquely Vancouver Island and well worth the visit.
Further north on Old West Saanich Road is the Dragonfly Hill Vineyard. Named for the number of dragonflies that frequent the property, the winery produces limited production wines from some of the oldest vines on Vancouver Island. Located on a heritage farm alongside one of the original wagon trails make it a very restful place. The winery is open on weekend afternoons between mid-June and mid-September.
Almost next door you will see John and Cathy Windsor's De Vine Vineyards. This family run organic winery has one of the best views of the ocean and mountains on the Island. During the off season they are still open for prebooked appointments. Drop by and check out the largest planting of Gruner Veltliner, a luscious Australian white grape.
Off we go to Brentwood Bay and one of our favourite haunts, the Church and State Winery. Not only can you find award winning wines here but the Bistro provides a wonderful experience by making lunches from local ingredients and chosen to pair with their award winning wines. They will open mid-April for the season, Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 - 3:00. I can't wait to sit on the covered porch and enjoy a glass of white with their crispy wild halibut!
It's time to head for the Brentwood Bay Ferry for a voyage across the Saanich Inlet to Mill Bay and the next segment of our Vancouver Island wine tour in the South Cowichan Valley.
For some unknown reason our friends at Google are not recognizing the ferry crossing. It is the way to go as you avoid the long trek over the Malahat.