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.