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Cowichan Valley - Side Trip from Victoria

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A couple of us are going to a conference in Victoria in the second week of July. We're thinking about doing a winery/foodie afternoon side trip. Someone suggested the Cowichan Valley, which (I think) is about 1 hour away.

Does anyone have suggestions about which wineries and/or foodie places to go to? We plan on leaving Victoria about 12.30 pm and eating lunch or dinner there.

Thanks so much!

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  1. I would absolutely recommend Sea Cider, in Saanichton. They produce traditional ciders, and we loved their flight of ciders with tasting menu. Plus their patio has a nice view of the channel. Check out their website: www.seacider.ca

    1. Cowichan Valley is great...I fantasize about retiring there. Sea Cider is great (pick up a few bottles on your way out). There are some great cheesemakers and butchers in that area (eg Cowichan Valley Meats in Duncan). Some places to eat:

      Hillary's Cheese (and the adjoining bakery) in Cowichan Bay.

      Fairburn Farm serves meals to their guests, but I believe they are serving Sunday lunch for the general public. (I can't confirm). The place is run by Mara Jernigan, uber-localvore and educator. Check out their herd of buffalo that provides them with great mozzarella. http://www.fairburnfarm.bc.ca/visit.htm

      Some wineries:

      Have fun!

      2 Replies
      1. re: fmed

        Cowichan Bay is awesome: lunch at the cheese place and bakery fmed mentions but don't forget ice cream at the Udder Guys. Yum.

        Also I wonder if the Crow and Gate Pub is any good these days. Their website looks a little scary, but it used to be fun (pretty sure its no minors, so we haven't been for a while!).
        Oh, by the way, that's not in Cowichan Bay.

        1. re: waver

          The Crow and Gate in Cedar....my friend who is in the food biz raves about this place. He says it is a really authentic English Pub "complete with black swans in the pond outside."

          I haven't been yet, but I am planning a camping trip with my family and am hoping to roll a visit into it.

      2. Sea Cider is great - they're up the Peninsula (vs. Cowichan Valley)- so fmed is right about hitting them as you head to the ferry - assuming you're ferrying in/out. Merridale Cidery is on the way up to the Cowichan Vally, in Cobble Hill - great place for tasting and lunch.

        I've been to Zanatta a while ago and it was great for a meal (and the wine). http://www.zanatta.ca/

        1. I remember having a great brunch at the QUAMICHAN INN which is in Maple Bay/Duncan. Also a great hole in the wall place that served very fresh oysters right near the marina. The place was nothing in terms of decor but seriously fresh oysters.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pengcast

            In Victoria, check out Spinnakers Brew Pub (308 Catherine Street). Easily one of the best and earliest brewpubs in Canada. Oh yeah, they have a spectacular view of the harbour, too.

          2. Cherry Point Vineyards has an excellent bistro restaurant. Fresh, local and seasonal.


            1. You need more time! I live in the Cowichan Valley and there are enough wineries and small farms to keep you busy for a whole long weekend. Definitely stop by Merridale Cidery for a free tasting. Glenterra Vineyards is only a few minutes away and they have an excellent bistro called Thistles. Another 5 - 10 minutes up the highway to Blue Grouse, mainly Germanic style wines that are well made. My fav winery is Averill Creek, about ten minutes north of Duncan and left on the HIghway to Cowichan Lake - excellent wines and they have a gorgeous patio overlooking the valley with a picnic license (ie. bring your own food and buy a bottle from them to enjoy on the patio. Outstanding Pinot Gris (Gold Medal) and Pinot Grigio. For dinner, try Amuse Bistro in Shawnigan Lake or the Masthead in Cowichan Bay (if Alderlea Vineyards' Pinot Gris is on their list, go for it! It's another excellent vineyard just north of Duncan but only open for tasting by appointment.

              Anyone coming to the Island should pick up a copy of Elizabeth Levinson's book "An Edible Journey: Exploring the islands' fine food, farms and vineyards" (includes the islands off our east coast). Everything you need to know and more is in there - restaurants, wineries, artisanal farms - great read. Happy eating!