Looking to sip and slurp the best Vancouver Island Wines?
Our guide to the Wineries on Vancouver Island features detailed descriptions for the best vineyards in Cowachin Valley, Saanich Peninsula, Nanimo, Comox and Hornby & Denman Islands.
Plan a road trip of Vancouver Island to experience some of British Columbia’s most scenic wineries and cider houses.
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History of Vancouver Island Wineries
Winemaking on Vancouver Island began in the early 1920’s with wines produced from loganberries by the Growers’ Wine Company.
On Vancouver Island, grape winemaking really began to boom after a provincial government-funded trial – The Duncan Project – identified Pinot Gris, Auxerrois and Ortega as promising varieties for this unique seaside environment.
Today, the majority of Wineries on Vancouver Island are located in the Cowichan Valley and Saanich Peninsula. There are additional wineries near Nanimo, Comox and on some of the surrounding islands like Hornby and Denman.
The first winery on Vancouver Island was Zanatta Winery, which opened in 1992. Today, there are 32 licensed grape wineries covering a planted region of 432 acres.
Dobbernatinloves had an opportunity to chat with Vancouver Island wine expert Chris Turyk from Unsworth Vineyards. Turyk explained, “In August, 2020 the British Columbia government officially announced the creation of the Cowichan Valley sub-region on Vancouver Island. This is the first time a wine region outside of the Okanagan has been given such a distinction.”
He continued, “Some of the most planted grape varieties are Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir but there are hosts of others that have become local favourites including Ortega, Marachel Foch, Sauvignette and Petite Milo.”
The Cowichan Valley has Canada’s most moderate climate as it has the highest annual average temperature. Vancouver Island is a result of volcanic origin and ancient seabed uplifting followed by glaciation. This makes the soils of the island extremely diverse even across a small geographical area. Geology nerds will find silt-loams, clay loams, gravel, and other complex soil types.
Hotels Near Vancouver Island Wineries
The Wineries on Vancouver Island are spread out from the Saanich Peninsula near Victoria to Comox up north.
If you’re planning a road trip of the island, stay at one of these beautiful accommodations in Victoria or the Cowichan Valley.
- Fairmont Empress in Victoria: Vancouver Island’s most iconic hotel sits perched over Victoria’s scenic harbour. The 5 star luxury accommodation is an excellent home base for those visiting Victoria who are keen to plan day trips to the wineries in nearby Cowichan Valley and the Saanich Peninsula. The historic hotel offers chic suites, romantic spa, elegant bar and Victoria’s best Afternoon Tea.
- Blue Grouse House in Cowichan: One of Vancouver Island’s most popular wineries offers onsite accommodation. Book a vineyard retreat at Blue Grouse House and enjoy a two-bedroom suite, gas fireplace, modern kitchen and scenic outdoor patio.
- Emandare Vineyard Guest House in Cowichan: Located in Duncan, this luxurious winery accommodation features a fully furnished 950 sqft suite with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, front deck with BBQ and Jacuzzi hot tub.
Vancouver Island Winery Tours
There are plenty of great ways to explore the wineries on Vancouver Island. Organize your own road trip or book one of these popular tours led by local experts. Keen to avoid driving so you can sip with glee? Why not book one of these popular food & drink tours of Vancouver Island?
If you’re visiting Vancouver Island in the summer, we suggest planning your trip around the annual Cowichan Valley Wine Festival.
- Small Group Wine & Food Tour to the Cowichan Valley: This 6 hour tour visits 3-4 businesses in the Cowichan Valley. Guests enjoy fine wine, cider and Afternoon Tea.
- Private Small Group Cowichan Valley Wineries: Enjoy private transportation (up to 6 passengers) to the Cowichan Valley to visit 4 wineries on a day trip.
- Cowichan Valley Wine Tasting: Climb into an elegant Tesla and embark on a winery tour through Vancouver Island during this full-day, private wine and food experience. Guests visit up to 6 vineyards.
- Butchart Gardens Seaplane and 3-Course Dinner: This 4 hour tour features a 3-course dinner at Butchart Gardens via seaplane flight from Victoria Harbour.
- Gourmet Victoria Dinner & Drinks Tour: This 2.5 hour tour features stops at 4 local restaurants to sample gourmet dishes paired with wine, beer and cocktails.
- Vancouver Island Cycle Tour: This 12 hour biking tour includes stops to sample farm-fresh food and local wine.
Vancouver Island Wineries Near Victoria
If you’re visiting Victoria on holiday and pressed for time, head to the nearby Saanich Peninsula for a wine tasting day trip.
Just north of Victoria along the Saanich Peninsula, mild temperatures, fertile valleys and expert vintners offer quality wines across the spectrum.
These cluster of wineries near Victoria are conveniently located near the airport and ferry terminal to Vancouver. We suggest celebrating your arrival onto Vancouver Island with a tasting at one of these celebrated vineyards.
334 Walton Pl, 250-652-3782
Mike Rathjen and Colin Mann are the owners of Rathjen Cellars, one of the Wineries on Vancouver Island located in the Saanich Peninsula.
