Island Grapes, Apples and Honey

Many visitors are surprised to find vineyards on Vancouver Island and the surrounding islands, yet our warm summers, mild winters and just enough rain are ideal for cool climate grape growing. We are on the same latitude as parts of northern France and central Germany, but this is just a small part of the story. Here on the Islands, you will find microclimates and pockets of gravelly and sandy soil a stone’s throw from rich clay loams and each soil type produces distinctive wines. Just as varied as the soils are the people who craft the wines, ciders and meads of the islands, but they share an unmistakable passion and pioneering spirit.

Ortega

Named for a Spanish philosopher, Ortega is really a German cross of Müller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe (two other Island varieties). An early-ripening variety, Ortega produces a crisp, light white with a bright floral aroma and citrus flavours, the perfect match for local shellfish and crab.

 

Pinot Gris

A popular grape in both Alsace and Oregon, Pinot Gris is developing two distinct styles on the Wine Islands: unoaked Gris produces a crisp, light style that is sometimes finished off-dry; oaked Gris is richer and spicier, sometimes with a distinctive coppery hue if it has been allowed some skin contact.

 

Pinot Noir

The great grape of Burgundy has become the Island’s most-planted red variety, and with good reason. Although notoriously temperamental (its nickname is the “Heartbreak Grape”), it produces a medium bodied, elegant and long-lived wine that pairs well with local specialties like salmon and lamb.

 

Marechal Foch

Usually just called Foch, is a hardy, cold-tolerant hybrid. It produces a full-bodied, earthy red with deep color and jammy flavours. Soft tannins make it easy to enjoy young. Pair it with heartier dishes like grilled meats or winter stews.

 

Blackberry

The gnarly wild blackberry decorates fields and fencelines throughout the Wine Islands. Picked by hand in the fall, the berries produce both dry table wine (sometimes blended with grape wine) and a luscious port-style dessert wine that has garnered international recognition.

 

Apples

The best cider is made from apples that are both sharp (high in acid) and bitter (high in tannin). Styles include dry “traditional” cider; sweet, rich Cyser; and strong, sharp Scrumpy —so named after farm workers who stole, or “scrumped” apples from the orchard.

 

Honey

Mead, or honey wine, is as old as grape wine, and comes in almost as many styles. The two meaderies on Vancouver Island rely on “herds” of bees to produce raw honey, which is fermented and often flavored with wine, fruit, or spices. Styles range from light, dry table wine to sweet, oak-aged dessert wine."

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