Oh, man, guys. I don’t know how I let these things happen. It’s been nearly four months since my lil’ sis and I visited Vancouver Island. I’m just now getting around to posting. Sure, I’ve had other things going on, I’ve been working a schedule approximating something like full time (sometimes more, sometimes less depending upon the week), but mostly I feel like I’ve just been trying to sneak in as much biking, as many microbrewery visits, and Spanish classes as our schedules allow.
I promise, though, the fact that I let so much time pass before writing about this does not mean you shouldn’t make a point to visit this region of BC. (Alas, so much BC, so little time!)
Before visiting, Sister did some research, found some things she thought looked interesting, and told me she was leaning toward visiting Cowichan Valley. I’ll admit, I was caught unawares. I’ve heard of oodles of things to visit in BC, and this wasn’t really one of them. I even asked some Vancouverite coworkers who responded with, “Where?”
But when a visitor actually researches what she wants to do, I do not get in the way.
We hopped the Tsawwassen ferry to Victoria* and rented a car to explore the valley for the day. Sadly, just a day, but we made the most of it.
Early on we stopped a bit, so Midwest Gal #2 could meet the Douglas firs and moss of British Columbia.
We continued north, making our way to the Kinsol Trestle. (From the parking area, hit the trail, turn left, and walk an easy mile to the bridge. It’s an impressive piece of construction and has been rehabilitated. There’s no doubt it’s safe enough for you to walk or bike across these days, but imagine loaded trains crossing these old wooden trestles years ago. Eek! The bridge really does make for a nice walk, a nice view, and a nice excuse to get out of the car.
The weather was chilly, so the sunny patches on the trestle were much appreciated.
Post trestle, the hour became nearly justifiable for visiting wineries. The Cowichan Valley is home to quite a few–far too many, I assure you, for just one day. You’ll have to do a bit of research and choose those that suit your wants the most. Or, you can just go to one and ask them about the others.
The gentlemen at Enrico Winery were chatty and had some good recommendations for things to do nearby and in Victoria. They also took a good bit of time to explain some basics about BC varietals to us. The owner (too much time has passed, I forgot her name) at Cherry Point Estate Wines is full of fun stories and lovely to chat with as well. Also, be sure to stock up on Lágrimas Negras and a bottle of the Solera dessert wine (a gift that the Mister thoroughly enjoyed). Finally, we visited Averill Creek, which has a wonderful view and terrace. Really, we should have picnicked there, but we were ill-prepared. Still, a lovely visit. Still several other wineries that could be visited on a second trip.
I know, I know, I said this about the Okanagan Valley as well, but Cowichan Valley really is a great place to visit wineries for people who aren’t well-versed in the lingo of wine. Asking questions was more than tolerated, it was gladly welcomed. Everyone with whom we interacted was very low-key and wasn’t concerned with whether we knew a lot about wine or if we’d end up buying a lot of it from them. It was nice. It was relaxing. It was worth it. I’d visit again gladly.
Although winery visits took up the bulk of our Cowichan Valley time, we did manage to sneak in a lunch and flânerie time in Cowichan Bay (I recommend visiting the cheese shop and bakery for some foodie splurges) and a bit of time in Duncan (stop by the Garage–check out some used books and some delicious treats!).
There’s not much in my guide books (why, yes, we actually do have a Frommer’s Canada) about the Cowichan Valley. I hadn’t heard about it, and it’s not typically on the top of bucket lists. But there was a good tourist time to be had nonetheless. This little day trip reminded me that nearly every place, if you look just a little, has a lot to offer.
Thanks for joining me, Sister. Thanks for joining me, reader. Next time we go to the Cowichan Valley, let’s all buy sweaters.
*Seems like we really ought to have a direct line from downtown to this ferry without hopping SkyTrain to bus. On the way back, we were stuck at the ferry terminal without a bus for nearly 2 hours. Well done, transit planners, well done.