Rathjen described the history of the property, “The 15-acre property was a honey farm that dates back to the 1950’s. It was a local institution and I have customers coming in all the time regaling me with stories of the Babe’s Honey era. Once the original owners passed away, the property changed hands and it fell into disrepair. Colin’s family picked up the property in 2011 and did a beautiful job fixing it up and restoring the fields to gently sloping pasture. That’s when Colin and Mike started scheming about what to do with the 10,000 sq foot honey warehouse at the bottom of the property.”
Rathjen Cellars first vintage was in 2015 and its first wines were released during Christmas in 2017. In 2019 the winery and tasting room first opened to the public.
The Rathjen Winery and tasting room are housed in one third of the original honey warehouse. Rathjen added, “We’ve maintained the warehouse-industrial feel, but exposed the vaulted barn rafters, added several windows and a huge glass door to brighten up the space and built a 20 ft bar made of reclaimed timber and wrapped in white honeycomb tile.”
Rathjen is the Vancouver Island winery’s resident winemaker, “My favourite wines are ones that taste of a place and pair well with food. I like wines that are versatile and highly drinkable. To me these tend to be lower in alcohol, have bright acidity and something other than just fruit going on such as minerality or spice.”
1445 Benvenuto Ave, 250-652-2671
Church & State Wines is a Vancouver Island Winery that first opened its doors 15 years ago.
Located in the heart of the Saanich Peninsula, Church & State Wines is one of the largest winery buildings on the island.
Donica Jeffery from Church & State Wines shared the meaning being the name, “it is meant to embrace the idea of the head + heart. The struggle between the two, and delicate balance that is found.”
Resident winemaker Arnaud Thierry has been tending the vineyards since January, 2019. Growing up in France, Thierry was all but born into winemaking having spent much of his youth amidst the vines of Bordeaux.
From March to November, Church & State Wines operates a Tasting Bar and Bistro serving some of the best Vancouver Island Wines. The kitchen crafts a curated menu showcasing fresh local ingredients. Executive Chef Desiree Perrin pair Church & State Wines with dishes such as Baked Dungeness Crab Dip, Crispy Polenta Fries and handsome cheese & charcuterie boards.
6181B Old West Saanich Rd, 250-665-6983
In 2007, John and Catherine Windsor grew De Vine Vineyards & Spirits from a strong love of wine, community, and Vancouver Island. Along with a dedicated team of friends and family and 25 acres of overgrown farmland, a vineyard was planted.
De Vine Vineyards is unique on Vancouver Island for offering both fine wines and locally distilled craft spirits. Winemaker and Master distiller, Ken Winchester, lives on site to lovingly watch over the vintage German copper pot still, Brünhilde.
Visitors can sample vodka created from strawberries, gin crafted from wine grapes, rum distilled from honey, and whisky from island-grown malted barley.
The estate-grown vineyard is certified organic and has been farmed without pesticides or sprays since day one. Visiting wine lovers should skip over to the De Vine Vineyards tasting room to enjoy popular Vancouver Island Wine varietals Ortega, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris or Siegerrebe.
11195 Chalet Rd, 250-656-2552
Explore the best wineries on Vancouver Island with a stop at Deep Cove near downtown Victoria.
Deep Cove Winery website shares, “Husband and wife team, Elyse and Tasem Ramadan saw the promise in the terroir and for their young family when they decided to begin their journey in the winemaking business. Nestled between Horth Hill Regional Park and Deep Cove, the clay soil land is not only protected from wind and moderated by the Pacific overlooks, it offers the warmest spot in the region, advantageous for the ripening of the 3 acres of grapes that were originally planted almost 20 years ago.”
The estate vineyard has been committed to sustainable growing practices since 2017 and will continue to ensure that its stellar Vancouver Island wines are a true reflection of the beauty that British Columbia has to offer.
The scenic winery is one of the most romantic wineries on Vancouver Island to host an outdoor wedding. “We have a beautiful main event space, The Amphora Room, a versatile room with an intimate, yet expansive feel, vaulted ceilings and a flexible floor plan of 1800 sq ft. Open the double doors to the Vineyard terrace where the ocean breezes flows through the vineyard that surrounds you. Seasonally, we are also happy to offer our wooden open beam Winery Crush Pad; a beautiful unique outdoor covered location of 1200 sq ft.”
Deep Cove’s best Vancouver Island Wines include varietals such as Ortega, Pinot Gris, Marechal Foch and Schonburger.
9100 E Saanich Rd, 250-655-0075
Situated in the heart of North Saanich’s pastoral landscape, Roost Farm Winery near the Victoria Airport focucses on local food, wine, and sustainability.
Roost Farm Winery offers a popular bakery and cafe featuring fresh breakfast plates, homemade sandwiches, soups, pies and poutine. The Vineyard Bistro offers several Vancouver Island Wines by the glass, including Roost Farm’s Siegerrebe, Merlot & Syrah and Marechal Foch.
The Roost sits perched over 10 acres of farmland where farmers grow many items used to produce the food the chef’s in the Vineyard Bistro proudly serve. The wheat grown and milled on-site is used to bake breads fresh daily. The blueberries, sheep, and a unique vineyard, all add to the authentic experience enjoyed on this truly unique winery on Vancouver Island.
Roost Farm is one of the best Wineries on Vancouver Island for families. Treat the kids to breakfast or brunch before sipping a few wines at the onsite tasting room. Families can book fun Vineyard & Farm Tours, an opportunity to meet the resident sheep and chickens.
