The Wine Islands
Victoria, BC’s wine region, known as the Wine Islands , is the fastest growing wine region in Canada . It now represents one quarter of the wineries in BC. Ten years ago, there were only seven licensed wineries on the Wine Islands and today there are over 30. The wineries of the Wine Islands are reporting an increase in visitors over 30% per year for each of the last five years and cite active co-operation between the wineries and other culinary groups as a major factor for this increase. Collaboration between the Wine Islands Vintners Association and the BC Agritourism Alliance has produced a new Wine Islands visitor guide. It is all-inclusive representing all licensed wineries and producers on the islands who are making wine, cider and mead. It contains touring maps for 10 regions in the Wine Islands as well as a user-friendly guide of hours of operations and a listing of farmerâ€™s markets. It is free to visitors and an on-line version with five downloadable touring maps.
The Spirited Wine Islands
Victoria, BC has become the spirits centre of Canada . Three producers â€“ a winemaker, cidermaker and brewmaster â€“ are leading Victoria â€™s wine region, known as the Wine Islands , into its next evolution â€“ distilling. Winchester Cellars currently makes small lots of handcrafted wines and its own Barking Dog Vineyard is the first and only certified organic vineyard on Vancouver Island . After a trip to Scotland to learn from the masters at Bruichladdich Distillery, Ken Winchester installed a still and released his first eau-de-Viognier with plans to release pear brandy and gin this winter. Merridale Ciderworks â€“ Canada â€™s largest producer of craft cider from English and French cider apples â€“ has also built a distillery and is producing apple and blackberry eau-de-vie as well as Calvados. Matt Phillips, renowned for his artisanal brewing, built a still himself and plans to release gin in Summer 2008. All producers use locally sourced produce and ingredients.
Making Water into Wine
Vine Seekers in Victoria, BC is a new tour company offering a number of west coast excursions and culinary adventures including walking and boat tours around The Wine Islands. The three guided tours include: Vine Seekers, a culinary adventure focused around visiting vineyards; Trail Seekers, a guided experience of the local landscape and cuisine; and Wave Seekers, an opportunity to experience the Wine Islands by boat. Tours are available to a minimum of two guests to a maximum of 12 people and include transportation and a gourmet picnic prepared from local foods around Victoria and Vancouver Island . Custom tours for larger groups are also available. Vine Seekers’ adventures are centered around their love and appreciation for the uniquely beautiful (and tasty!) part of the world in which they feel lucky to call home. Their goal is to share their passion with anyone who has the same enthusiasm for great wines, great food and the great outdoors.