Robert's Report

Visiting Vancouver Island

It was not easy finding a time to get away this summer. I had three day surgeries and my wife had one major operation. Our three week trip to the Okanagan was reduced to one and even then we could not find seven days. As the summer passed we realized we could not make the Okanagan especially with a moving date quickly approaching. We decided to visit the Island for three days Once again life got in the way and we reduced this trip to two days. But what wonderful days they were!

Averill Creek Vineyards phot Robert Bell


The first stop on our visit was to Averill Creek Vineyards a family run 40 acre estate winery on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Located in the heart of the Cowichan Valley wine region. The weather produced quite a down pour as we found our way along the long gravel driveway from the road up to the winery. the winery is built into the side of Mt. Prevost. We were impressed!

Designed by Vasco Pavlov, it incorporates three buildings stacked together, allowing
wine to flow down from one stage to the next without the need for pumps. This gravityflow method allows for gentle handling of delicate varietals, which helps to retain their subtle characteristics. Wines arrive in the barrel room never having been pumped.

The design of the winery also includes a tasting room, dining room, and a commercial kitchen. The garden patio adjacent to the winery has spectacular views of the Cowichan Valley.

We were warmly greeted by owner Andy Johnston and given a tour of the facilities. After gaining experience working at wineries in Tuscany (Villa Delia), Australia (McGuigan Wines), France (Chateau de Terride), and New Zealand (Trinity Hill, Escarpment), Andy decided he was ready, and found his ideal site. He chose the Cowichan Valley, lured by its dry-summer subtropical/ mediterranean climate. There is no doubt that Andy knew what he was doing. Not only making Averill into one of BC's top wineries he has helped put the Cowichan Valley on the world map.

The winery features a number of award winning wines including their 2009 Pinot Noir Reserve. All vintages of their Pinot Noir can be looked upon as a good buy. Their latest release is the CHARM DE L'ILE A classic Charmat Method sparkling wine


From Averill it was on to Blue Grouse Vineyards another of the fine Cowichan Valley wineries with a reputation for fine wines. Blue Grouse can trace its history back to 1977 when John Harper (Funded by the Ministry of Agriculture), a pioneering island viticulturist, planted an experimental vineyard. The site was used for three years as a test site for 130 to 150 different types of grape vines

In 1889 the Kiltz family purchased the property. After much hard work Blue Grouse and Zanatta both received liquor licenses to operate a retail store and started selling their wines to the public.In 2012 the Brunner family fell in love with Cowichan Valley and Blue Grouse Estate, deciding to make it home.

Paul Brunner and Bailey Williamson, his winemaker, are setting out to expand production and raise the profile of Blue Grouse. New facilities are currently under construction.

We arrived with the rain still falling and quickly found our way into the busy tasting room. Before we could settle in two more couples had arrived. The lady behind the bar had her handsful a testament to the Wineries reputation for producing good wines.

We enjoyed the wines present made a few purchases and where on our way to Cobble Hill. Remember we review the wines we like at Robert's Selections

We had a very enjoyable stay at the Cobble House B&B The B&B is nestled among the trees on almost 40 acres of natural forest with Shawnigan Creek flowing by along one side. Wildlife is a daily occurrence. It is located on Cameron-Taggart Road very close to Unsworth Vineyards and Merridale Cidery. The breakfast was fabulous.

I didn not let a close sign prevent me from discovering the beautiful well designed grounds of Unsworth Vineyards. It also helps to tell them you where going, something we seldom do. Unfortunately Barbara had to stay behind and work. I was on my own. I wondered around the property finding my way to the office where I meet owner Tim Turyk.

Tim Turyk Owner Unsworth
Tim Turyk Owner

He offered to give me a tour of the facilities. I was in for a very good time

Unsworth is busy expanding they have a huge facility with new tanks been installed. In the winery, an artisan's approach is applied to winemaking, using taste and instinct, reinforced by science and method. the winemaker is Daniel Cosman. There are currently 6 acres of planted grape varieties at Unsworth Vineyards. The oldest block is Marechal Foch, which was planted in 2007.

Daniel Cosman photo by Robert Bell

Enjoyed a barrel tasking with Daniel Cosman

The tour included the wineries restaurant - see blog

The winery has a well designed and very comfortable wine shop which over looks a patio and pond. It was a pleasure to taste the wines with Tim Turyk. Such good wines. The Symphony, a blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet-Libre, is a must try wine The 2011 is exceptional. A new but exciting Sparkling wine is been produced 2010 Cuvée De L'ile. For the red The 2012 Pinot with it's berry aromas and silky finish is also a must try. These wines prove you can produce great wines in the Cowichan Valley

The time past too quickly and I had to return to the B&B for Barbara. We were on our way to Enrico winery but we would return for lunch at Unsworth.

Our trip continues

Barbara and I did take a major holiday this years visiting good friends in Phoenix for a month

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