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Wines and Vintners from Vancouver Island British Columbia

Red-yellow vine leaf
Red-yellow vine leaf

Not everyone associates Vancouver Island on the west coast of British Columbia in Canada immediately with wine and winemakers. For most, the island is more like rough coasts, pristine nature and whales and bears, which you can observe in the wild.

Fertile island Vancouver Island

But Vancouver Island offers more. Due to the mild climate, especially in the southern and central part of the east side of the island, plants thrive here that are otherwise expected in completely different regions. The Cowichan Valley region in the southern half of the Vancouver Islands is a veritable fruit and vegetable garden whose fertility in the course of settlement history has created many farms, many of which have been owned by the same family for generations.

How did the winemakers bring the wine to Vancouver Island?

And they like to try something new on Vancouver Island! So it happens that many newcomers tried on the island off the coast of British Columbia in the vineyards. Very few of them had experience in growing wine and often embarked on an adventure as they began to experiment with different types of wine. The first wines were made in the twenties of the last century from native berries - actually a sin in the eyes of purist winemakers from other wine regions in the world.

The first commercial wine was grown in 1970 south of Duncan in the Cowichan Valley. With provincial support, a test project was launched in which more than 100 different wines were tested for cultivation on Vancouver Iceland. Pinot Gris, Auxerrois and Ortega turned out to be the most promising varieties.

And so finally opened 1992 the first commercial winery its gates in the most fertile valley of the island, in the Cowichan Valley. From these beginnings, almost 80 vineyards have emerged on which grow wines from more than 40 wineries. Part of it is located on the Vancouver Island offshore Gulf Islands, which - like the island vintners - enjoy the sheltered and mild climate on the east side of Vancouver Island.

Wines from Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands

Few know that these regions of Vancouver Island have the same climate as France's best wine regions with warm summers and mild winters. And the amount of precipitation is - because of the upstream mountains in the west - not very high. Some of the wines that thrive on Vancouver Island are:

Pinot Noir

The red grape from Burgundy is the most planted wine on Vancouver Island. The wine is particularly popular also because it is good to drink with local foods such as salmon or lamb.

Maréchal Foch

This grape is resistant and also keeps out cold. It gives a full, earthy red wine with rich color that goes well with grilled meat and stew.


This grape with Spanish sounding name is a cross between German wines: Müller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe, which are also grown on the island, gave this new breed. Ortegatrauben make a light, flowery wine with a light citrus taste, which tastes particularly good to mussels and crab, which is plentiful on the island.

Pinot gris

The Pinot Gris is a popular grape in Alsace and Oregon and is processed on the island in two different ways: Gris matured in oak barrels gives a rich and spicy wine. If the grape matures in other barrels, a light, sometimes semi-dry wine is produced.

Source: Vancouver Island Tourism and on-site research

Text: © Copyright Monika Fuchs, TravelWorldOnline

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