Thank you to guest blogger Charlotte Monte for this wonderful post about her wine tasting experience on Vancouver Island, BC. 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.
When I told Betty that my husband and I would be wine tasting on vacation to Vancouver Island, she offered me the privilege of guest blogging about our experience. Armed with absolutely no knowledge of the region (“Hey, Paul, they have vineyards on Vancouver Island!” “What? Great! Where are the nearest B&Bs?”), I opened up to discovering what treasures the island’s beautiful shores would reveal.
Our first stop was Venturi-Schulze, situated on the east coast of Vancouver Island, between Nanaimo and Victoria, 49° latitude, almost the farthest north where grapes successfully grow. I admit being skeptical. After all, I live mere hours from Napa! Could B.C. wines possibly compare?
Michelle, our encyclopedic sommelier treated us to 100% estate-grown wines. Their 18 acres produce 1500 cases of whites (it’s too temperate for reds), on mixed soil including sand, red clay and limestone. Upon planting, each vine received one gallon of water and none since, except for a stinging nettle tea treatment once or twice a year. Venturi-Schulze helps sustain the island’s natural water table, growing very durable plants with hardy, deep roots. Because more fruit naturally falls from the vines, remaining grapes are particularly full. Other natural practices are a kelp/sulphur spray two or three times yearly, and a ground covering of weeds to prevent erosion.
Vancouver Island Wines
The wines we tasted, an ’08 Brut Naturel, ’10 Millefiori, ’09 Maranello Rosé, ’09 Felino, ’08 Pinot Gris, and an ’08 Brandenburg, on the whole were quite dry and not complex. They did not capture my heart as more full-bodied whites do. However, V-S grows the grapes their soil supports. And that is how it should be. They claim to be the first winery in the world to go cork-free on their bubblies.
Nothing could compare, however, to their verjus (“green juice,” an early French import from Persia, made from immature green grapes to aid food preservation and cooking. Tart on the tongue, this refreshing concoction can be used in countless ways: in soups, salads, marinades, or part of a saucy dip. The label, designed by the owners’ daughter at age 7, depicts a “naked prehistoric girl by fire.” Naturally.
Vancouver Island Balsamic Vinegar
Lastly, Michelle floored us with their authentic balsamic (from “health” or “balm”) vinegar, and a trip to their vinegary (say “vin-ah-gree” like “pedigree”). In small casks of different woods, this elixir matures over many years to produce absolutely the most phenomenal thick, dark balsamic ever.
Next time, our trip to Cherry Point and Church and State Vineyards.
If you’ve tasted wine in British Columbia, please share your experiences here.