Feature image photo credit ~ Blue Grouse Estate Winery

A self-plan discovery tour of great Cowichan wineries 

Planning a self-plan discovery tour of the Cowichan wineries? Who could blame you? The region boasts a magnificent selection of award-winning vineyards. However, with over 14 tasting rooms to choose from, if you’re pressed for time, selecting just a few to visit could be difficult.

In this review, I’ve put a list of wonderful Cowichan wineries, all of which I highly recommend you visit sometime soon.

While living in the great region of Cowichan Valley for 3 months, we had the utmost privilege of meeting a local foodie and wine enthusiast, introduced to us by the homeowners I was house sitting for. He took us in, under his wing and shared with us some of his favourite wineries in the Cowichan Valley.

Furthermore, even if you’re not a wine amateur, these tasting venues make for a great day of exploration in Vancouver Island’s gorgeous wine region, the Cowichan Valley.

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The Cowichan Valley is known as the Warm Land, an identification given to the region by its native people. Because of its privileged sheltered position from a high mountain ridge on its Western side and the ocean on its East, the valley actually holds the only Mediterranean climate designation in the whole of Canada.

This wonderful mild climate with very similar conditions to the northern regions of France and Germany provides an ideal setting for vines to grow in and is close to perfect for many varietals. With a much cooler climate than Napa Valley, the Cowichan Valley produces bright whites and lighter expression of Pinot Noir. The Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris do exceptionally well here as does many fortified dessert wines. 
A wine tasting tour of the following Cowichan wineries will delight the most finicky wine enthusiasts and is one of the top things to do on Vancouver Island. Admittedly, we were both unsure about going wine tasting in the region, our judgment somewhat clouded by the wines produced in our home province of Quebec.

But these assumptions were quickly put aside by the delectable tastings enjoyed while touring these Cowichan vineyards.
Clearly, this rich terroir has a lot to offer and its many stewards yearn for you to come in and discover what they’ve produced for you to sample.

6 Cowichan Wineries you Must Visit

Averill Creek Vineyard

6552 North Road Duncan, BC, V9L 6K9
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 Photo credit ~ Averill Creek Winery

Driving up an inconspicuous hill on Mount Prevost, one can’t expect the incredible view that awaits up top. Get a complimentary tasting of daily selections in the tasting room adjacent to the patio. A premise somewhat reminiscent of Tuscany, perfect for taking in the view and taking in a picnic while there.
Had the chance to meet, thanks to our new friend, the owner Andy, who founded the winery back in 2001. I also met the passionate winemaker Daniel Dragert and his lovely partner Mira, both hard at work with the last filtering steps before the season’s bottling process was to take place.

Patio Photo credit ~ Averill Creek Winery

Andy is one of the forefathers of winemaking in the valley with his early pinots helping put the Cowichan winemaking potential on every wine aficionados’ map. Averill is a family run business with 40-acres in the Cowichan Valley (32-acres of vine planted) making them the biggest estate on Vancouver Island.

Best known for Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris in a French style and the same grape in an Italian style, Pinot Grigio. We also recommend their Rosé, ideal for those festive afternoons on the patio with friends. 
Averill has teamed up with Husdon’s on First, a local fine dining venue, offering curated gourmet picnic baskets that you can pre-order to be delivered directly at the winery for you to enjoy (24-hour notice). 

Unsworth Winery & Restaurant

2915 Cameron Taggart Rd #1 Mill Bay, BC V0R 2P

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Park in front of the pond and make your way to the tasting room. 

Established in 2009, Unsworth Vineyards produces an outstanding Pinot Noir which often sells out before the end of the season. If it’s unavailable in the tasting room, you can probably enjoy some at their bistro. The Proseco style Charme de L’ile was very light and enjoyable, a pleasant surprise as well.

Sample four wines from the wine tasting menu for a 5$ fee, which will can be deducted with a wine bottle purchase. The artisanal spirit of the place comes across in wine naming, with such callings as Tim Buck Two – the owners’ names is Tim or how about with the whimsy chicken caboose set amongst the vines. 
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They offer guided tours, Fridays to Sundays for 15$p.p. – tasting included, otherwise you can do a self-guided tour, free of charge. Like most of the regional vineyards, you can bring your own picnic lunch and enjoy it in the designated outdoor patio, in this case, an area overlooking the pond and waterfall. 

Otherwise, we highly recommend their bistro restaurant. With a range of snack and small plates, the lunch menu offerings are short but ideal. I tremendously enjoyed the polenta fries with French onion soup for starters followed by braised rabbit tortellinis and smoked Lingcod on toast as a main, amazingly prepared food. 