6409 Oldfield Rd, 250-208-8784
Symphony Vineyards first opened its doors as a Vancouver Island winery in 2012. Owners Lamont Brooks and Pat George has been farming the land with their family in Central Saanich since 1959.
The family grew over 20 acres of loganberries for Growers Winery, which was established in 1921 as the first commercial winery in British Columbia.
Symphony Vineyard planted its first vines in 2004 and focussed on crisp dry aromatic white wines, rosé, and lightly barrel aged fruit forward reds.
George explains the meaning behind the Vancouver Island wineries name, “Symphony Vineyards came from working the land and our feeling that the creation of wine from farm to glass has the emotion and physicality of the 4 movements of a classical symphony.”
George continued, “Our focus is very much on farming and winemaking. We sell nearly all our wine from the winery. We have the helping hands of a few long time employees and we bring on some volunteers for the celebrations of harvest.”
Hungry visitors can enjoy a small self-serve deli full of local snacks. Guests can create a platter topped with Vancouver Island cheese, charcuterie, smoked salmon, freshly baked baguette, crackers, chutney and wine jelly.
The Vancouver Island wineries grass patios are a great spot to sip and savour. Enjoy good conversation with friends while enjoying a scenic vineyard view.
Cowichan Valley Wineries
The majority of Vancouver Island wineries are located in the Cowichan Valley, located between Victoria and Nanimo. The Cowichan Valley wineries are a short one hour drive from downtown Victoria.
While many tourists visit the region on a day trip, we encourage wine lovers to book an overnight stay so you’re not rushing through the wineries and cider houses of Cowichan Valley.
The Cowichan Valley was historically a diary farming community and has been since the late 1800s. In addition there are now smaller diversified vegetable and mixed agriculture operations.
Due to its proximity to Vancouver and Victoria, the booming wine region on Vancouver Island has enjoyed a boost in popularity as a tourist destination and for people looking to relocate from the expensive Lower Mainland.
Visitors to Cowichan can enjoy unique wine tours, scenic biking and hiking trails, restaurant menus celebrating fresh seasonal flavours, kayaking and swimming in the Pacific Ocean and freshwater lakes in the valley and horseback riding.
Wineries in the Cowichan Valley are generally shielded from Pacific Ocean storms by nearby mountains and have a long growing season with low frost risk. The region has some of the best weather on Vancouver Island, known to receive up to 2000 hours of sunshine a year.
1751 Stamps Rd, 250-746-7122
Zac Brown and Julie Powell are the owners of Alderlea Vineyards. The duo purchased the property in 2017 but the vineyard has been growing grapes since 1994. The previous owner, Roger Dosman, had a vision to pioneer grape growing in a new region of British Columbia.
The Vancouver Island winery in Cowichan Valley is a converted barn featuring a tasting room that has a West Coast Indigenous theme. The winery’s name pays homage to the original name of the town of nearby Duncan.
Zac Brown is Alderlea Vineyard’s resident winemaker and has a penchant for making crisp, aromatic whites and cool-climate reds.
Powell explained, “Alderlea is probably the hottest vineyard site on Vancouver Island with a sloping, south-facing vineyard over a lake, in the rain shadow of Mt. Prevost. The location enables us not only to grow and ripen Pinot Noir, a fairly common wine for the Island, but also Merlot, a varietal not ordinarily found in a cool climate such as ours.”
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6552 N Rd, 250-709-9986
Andy Johnston is the founder of Averill Creek Vineyard in Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. The 30 acre vineyard was first planted in 2001, with its first vintage available in 2004.
Averill Creek’s 150-ton capacity winery is built into the side of Mount Prevost. With the help of designer Vasco Pavlov, Johnston embraced the opportunity to work with the inherent landscape, “Guided by gravity and slope, our facility incorporates three buildings structured together, allowing wine to flow down from one stage to the next without the need for pumps. This gravity flow method allows for gentle handling of delicate varietals – helping to retain their elegant characteristics,” said Johnston.
Resident winemaker, Brent Rowland, joined Averill Creek Vineyard in August of 2018. Brent’s focus is on producing quality Pinot Noir, having worked 20 international harvests at many leading Pinot Noir producers.
“The approach to my winemaking career was quite premeditated. I wanted to focus on Pinot Noir but didn’t want to go to Burgundy to learn a recipe. Instead, I chose to work at Estates that I felt were the best at taking the Burgundian philosophy and adapting it to their specific region, make intelligent,” said Rowland.
Averill Creek features a Tuscan-style terrace offering panoramic views of the ocean and the Cowichan Valley. Guests are encouraged to bring their own picnic, or grab one of their charcuterie boxes.
2182 Lakeside Rd, 250-743-3834
The Brunner family purchased Blue Grouse Estate Winery in 2020 from the Kiltz family. The Cowichan Valley winery was first founded in 1990 and its tasting room opened in 1993.
Blue Grouse Estate Winery is home to the some of the oldest vines on Vancouver Island. Pioneering British Columbian viticulturist John Harper planted an experimental vineyard on the site starting in 1986 with more than 150 different types of grape vines, some of which are still producing to this day. Some of these plantings are lesser known Vancouver Island Wines such as Bacchus, Müller-Thurgau, Pearl Of Csaba, and Black Muscat. The winery is the only known current producer of a Black Muscat wine in the country.
