We’ve been fans of Blue Grouse wines for years, and frequently cross the nearby border to buy bottles. However, in July, for the first time, we visited their classy estate winery. Blue Grouse is an acclaimed Cowichan Valley producer, with one of the oldest vineyards on Vancouver Island. Blue Grouse Estate Winery’s philosophy is “stewardship.” Their vineyards are all sustainably farmed. During our visit, our charming, knowledgeable host Vanessa Wheaton poured five wines for us – three whites, a sparkling rosé and one red. These are just a small sample of many standout Blue Grouse wines.
In mid-August, we spent an entertaining and educational hour with Michelle Schulze at Venturi-Schulze Vineyards in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. Michelle is such a character, and as authentic as it gets. She shared lots of fun stories and good wine with us. Michelle manages the vineyards and works closely with her step-father, Giordano Venturi, to make the wine. Her mother Marilyn is hands-on, a scientist excelling in vinegar production. Venturi-Schulze was the third licensed winery on Vancouver Island in 1993. As well as 100% estate-grown wines, you’ll find ancient-method balsamic vinegar and jams. Moreover, the late, great Ron Zimmerman of well-known The Herbfarm imports Venturi-Schulze wines and vinegars for his restaurant near Seattle. And Venturi-Schulze Zeigelt is very popular with Victoria’s Hanks *a restaurant.
Last month, we visited Unsworth Vineyards, on the southeast corner of Vancouver Island, for the first time. This beautiful winery in the Cowichan Valley offers outstanding wines and warm hospitality. The First Nations Salish translation of ‘Cowichan’ means warm land. Certainly, temperatures in the valley are typically warmer than anywhere else in Canada. The late Canadian chef and author, James Barber named the area “Canada’s Provence.” As a result of the mild, Mediterranean-like climate, rich volcanic and glacial soil, and rolling hills, the wines feature a distinctively pronounced minerality. Friendly and knowledgeable Hospitality Manager Karen Newington poured eight stellar Unsworth wines for us, including three that are made from grapes unique to Vancouver Island. Read on for details.
We continue to increase our knowledge and excitement about BC wines. Last week, we drove to my hometown Vancouver to attend a Wines of BC tasting, Swirl Around BC. Coming on the heels of our recent, successful Okanagan trip, we looked forward to more BC wines to experience. We were not disappointed. More than 50 wineries poured new releases that showcased the diverse terroir in BC. Our favorite wine of the day: Black Hills 2020 Ipso Facto. Two sparklers also caught our attention: Tinhorn Creek Blanc de Blanc 2018 and Tantalus Blanc de Blanc 2019. Read on for more about these and other BC wines we appreciated.