Blue Grouse Estate Winery & House

2182 Lakeside Road Duncan, BC V9L 6M3
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 Photo credit ~ Blue Grouse Estate Winery

By far one of the most impressive tasting rooms in the valley, this freshly renovated and architecturally designed building is stunning. Surrounded by small hills, this idyllic venue is marvellous for many reasons. In addition to having a great outside patio facing the vines, you can also opt, weather not collaborating, to enjoy your glass of wine while relaxing in front of the modern gas burning fireplace.
The venue also offers a private room for small groups and a quieter second-floor area, also used for large gatherings and events. Tasting of 5 wines is $5 per person, a fee which is waived (by individual) with a wine purchase. Some tours of the winemaking facilities are also available for a minimum of 10 persons. 
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Blue Grouse winery, a flagship of the region, is now owned by a family new to the industry. But their wines continue to be crafted and made by Bailey Williamson who has 20 years experience making wine in the Okanagan. Crisp whites and delightful reds are ready for you to sample. A daily charcuterie platter is offered, which pairs perfectly with their wines, special combos are also available over the winter weekends with homemade soup on Saturdays and perogies on Sundays paired with a glass of wine, starting at 14$ p.p…

I personally enjoyed a Quill White with subtle notes of pear and pineapple and a tasty Quil Red savoured with my bowl of potato and leek soup. Delish! Keep your eyes on their social media for upcoming events and reserve group tasting ahead of time.

Book your Cowichan Valley Wine Tour Here
Outside picnic areas are available on site but the real jewel lies in the back of the lot, right amongst the rows of growing nectar to be, the Blue Grouse House. This fabulous lodging which can host 2 couples is, as stated on their website, an exquisite vineyard retreat. Enjoy staying in this well appointed Bed & Bottle set right on the family’s 64-acre estate. Bookings can be done via VRBO.

Emandare Vineyard

6798 Norcross Road. Duncan BC, Canada, V9L 6C3
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Simple yet elegant, this micro vineyard is well worth the detour. Very few people get to set in motion their vision and dreams of buying a vineyard, an endeavour that requires enormous dedication and personal perseverance.

The minute you’re greeted by the owner Mike, his passion for wine is clear and obvious. A passion he shares with his beloved partner and wife, Robin. Based on the play on both of their names – M and R – pronounced “Em-and-Air”, the winery is run by this young couple who’ve set roots for a new life in Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley, and is dedicated to producing wine which is 100% organically grown on their estate without additives or commercial yeasts. Their approach to winemaking is minimal intervention, natural process. Fermentations naturally occur from the yeast which settles on the grapes int he vineyard.
A true expression of terroir.
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A dream that has proven successful as the results are impressive and fully merit ageing in the worthiest of cellars. This winery is the epitome of “when there’s a will, there’s a way.” Make sure to include Emandare throughout your Cowichan wineries tasting route.

Merridale Cidery & Distillery

1230 Merridale Road, Cobble Hill, B.C. V0R 1L0
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Not technically a winery, the Merridale cidery is yet another great stop on your Cowichan winery tour. With country charm at its best, this setting is ideal for a casual afternoon stop-over. Come for a pleasant stroll amongst the orchards, step into the distillery and head to the drinkery bar for a taste of the fruit of their labour. You’ll find more than just ciders to sample as they also produce a number of spirits on site, such as brandy and gin.
Get tempted by the many flights to try and cocktails to taste.  The on-site restaurant has an English Pub style menu topped with cider-leavened bread and fresh baked goods. Yummy!

Rocky Creek Winery

1854 Myhrest Road, Cowichan Bay, BC V0R 1N1  
Marquestra Cowichan Wineries Review
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the pleasure to visit this winery founded in 2004 by Mark & Linda Holford. But having met the charming owner Linda while sampling their offerings at the Duncan farmers market, we can imagine the place is as radiant as this lady is passionate about her wines. We tried and tasted their best seller and signature blush Pinot Gris, a delightful experience that resulted in us immediately purchasing a bottle.
The video below combined with the many great reviews is enough to convince anyone to include this Cowichan winery visit during your exploration of the valley.

This rounds up your self plan wine discovery tour of 6 Cowichan Wineries you must visit. Now, you have all the best addresses to prepare for an epic Cowichan Tasting tour.

Here’s a full list of the regions’ wineries 

Have you visited Cowichan Valley Wineries?
Please share your experiences, comments or questions below…

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