The current winery was completed in May 2015, constructed with the shape, colours and textures inspired by the blue grouse. The lovely curve of the grouse’s head and neck inspired the roofline. Inside the tasting room, a curved ceiling reminds visitors of a grouse’s belly, and the entrance highlights a beautiful shade of blue from the grouse’s tail feathers.
Bailey Williamson has been the resident winemaker at Blue Grouse Winery since 2012. Bailey guides the estate portfolio that includes Blue Grouse Estate Bacchus, Ortega, Pinot Gris, Siegerrebe, Black Muscat and Pinot Noir.
If you’re feeling hungry on your Cowachin Valley wine hopping adventure, Blue Grouse Winery offers cheese, charcuterie and veggie boards year round. During the Winter and Fall, guests can enjoy Soup Saturday from 12-3pm, where kitchen staff prepare homemade seasonal soups. Diners can enjoy a combination of soup, bread and a glass of wine for just $16.
During Spring and Summer, weekends are busy at Blue Grouse Winery. On Fridays, guests are invited to Friday Night Flights where three, 3oz glasses of wine are offered for $8 with accompanying food options that rotate weekly. On Sundays during the high season, guests enjoy Sunday EATS, lunch specials offered in partnership with local caterers and food trucks.
840 Cherry Point Rd, 250-743-1272
Cherry Point Estate Wines was originally established on Vancouver Island in 1989. The 34 acre property is currently owned and managed by Xavier and Maria Bonilla.
The Cherry Point vineyard in Cobble Hill became a licensed winery in 1994. The Bonilla’s adopt their wine philosophy using best practices from Europe. The 12 wine varietals produced are solely dictated by the land with respect to its soil qualities.
Cherry Point produces all estate wines, best enjoyed on its sun-soaked outdoor patio. The Cowichan winery’s scenic pastoral ambience and bistro double as a venue for weddings and special events year-round.
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3500 Telegraph Rd, 250-743-4100
Husband and wife team, Kennedy and Christine Saville manage Damali Lavender & Winery.
The Damali vineyard was originally planted in 2006. After converting the original barn into a winery, their first wines were released in Spring 2011. The vineyard contains varietals such as Cabernet Libre, Castel, Siegerrebe, and Pinot Noir.
Damali winemaker Kennedy Saville is currently working on his 5th vintage. Saville shared, “with combinations of estate grown fruit, grape, and flower, our wines are certainly unique and we’re not afraid to break the molds of traditional wine-making.”
In the orchard they also grow blackberries, raspberries, rhubarb and black currants for the purpose of wine making.
The Cowichan Valley winery is unique in that it is the only vineyard on Vancouver Island also growing lavender. Damali also produces fruit and grape wines, some of which are even flavoured with lavender!
Visit Damali Winery and you’ll find a farmstead-style building constructed with rustic wood, built in part with lumber fell from the land.
Over the years the Vancouver Island winery has evolved to offer a range of activities including a vineyard, tasting room, gift shop, labyrinth and orchards. Lavender remains a key facet of the business. With over 25 lavender varietals, guests are encouraged to take a self-guided tour.
Guests are encouraged to bring your own picnic which you can enjoy in our licensed picnic area.
6645 Somenos Rd, 250-746-3967
In 1999, the Deol family made the decision to move their wine operation from the Okanagan to Vancouver Island.
What was originally a 32 acre dairy farm located in North Cowichan has been transformed into a 20 acre vineyard. The family’s passion and focus is primarily on agriculture and cultivating the land using the experience and expertise they acquired in the Okanagan.
The Deol family originally launched their winemaking business to supply grapes to local wineries. In 2008, they expanded their operation, releasing their first vintage estate wine and opening their doors for public wine tastings.
A variety of vegetables and fruits are also grown and sold on the property, as well as the nearby Duncan farmers market.
1500 Freeman Rd, 250-743-2311
Divino Estate Winery’s owner Joseph Busnardo first opened the 40 acre vineyard on Vancouver Island in 1982.
Busnardo described the process of opening one of the first wineries on the island, “The drama of starting an industry in British Columbia that has just gone crazy and fighting the government at all levels makes for a good story. Ask the right person in the Okanogan where all the Merlot came from and the answer should be Busnardo. Right now we can boast having 25+ year old wines that are just awesome that not just anyone gets to have and soft light island wines that dance on your tongue!”
The Divino Estate Winery was constructed using the wood from the trees felled to plant the grapes. Today, the vineyards original barn is its warehouse.
Busnardo most enjoys producing traditional Italian-style wines with no added sulphites. Chardonnay, Trebbiano, Castel, Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio form the core of the mix of varietals on the Busnardo Vineyard.
6798 Norcross Rd, 250-597-4075
Emandare Vineyard is owned and operated by Mike and Robin Nierychlo. The couple purchased the 21 year old vineyard in 2013.
Mike explained, “We built the winery in 2014 and launched our first wines in 2015. Previously the vineyard had a very high quality reputation as a grape grower that supplied other wineries in the area. It didn’t have a winery itself. After searching for a place to live out our dream of growing wine and raising our family, we found this place that we now have to privilege to call home.”
