Victoria boasts two award-winning regions that welcome wine tasting tours, all within an easy day trip from town. North of the Malahat, you’ll find the Cowichan Valley, sometimes referred to as the Napa of the North. Cowichan is a destination wine region with 14 wineries, each producing exquisite labels.
Image by Monica Volpin from Pixabay
Closer to Victoria on the Saanich Peninsula are an additional 8 wineries/cideries. Many people assume that commercial wine making in British Columbia started in the Okanagan when in fact it was right here in sunny Saanich back in 1921 with the Growers Wine Company.
Our region is a natural destination for wine tasting tours. Choose a self-guided tour (with a designated driver) or sit back, relax and let a local guide chauffeur you to the region’s finest vineyards.
For a typical private wine tasting tour, the guide will pick you up at a mutually agreed upon location such as your hotel or the Port of Victoria if you have arrived by cruise ship.
Depending on the length of tour you selected, you may have time for a quick tour of Victoria’s Inner Harbour area, the historic Chinatown district or the quaint neighbourhood of James Bay. James Bay boasts some of the oldest homes in the region with well-preserved examples of Victorian architecture as well as the birthplace of Group of Seven artist, Emily Carr, among other highlights.
Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay
Both wine tasting tour options are exceptional choices with beautiful vineyards and award-winning wines. The Cowichan tour comes highly recommended though as it is home to some of the oldest and largest vineyards.
With this tour you can expect to be quickly whisked out of the city and within minutes find yourself amidst an old-growth temperate rain forest on Malahat Drive. Enjoy a picturesque 20 minutes as you traverse the Malahat (sometimes just called the “hat”) and near the top, your driver will stop for photos at a scenic lookout spot overlooking Saanich Inlet. On a clear day you can see Mount Baker in Washington State in the distance.
This lookout is one of my favourite spots to take visitors to the Island.
You will typically make about 3 or 4 stops on this tour with an average of 4 tastings at each. You may also mix it up a bit and delight your palate with a cidery stop. The stops on your tour may be dependent on the time of year, time of day and day of the week that you are booked on. Ask your guide for itinerary options when you book.
Lunch at the Unsworth Vineyard Restaurant or The Eatery at Merridale Cidery & Distillery comes highly recommended.
The second wine tasting tour option that is a little closer to downtown Victoria is the wineries, cideries and distilleries of the Saanich Peninsula.
A typical tour might include stops at Sea Cider for excellent ciders and views, then on to the highly awarded Church and State Winery. Here at Church and State you will be encouraged to dine at the Bistro in addition to savouring your tastings.
A final stop on this tour could be De Vine where you can choose between wines or spirits.
Remember with a private guide, wine tasting tours can be customized to meet the specific interests of your party. Local tour guides know all the back-roads, where the construction is and where the best views are. They are able to whisk you around the region, ensuring a memorable excursion with the perfect blend of narrated tour, scenic views, distinct, award-winning vineyards and of course, photo ops!
With thousands of visitors every day in Victoria, these tours book up quickly. Don’t be disappointed, book yours today.
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