If you’re looking to start your spring wine tasting on a light, crisp note, the emerging region of Vancouver Island is a dynamic place to explore.
Compared to the Okanagan, the Island has a moderate to cool climate, ideal for growing Pinot Noir and white varietals such as Pinot Gris and Gewürztraminer. These grapes yield light-to-medium-bodied fruity reds and crisp whites with fresh acidity. The region also produces some exquisite sparkling wines.
Vancouver Island has been a hidden gem in the wine world, in particular the Cowichan Valley with 14 wineries. Established vineyards have spent 20-plus years researching and developing their craft while budding vintners have reinvigorated wineries around the valley with modern equipment and new tasting rooms. The summer of 2016 was a banner year for the Cowichan Valley with record numbers of visitors coming to discover the region’s vinitourism.
If anybody on Vancouver Island – and possibly all of BC – knows Pinot Noir, it’s Averill Creek Vineyard owner, Andy Johnston and his team: winemaker Daniel Dragert and vineyard manager Terry Trapnell.
Andy began cultivating his love of Pinot while learning about viticulture in France and New Zealand. In 2001, he planted 30 acres on the south side of the Cowichan Valley’s Mt. Prevost, which would become the only vineyard on Vancouver Island to sit on an acute slope of a mountain. Averill Creek’s terroir is akin to that of Burgundy, France, with vines growing in 30 feet of sand and gravel, providing exceptional conditions for viticulture.
Since his first vintage in 2004, Andy’s wines have garnered significant local and international attention. Most recently, Averill Creek 2012 Pinot Noir won a Bronze medal at the Global Pinot Noir Masters in England, while his new 2014 Somenos Pinot Noir is already generating serious buzz within the BC wine community.