Emandare Winery was built entirely by the Nierychlo family. It is close to 5 feet under ground, which keeps the temperature in the building very consistent. The A-Symmetrical roof line facilitates convection in the ceiling which sucks out hot air and pulls in cool air.
The wine shop, which stands in front of the Vancouver Island winery was an old workshop. Mike commented, “We stripped it right back to the slab and re-built it to look like it had always been there. We lined the feature walls with the old white cedar siding that used to be on the exterior. Our logo was laser burnt into old fir gate panels that previously hung just outside the building. Our bar was created by using the previous owners solid fir work bench. Our crush pad converts into a glass walled private tasting lounge during the summer months where we conclude private tours with a lovely sit down tasting.”
Mike described his Vancouver Island Wines as “Bright, fresh, crisp, juicy and clean. You could call our wines natural, but we much prefer to say that we just steward the wine and happen to do it naturally.”
Mike loves working with Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, which are best enjoyed on the winery’s patio during the warm summer months. Guests can pair their wine with a locally produced cheese and charcuterie platter.
3280 Telegraph Rd, 250-733-2356
The current owner of the Enrico Winery is Jim Smith. He acquired the Vancouver Island winery from his dad, Harry Smith the original owner.
The 54 acre property was originally purchased in 1999, when the land was used as a livestock farm. The slow conversion to a winery began in 2003 with land clearing and prep for the planting soon to follow. Posts, drainage, irrigation and field layout for the first 11 acres started early 2004.
Enrico Winery’s original planting consisted of Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Ortega, Cabernet Foch and Cabernet Libre. The first harvest was celebrated in 2009. Today the winery tends to over 23 acres acres of vineyards.
Enrico Winery’s General Manager Lorin Inglis explained, “In 2009, we converted one of the original buildings into our tasting room. Our tasting room is a favourite on the island for visitors as it offers a warm and friendly feel. We also have live music on Saturdays and Sundays staring early May and ending middle of October. Our small kitchen, which serves basic light meals keeps a smile on each customers face while they enjoy a wine tasting.”
Enrico Winery’s resident winemaker Daniel Cosman’s understanding of hybrid grapes has proven to be rewarding for the winery. Inglis added, “Many medals from Canada and United States adorn our shelves, including the prestigious Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in British Columbia Wines. Enrico winery is the only recipient of this award on Vancouver Island.”
3897 Cobble Hill Rd, 250-743-2330
Glenterra Vineyards, a popular Cowichan Winery, maintains 5 acres of sustainably dry farmed vineyards. No chemical herbicides, systemic fungicides or pesticides are used, only natural fertilizers with organic ingredients and composted pomace for the vineyard.
Additional grapes are purchased as needed from vineyards that use similarly responsible farming methods. Glenterra Vineyard’s farming practices include extensive canopy management to create airflow through our vineyard, which greatly reduces mildew and botrytis pressure, mechanical weed control under the vine rows to create a mulch which suppresses the weeds and creates organic matter and moisture as it breaks down.
Glenterra Vineyards is proud to have been farming Cowichan Valley Winery property in this eco-friendly manner for over 20 years.
Since their 2010 vintage, Glenterra’s winemaking has emphasized a minimalist and natural approach. There are no enzymes used at crush, indigenous yeast fermentation is utilized and no animal based fining products. So yes, these Vancouver Island wines are vegan friendly!
Popular Glenterra wines include Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer and several beautiful blends featuring Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Muller Thurgau, Ortega and Bacchus.
If you’re feeling hungry, Glenterra’s Vineyards is one of our favourite Cowichan Valley Wineries offering an onsite restaurant. Thistles Cafe offers indoor and outdoor patio dining. Its menu features West Coast Asian vibes such as soba noodle salad and prawn cakes.
1854 Myhrest Rd, 250-748-5622
Mark and Linda Halford first opened Rocky Creek Winery in 2005. The winery originally started on Rocky Creek in Ladysmith, British Columbia as the first home based winery in Canada.
The winery building is a former home, which was redesigned a few years ago to increase the spacing in the tasting room.
Linda shared, “Mark has always been making Vancouver Island wines but started originally producing with his grandfather and father. While working on the island in pulp and paper he saw the island was a growing wine region. We didn’t see the longevity of the pulp and paper industry so we decided to start our own winery.”
Linda added, “We took over vineyards that had many varietals because the farmers that planted them at the time didn’t know what would harvest. We also have one unique vineyard that has Spanish varietals such as Tempranillo and Albarino.”
Rocky Creek Winery produces wines on the dry side. They planted the estate vineyard primarily experimental to try for bolder reds. The Vancovuer Island winery has a picnic licence and offers locally produced snacks to purchase such as an artisan meat packs, candied local salmon and local cheeses.
2915 Cameron Taggart Rd #1, 250-929-2292
The Turyk family first opened Unsworth Vineyards in 2010. The Cowachin Valley winery would be Tim Turyk’s retirement project from the fishing industry.
Tim described the winery’s construction, “We wanted functionality for the winery. Purpose built and simply designed with some room to expand if necessary. Coming from the commercial fishing industry we wanted the production area to be simple and functional. The restaurant is in a 100 year old farm house that we thoughtfully restored into Unsworth Restaurant as a venue to showcase our wines with delicious local food.”
