Another pioneering vineyard in the Cowichan Valley is forging ahead at break-neck speed, embracing both wine-making and tourism.
Blue Grouse Estate Winery is one of Vancouver Island’s oldest vineyards. This family-owned winery, located slightly off the Island Highway at Duncan, boasts ideal growing conditions. Facing southwest, the grapes are grown on gentle slopes with well-drained, mineral-rich soilin a unique, warm micro-climate.
Two principal wines are produced, the classic Blue Grouse line-up of 100% estate-grown wines and Quill, a new wine line made with grapes from Okanagan and other Vancouver Island vineyards – as well as some from the estate itself.
What amazes me is how the same grape types from different micro climates and vineyards can create such distinctive wines.
Last week I had the pleasure of sampling both the Blue Grouse estate-grown Pinot Gris and the Quill Pinot Gris, side by side.
The estate-produced 2016 Pinot Gris embodied all that I love about Vancouver Island white wines. Loaded with aromas of pear, apple and melon, the oak barrel aging contributes notes of vanilla and a rich body. A steely acidity lingers nicely, with lots of citrus flavours in the mouth.
The Quill 2016 Pinot Gris was made with grapes from two different Cowichan Valley vineyards. It offers a rich mouth-feel with huge amounts of apricot, peach and lychee bouquet. Fruity, softer acids and lingering tropical fruit flavours complete this wine.
Blue Grouse will be bringing more wines for sampling to Indulge Vancouver Island on June 23rdbeing held at Lucky’s Liquor Store in Nanaimo’sCountry Club Centre. This annual event showcases Vancouver Island wines, ciders and spirits.
From the original grapes planted in 1977, to obtaining one of the first winery and tasting room licenses on the Island, Blue Grouse now has 25 vintages under its belt.
As the vineyards are situated in a micro climate requiring little chemical intervention, Blue Grouse is moving towards the production of all organic wines.
The opening two years ago of an impressive winery and tasting room took Blue Grouse to world-class wine tourism levels. The two-levelled tasting room and numerous patios have stunning views of the Cowichan Valley and the Blue Grouse vineyards. The first impression of the gardens and ponds is aesthetic, yet the pond also provides geothermal heating and cooling for the building. Numerous other features of the tasting rooms and winery reinforce the Blue Grouse commitment to sustainability and beauty.
The tasting room is open every day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May through October, with a number of events held through the season. While you primarily go for the wine, the gardens, views and architecture create far more, an extraordinary visitors’ experience.