Thank you to guest blogger Charlotte Monte for a second article about her great experiences sampling Vancouver Island wine. Charlotte is a wonderful writer who loves to ghost blog about any and all topics. If you would like Charlotte’s contact information, please call me at 650-714-7009.
In my first post, I talked about discovering two gems at Venturi-Schulze on Vancouver Island—verjus and balsamic vinegar.
Before reaching a verdict on Vancouver Island wines, I needed more data points. When wine tasting, one can never have enough data points 🙂
Our next stop was Cherry Point Vineyards, in the heart of beautiful Cowichan Valley. It is a larger, more formal winery on sloping, open grounds. Cherry Point was established in 1990 on 34 acres, before wine growing was established on the island. They planted several grapes to discover which would best flourish on the varied soil and climate. Four years later, in 1994, Cherry Point became the first licensed winery on Vancouver Island.
Our sommelier, Xavier stressed soil when we began tasting. Of the 34 acres, 21 are planted, and some Pinot Noir planted in clay stands mere rows away from Pinot Noir planted in gravel. They do taste different. Cherry Point’s reds could age to more full-bodied complexity. The whites were more to my liking, but not on the mark. Said Xavier, “We will never be Napa Valley, and they will never be us. We have to grow what our soil supports, not what the market wants.” He does not import or mix grapes, as he loves to taste the “unique flavor of my land.”
He also told us an interesting bit of trivia: part of the history of rosé is that in Spain people would bring their red wine to bullfights in leather bota bags. They developed rosé so that it would not stain clothes if it dripped from the bags.
Our last data point stop was Church and State Vineyards, near the Butterfly Gardens and Butchart Gardens. “Church” refers to your soul, or heart; “State” refers to your mind, or logic. The name invites balance between the two, just like wine should be balanced. (Our sommelier Megan said that only Americans ask what the vineyard’s name means.)
I felt like I was in Napa. The tasting room was thoroughly modern, with sleek wooden lines, designer lighting and décor. My take on the “Napa” ambiance was not far off the mark.
Of the three wineries we visited, C&S was the only one that blended wines from its Okanagan Valley sites. The Okanagan is in central mainland British Columbia and is more like California. There are hundreds of wineries in “the Okanagan,” as opposed to only dozens on Vancouver Island. I could taste the difference in the wines immediately—more complex and full-bodied. At Church and State, where some of the grapes came from Vancouver Island and others came from the Okanagan, I discovered more of what I’m used to and enjoy.
Which brings us to the point of wine in the first place: find what you enjoy, and no explanations necessary!