So what inspired the winery’s name? Unsworth is Tim’s mom’s maiden name. She was a local resident of Victoria and Shawnigan Lake and introduced the family to the area.
Unsworth Vineyard’s resident winemaker is Dan Wright, who joined the Vancouver Island winery in 2015. Dan was inspired by working at Beaux Freres Winery in Oregon, which makes some of the best Pinot Noir in the world.
Tim said, “Unsworth strives to make unmistakable high quality, cool climate coastal wines from Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and a small handful of other varieties that are grown and produced with upmost quality in mind. As a young region we still have much to explore and dial in.”
Unsworth Vineyards offers visitors various tours, from self guided to private tastings. Guests are invited to enjoy the winery’s beautifully landscaped tasting room patio as well as a pizza patio with a vineyard viewing area.
4235 Vineyard Rd, 250-743-5630
Giordano and Marilyn Venturi first established Venturi-Schulze Vineyards on Vancouver Island in 1988.
Marilyn explained, “Our homestead was one of the first in the area, having been built in 1893. Portions have been cleared and allowed to regrow over the years. The previous owners for 30 years never sprayed, so the property has been at least 62 years an oasis free of chemical pesticides and herbicides.”
The wee tasting room was designed by Victoria-based architect JC Scott and features locally salvaged maple and arbutus counters and windowsills created by local artisan Joe Gelinas.
The Venturi family share a passion for Pinot Noir, dry bottle-fermented sparkling, racy whites, and a unique process to create naturally sweet wine, the Brandenburg No.3.
Beyond wine, Venturi-Schulze Vineyards also produces balsamic vinegar using an ancient method from Modena, Italy. Visitors can enjoy a wine tasting and purchase the families vinegar and house-made jams in the retail shop.
5039 Marshall Rd, 250-748-2338
Vigneti Zanatta (now called Zanatta Winery) was the first grape winery to open on Vancouver Island. The Zanatta family began experimentation of vinifera varieties in 1981. The winery is currently owned by Jim Moody and Loretta Zanatta.
Owner Loretta Zanatta explained, “We participated in a provincial trial of grape varieties called the Duncan Project. Dionisio Zanatta, my father, was very enthusiastic and believed in the Cowichan Valley as an optimal location for certain styles of wine.”
Dionisio planted 5 acres in 1985 before the wine regulations had formally been rewritten to allow boutique wineries. In 1989, Vigneti Zanatta was created and licensing was finally issued in August of 1992. Their first bottle of wine sold was Ortega.
Zanatta Winery is now located on a 27 acre vineyard. Visitors can skip into the retail store and wine bar, which is located in the original home of the Zanatta family. The 1903 farmhouse features a wrap around verandah, where wine lovers can sit and sip their glasses.
Jim Moody is the resident winemaker, joining the business when he married Loretta in 1992. Jim took over winemaking from Loretta and quickly became the chief winemaker sometime in the late 90’s. He has a strong affinity for traditional method sparkling Vancouver Island wines.
Peckish guests can enjoy Italian nibbles at the Zanatta Winery Lounge. The onsite restaurant highlights wine tastings and food pairings, which can be enjoyed in the dining room or scenic verandah.
Vancouver Island Wineries Near Nanimo
Continue driving north from Cowachin Valley to Comox and you’ll find the scenic oceanside city of Nanimo. The up-and-coming wine region features two vineyards located a short drive outside of downtown Nanimo: Chateau Wolff Estate and Millstone Estate Winery.
2534 Maxey Rd, 778-441-2625
Matt and Natalie Riga are the owners of Chateau Wolff Estates, one of the few wineries on Vancouver Island near Nanimo.
The coupled opened the winery in the Fall of 2015. They purchased the Nanimo winery from the original owner, Harry Von Wolff, who planted the vineyard in 1991.
Natalie shared, “The vineyard is one of the oldest on Vancouver Island. Harry searched over 300 locations ovrer three years to find the perfect micro climate to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.”
After visiting Chateau Wolff Estates the Riga’s fell in love with the beautiful property and its unique history. In 2014, they sold their restaurant in Ontario and moved with their newborn daughter to revive the vineyard.
Matt Riga is Chateau Wolff Estates’ resident winemaker. His favourite varietals to work with are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay because they are versatile yet demand a high level of attention to achieve optimal results.
“We take a hands on approach in the vineyard to grow the best quality grapes possible and a hands off approach in the wine making to let the terroir speak for itself,” said Matt Riga.
2300 E Wellington Rd, 250-716-3549
Millstone Estate Winery is located near Nanimo on the east coast of Vancouver Island.
Located a short 5 minute drive from Departure Bay Ferry, Millstone is a fun and tasty tourist stop for those sailing to and from the mainland. With the Pacific Coast less than 6 miles away, Millstone’s maritime influence results in wines with bright acidity, precise fruit and minerality.
Six acres are planted on the estate farm, producing plump Vancouver Island Wines like Ortega, Pinot Grigio, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Noir, and fruit trees. The first vines were planted in 2001.
The Vancouver Island Winery first opened its doors in 2009. Located in a post and beam building, Millstone Estate Winery featuring a wine boutique on the main floor adjacent to a bustling production facility.
You’ll also find a large patio area, best enjoyed on beautiful summer days. On weekends, locals gather here to enjoy live music. The recently launched kitchen offers a comfy gathering place to enjoy jaw-dropping views of the vineyard, or sit by the blazing fire pit.
