Wine Tasting Tours of Vancouver Island

Southern Vancouver Island boasts two award-winning regions that welcome wine tasting tours, all within an easy day trip from town.

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The history of wine on the island is a tale that intertwines the art of winemaking with the natural beauty of the region, offering a journey through time that culminates in the flourishing wine culture we see today.

Pouring wine into a line of glasses

The history of winemaking on Southern Vancouver Island dates back to the mid-19th century when European settlers recognized the region's potential for viticulture. Early attempts were made to cultivate grapes for wine, but it wasn't until the 20th century that the industry began to take root. Winemakers faced challenges, such as unpredictable weather and untested grape varieties, but the passion for creating exceptional wines prevailed.

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.  The first wineries in the region set the stage for what would become a thriving industry.

Over the years, other notable wineries emerged, each contributing to the unique character of the region's wines. Venturing into the Cowichan Valley, Vancouver Island's wine country, wineries like Blue Grouse Estate Winery and Averill Creek Vineyard began making their mark with award-winning vintages. The valley's combination of cool ocean breezes and sun-kissed vineyards proved ideal for producing crisp whites and elegant reds.

As the wine industry on Southern Vancouver Island matured, so did the culture of wine tasting and wine tasting tours. Victoria became a hub for wine enthusiasts, offering a gateway to the diverse flavours awaiting discovery in the surrounding regions. Visitors now have the opportunity to explore a plethora of tasting rooms, each providing a unique ambiance and showcasing the craftsmanship of local winemakers.

The Cowichan Valley, often referred to as the "Napa of the North," has become synonymous with exceptional wine experiences. Visitors can embark on self-guided wine tours or join organized wine tasting tours, where they sample a variety of wines while learning about the winemaking process and the history of the region.

There are also numerous wine tasting tours just north of Victoria on the Saanich Peninsula.

Festivals and Events

Southern Vancouver Island hosts an array of wine-related festivals and events that celebrate the local wine culture.

The annual Cowichan Valley Wine Festival and Victoria International Wine Festival, attracts wine enthusiasts from near and far. The festivals offer educational opportunities, seminars, live entertainment, wine dinners and of course a chance to savour the best wines from the region. 

Image by Monica Volpin from Pixabay

Wine Tours

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. Use a trusted company like Viator to book your wine tasting tours

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.

wine and grapes

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 the Cowichan 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. Check the itinerary options when you book.

Lunch at the Unsworth Vineyard Restaurant or The Eatery at Merridale Cidery & Distillery comes highly recommended. 

Saanich Peninsula Wine Tasting Tours

Bottle of cider from Sea Cider near Victoria BC

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. Once 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. This is a popular tour booked through Viator.

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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