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If you’re already dreading winter storm season, we have the answer: it’s time to spend a weekend in BC’s welcoming wine country, getting to know some of our local wine and cheese producers. This month, we’re introducing you to three of our favourite sustainable BC wineries that offer the perfect escape from gray November days -- and we’ve paired them with some outstanding local cheesemakers. While we’ve taken care to highlight producers who can host you and your family for on-site visits, you can also buy many of these wines and cheeses online or at select retailers and restaurants, so it’s a taste trip you can make without ever leaving town. It’s time to curl up by the fire and raise your glass to BC’s wines and cheeses!
Emerald Coast Vineyards: This 2015 We Heart Local award winning winery has a lot to offer: not only do they produce an exquisite range of white (try their Autumn Harvest), red, blush and fortified fruit wines; they also offer relaxing “farmcation” accomodations in their 2 bedroom carriage house. Located in Port Alberni, Vancouver Island, the carriage house features stunning views of the farm and winery, plus numerous trails to explore. Emerald Coast’s dedication to the environment - using sustainable farming practices, leaving over half of their land treed and building their wine shop with reclaimed wood - on top of their welcoming family atmosphere and delicious wines, makes them a sure winner for a local weekend getaway.
Elephant Island Orchard Wines: Miranda and Del Halladay have never gone in for the snooty winery stereotype. Rooted in, and inspired by their family history (Miranda’s grandmother and grandfather founded the winery), Elephant Island in Naramata is charmingly down to earth, and tours of their Tasting Barn are famously un-snobby and fun. Elephant Island welcomes younger visitors with a well-stocked kid’s play centre, and offers a dazzling 6,000 case array of fruit wines, including a dark and delightful cherry. From May to October they offer on-site accommodations in their “Tree House”, and because their “Trunk Club” ships wine directly to your door, you can enjoy their warmth and hospitality all year round.
Mooberry Winery and Little Qualicum Cheeseworks: Near Mt. Arrowsmith on Vancouver Island, the 2015 We Heart Local award winning cheesemakers Nancy and Clarke Gourlay produce excellent fruit wines and cheeses. A life-changing trip to Switzerland launched the duo into the dairy farm business, where they aimed to create the kind of incredible cheese (and foster the kind of happy cows) that they’d seen in Switzerland. Today, their Mooberry Winery dry to off-dry table wines, in fruit flavours like blackberry, pear and tart cranberry, provide a delicious counterpart to their Little Qualicum cheeses. Although they don’t offer accommodation (yet), these award-winners offer so much to see and do that their farm makes a perfect November day-trip destination.
To pair with these BC wines, try some locally made cheeses: Natural Pastures Cheese Company in Courtenay uses local milk to produce favourites like their Comox Brie and Comox Cheddar; and in Maple Ridge, the Davison family at Goldenears Cheesecrafters produces delectable blues, bries, Emmental and Neufchatel. Finally, while their goat cheeses are available in markets and stores across the province, The Salt Spring Island Cheese Company is worth a wintry weekend visit: wandering their farm gives you a chance to meet their goats and see their cheese being made, before you snack your way through their shop.
Explore more of BC’s favourite farms, and get to know your local farmers here. And to discover more amazing local specialities and award-winning food to warm up your winter, check out our Find Local tool.