Must-try Vancouver Island wines by Millstone Estate include Cabernet Franc, Ortega, Pinot Grigio, Syrah and Riesling. They also produce a seasonal Wild Blackberry Wine and Craft Apple Cider.
The farthest north wineries on Vancouver Island are located near the city of Comox. Popular Comox wineries include 40 Knots Winery, Beaufort Vineyard, Coastal Black Estate Winery and Blue Moon Winery & Cider Worx.
2400 Anderton Rd, 1-855-941-8810
Layne Robert Craig and wife Brenda Hetman-Craig purchased 40 Knots Estate Winery in July, 2014.
The winery building was built new as a barn to house cows until the original owner realized that the land’s terroir is better for grapes than pasture.
40 Knots Estate Winery’s resident winemaker is Layne Robert Craig, who worked under Matt Dumayne and Michael Bartier. Layne has the hands-off approach in the cellar and a hands-on approach in the vineyard, with the philosophy that great grapes make great wine. He makes small batch wines that are distinctly Vancouver Island.
40 Knots Vineyard farms biodynamic and makes its wine using traditional methods. The wines here are natural and also feature the currently trending orange method. The winery also produces unique port-style wine and vin d’cure from botrytis Pinot Gris.
If you’re hungry during your Vancouver Island winery tour enjoy a wine-paired with a picnic trug. Nibble on all-natural products such as charcuterie, smoked salmon, cheeses, fresh-baked baguettes, chutneys, roasted nuts and dried fruits, and the winery’s famous pickled grapes.
Brenda Hetman shared, “We offer cellar tours where we crack open library wines and specialty wines led by the winemaker and guided vineyard tours where you can sip amongst the vines where the grapes in your sip are from. We have some great smaller venue spaces we rent out such as our balcony and deep-seated lounge. Wine Wednesdays are always a hit where we feature local musicians and chefs.”
After enjoying a picnic on the vineyard terrace, make time to go for a scenic walk along the winery’s interpretive trail.
5854 Pickering Rd, 250-338-1357
James Cameron and Suzy Amis Cameron purchased Beaufort Winery in 2014. The Camerons enlisted the help of a small and dedicated team to manage the Vancouver Island winery and farm land.
Beaufort was the first winery in the Comox Valley. The first vines were planted in 2007 by the original owners. The entire property is approximately 80 acres. The Comox Valley has a deep farming history – Beaufort was once a mixed use farm and cattle ranch.
In September 2019, Beaufort Vineyard became the first certified organic winery on Vancouver Island. Katie Phelan, Communications Manager explained, “Crop diversity underpins much of what we refer to as sustainable agriculture; in addition to grapes, we grow hazelnuts, haskap berries, sour cherries and garlic.”
Phelan added, “We champion a plant-based approach to farming and utilize amendments like green compost and biochar in the vineyard. We sow symbiotic crops in the alleyways between the vines; nitrogen fixing legumes for example, as well as tillage radishes. We encourage pollinators and almost all vineyard tasks are completed by hand — pruning, de-leafing, tucking, thinning, harvesting.”
The Cowachin Winery’s tasting room building was once a barn for the original ranch. Many of the original materials like the beams, posts and siding were saved and reincorporated into the modern barn design. Guests can sip fine wine at Beaufort Vineyard’s cozy tasting room or outdoor picnic area, which overlooks the vineyard and Beaufort mountain range.
Freya Timmermans is Beaufort Vineyard’s resident winemaker, “I guess I would say that I enjoy working with varietals that can surprise me with layers in their delicacy — like Ortega — or with an unlooked for aromatic like I can sometimes find in Pinot Gris. The exception proves the rule though: I love Petite Milo for its unapologetic, bold stance,” said Timmermans.
4905 Darcy Rd, 250-338-9765
Blue Moon Winery and Cider Worx is a family affair run by George Ehrler and Marla Limousin alongside their sons Quinn and Matt. The Vancouver Island Cider producer and winery is located just outside of Comox on Vancouver Island.
Blue Moon Winery first opened in June, 2009 as a fruit winery. The farm that the cidery is now located was originally a well established blueberry farm in Courtenay going back to the early 80’s. The crop was selected for the soil as it is pure peat, perfect for growing blueberries.
In 2012, the family launched Ravens Moon Craft Cider, adding hand-crafted fermented apple products to its already booming wine list.
Ehrler shared, “We wanted a small tasting room where we could sit with each customer and get to know them. We also wanted to have special food related functions on the farm so we built a commercial kitchen and an intimate dining room that could accommodate small gatherings of up to 16 people. The farmland and orchard became the backdrop for outdoor celebrations and feasts.”
Limousin added, “We are cider drinkers from way back, drinking ciders from around the world. Coming at cider making from a wine makers perspective and from using our own fruits became a delightful challenge because we were producing a different type of cider. We also are in love with apples and all the history of the heritage apples in our valley added the ability to work with so many different flavour profiles.”
Those enjoying a road trip of Vancouver Island can stop by to sample Ravens Moon Craft Cider and enjoy self guided tours of the farm.
2186 Endall Rd, 250-337-8325
Coastal Black Winery is owned by Terry and Bonnie Ludwig and first opened its doors near Comox in 2009. The Vancouver Island winery gets its name from the fact that it’s located on the Coast and its first and most popular Blackberry wine.
