The Cowichan Valley, located on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, is where Blue Grouse Estate Winery and Vineyard calls home and is Canada’s only “cool” maritime Mediterranean climate. Named ‘Quw’utsun’ or Cowichan, by the Salishan First Nations, it translates to ‘land warmed by the sun.’ Everything about my time at Blue Grouse felt warm, friendly and inviting.
I jumped on a B.C. Ferry from Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver on a sun-filled morning and arrived at Departure Bay on Vancouver Island. After an easy 45 minute drive, I pulled up the driveway to Blue Grouse Estate Winery and Vineyard to the welcoming smile of talented winemaker, Bailey Williamson. It seemed that we were charging through the vineyards in a Gator Utility Vehicle only seconds after my arrival. During the vineyard tour, Williamson explained that Cowichan Valley had recently been recognized as the latest sub-geographical indication (sub-GI) in British Columbia.
A sub-geographical indication is an official, protected term under B.C. law to help consumers identify B.C. wines’ origins. The Cowichan Valley sub-GI is defined as the area between the Cowichan watershed, the eastern coastline from Mill Bay to Maple Bay, and the western area of Cowichan Lake. Click here for a map.
Blue Grouse Estate Winery and Vineyard is a sustainably-farmed 65-acre estate. I met the vineyard manager, Michael Abbott, whose passion for the land is palpable. He and Williamson work easily together and their talents shine through in the wine portfolio.
We will be celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving next week and I am putting together a menu to host family at our home. Here are a few flavourful Blue Grouse wines to pair with your holiday celebrations:
- Quill Gamay Noir Vancouver Island 2018 – Hints of cedar, red cherry, white pepper and stewed cranberry – this light and expressive red is a great pairing for your traditional turkey dinner.
- Quill Q Red British Columbia 2018 – A blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Marechal Foch that has been aged in oak for 12 months. Aromas of fresh strawberry, stewed plum with hints of vanilla and on the palate, it has a great tannic structure with a herbaceous note on the finish. Pair this with lamb or ribs on the BBQ.
- Quill Q White Vancouver Island 2019 – A delightful blend of Schönburger, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Siegerrebe. This is an unexpected surprise and one that pairs perfectly with turkey dinner and all the fixings. It is lightly aromatic with nice acidity and a harmonious mouthfeel.
- Blue Grouse Estate Ortega Vancouver Island 2019 – This is Vancouver Island’s signature grape and is an undiscovered gem. Organically farmed, this 100% Ortega has flavours of orange blossom and orange peel alongside notes of crème brûlée on the finish. If you are thinking of white fish or scallops for your holiday meal, this is a fantastic pairing.
- Blue Grouse ‘Paula’ Traditional Method Sparkling Vancouver Island 2017 – Let’s face it, a glass of sparkling wine is wonderful way to welcome guests into your home. This delightful bubble is a blend of Pinot Gris, Ortega and Müller-Thurgau. Bright and refreshing with notes of Golden Delicious apple, lemon zest and brioche, choose a bottle of ‘Paula’ to kick off your holiday celebrations.
The talented team at Blue Grouse Estate Winery and Vineyard treated me incredibly well – like I was a part of the family. Thank you.