When it comes to BC wine the Okanagan Valley receives all the press and most of the awards. Vancouver Island has about 50 vineyards with a total of 390 acres of vines or less than 4% of the total BC acreage. With this background I took the opportunity to visit one of the Vancouver Island wineries to see how they compare with Kelowna’s finest.
John & Cathy Windsor created de Vine Vineyards from 25 acres. It was a cloudy day when we visited but on a clear day, you can stand on the Tasting Room Patio and see Mount Baker on the horizon beyond the Saanich Peninsula. The grounds are spectacular. In 2007 the Windsors, along with John Thomas (Vineyard Manager), started clearing and planting primarily Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Grüner Veltliner. Quickly, de Vine Vineyards became the island’s largest planting of Grüner Veltliner, a luscious Austrian white used to make our iconic Grü V wine. Since then, de Vine has diversified the vineyard using organic traditions and techniques. The winemaking staff handles the grapes as little as possible, picking by hand and using traditional Burgundian techniques to bring out the best in each lot. Whites are gently whole-cluster pressed, and fermented cool and slow to maintain their bright acidity and subtle aromas. Reds are de-stemmed and given a cold soak and frequent punch downs to achieve maximum extraction of flavor and color.
Extended contact with the skins encourages the tannins to soften and meld. Aging in fine-grained French oak barrels promotes harmony, and blending enhances the strengths of each varietal. The winery produces around 2,000 cases of wine plus has just started to produce two types of gin.
On the Sunday we visited the winery, Lisa was pouring Ortega, Pinot Blanc, Rosé, Zinfandel and Syrah/ Viognier blend. Our favorite was the Pinot Noir Rosé which is a dry wine with raspberry and strawberry notes and a peppery finish. We also tried the gins. Our choice for martinis was the Vin Gin. The gin is double distilled from estate Pinot Gris and Gruner Veltliner grapes. A third distillation marries the base spirit with a dozen organic and wild-gathered botanicals to create a distinctively smooth West Coast Gin. The grape base gives it a truly unique taste.
The winery is definitely worth the visit the next time you are in the Victoria area.