Bonnie explained, “We were originally a dairy farm that we built on site from scratch on bare land in 1991. Our children had no desire for dairy farming but wanted to stay on the land and create their own enterprises. Our oldest son Philip has a custom wood milling business, which was beneficial as we created most of the unique spaces in our tasting room and outdoors with his beautifully milled cedar and fir.”
Bonnie continued, “Our son in law had the interest in planting berries to start the winery and our youngest son is a commercial bee keeper on the farm. We produce fruit wine and mead as well as dry cider and also have a substantial blueberry, sweet corn and pumpkin selling business in the Summer and Fall.”
Visit Coastal Black Estate Winery and you’ll find old dairy buildings that have been transformed into a tasting room, patio area and event barn.
Guests visiting between May and September have an opportunity to “create your own picnic basket” at the winery. Pair a glass of wine or cider with locally sourced meats, cheeses, veggies and chips.
Denman & Hornby Island Wineries
The Strait of Georgia separates Vancouver Island from the mainland. On Vancouver Island’s east coast, there are several smaller islands, called the Gulf Islands, worth visiting. If you have time we suggest hopping on a car ferry bound for Denman and Hornby Island, located just south of Comox.
Denman Island features one winery, Corlan Farm Vineyard, which you can visit before cruising on a ferry to nearby Hornby Island.
Ranked as one of the most beautiful islands in Canada, Hornby Island offers scenic hiking trails, pristine national parks and beautiful beaches. Visitors to the island should make sure to visit Hornby Island Estate Winery, Isla De Lerena Vineyard and Middle Mountain Mead.
8441 McFarlane Rd, 250-335-9132
Selwyn and Patricia Jones moved to Denman Island in 2006, clearing the land on their property so they could plant their first vines in 2008.
Corlan Vineyard is the only commercial winery on Denman Island. The organic farm also raises sheep and chickens.
Most of the Denman winery building was constructed of material milled from trees that were cleared. The tasting room is unique as a cedar tree is the main structural support.
Patrica Jones shared, “We have had several businesses over the years and this grew naturally out of growing the grapes. The winery’s name is a Welsh word – Corlan – meaning sheep-fold. We have had sheep ever since we moved here. My husband’s first language is Welsh.”
Patricia is the winery’s resident winemaker, “The most satisfying grape to work with is Marechal Foch; we took silver in New York State last spring with this wine. We also took silver for our blackberry dessert wine.”
Corlan Vineyard on Denman Island has a small restaurant, mainly using ingredients that grow on the farm or elsewhere on the island.
7000 Anderson Dr, 250-335-3019
Since 1999, Hornby Island Estate Winery founders and owners, John Grayson and Joan Costello, have been producing delicious wines, ports, and sherry made with local British Columbia fruits and berries.
The popular British Columbia winery is located on scenic Hornby Island, a two ferry journey from Vancouver Island’s Comox Ferry Terminal via Denman Island. Hornby is part of the Gulf Islands wine region, known for long, hot, dry summers.
Although 2007 was the first year that Hornby Island Estate Winery bottled wine and offered tastings, John Grayson is actually an old hat in the British Columbia wine industry. Over 30 years ago Grayson was one of the first farmers to grow wine grapes in the Cowichan Valley while running the Aesthetic Research Centre of Canada in Duncan. He also owned the original Auchinachie Road Farm for more than 10 years.
Today, Hornby Island Estate Winery’s orchard is 20 years old, producing juicy heritage English and French cider apples. Our favourite Hornby Island Estate Winery bottles include Blackberry Portamento, Cranberry Apple Sherry, Blueberry Port and Sparkling Raspberry Wine.
1885 Central Rd, 250-335-2491
Isla de Lerena Vineyard is another one of our favourite Hornby Island Wineries.
Established in 2002, the owners of Isla de Lerena Vineyard were drawn to Hornby Island by the people and serenity of this remote and magical place.
Hornby Island was first explored by the Spanish in 1791, who named it Isla de Lerena. The warm micro climate has established a long-standing tradition of farming on the island. Abundant sunny days give vines a unique growing opportunity, allowing the Isla De Lerena winemaker to handcraft small batches of superior wines.
Our favourite Isla De Lerena Vineyard wines worth sipping on a visit to Hornby Island include Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer.
Look beyond the vinis vinifera vines and you’ll find a gorgeous glamping site, Hornby Islands most unique accommodation. The onsite glamping tents are available for rent between May and September. They come furnished with a beautiful bedroom, tucked into the woods.
3505 Euston Rd, 250-335-1397
No Hornby Island tour is complete without a stop at artisan honey winery Middle Mountain Mead.
While not technically one of the Hornby Island wineries, Middle Mountain Mead produces an ancient fermented beverage using honey instead of grapes. Mead is “wine” made from honey and water, often flavoured with herbs, fruits, spices and other botanical elements.
Owners Helen Grond and Steve McGrath tend beef hives, lush lavender fields, gorgeous herb gardens and offer an intimate mead tasting room.
Popular mead’s worth sampling at Middle Mountain include Cyser, Green Tea Elixir, Cranberry Red Currant, Alpenglow and Rosenmeade.
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