BC Wine

Vancouver Island

Early Grapes and Wines

As early as 1900 a few grapes were grown in the Cowichan Valley capable of producing high quality wine, as written in the in the sixth rapport of the Department of Agriculture, submitted the 15th of July, 1901. If only the people of those days could have been convinced to plant more vines and establish a commercial winery at that time, British Columbia's wine industry would have looked a whole lot different.

It took until 1923 for the first commercial winery to open its doors. The Growers Wine Company located in Victoria, BC became the first licensed winery in British Columbia. They were joined by another Victoria winery in 1927, Brentwood Products Ltd. Both wineries produced Loganberry wines at the time. The Growers Wine Company opened up a new location in 1927 and in addition to wine also started producing Grower's Cider

Brentwood's name changed to Victoria Wineries (B.C.) Ltd in 1929.

In 1932 Victoria Wineries was brought into the Grower's Wine Company but continued to market its products under the Victoria Wines name.

The Growers Wine Company changed ownership in late 1965 and was subsequently absorbed into Castle Wines, a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco. The wines were marketed under the Ste Michelle name. In 1973 Castle Wines amalgamated with Jordan Valley and the newly formed company emerged as Jordan & Ste Michelle Cellars.

Chalet Estate Winery (2001-2008) North Saanich, Vancouver Island

Both Victoria wineries were shut down in 1977 when Jordan & Ste Michelle Cellars moved to a new location in Surrey, thus ending the early presence of wineries on Vancouver Island.

10 years later Merridale Cider opened up in Cobble Hill and became BC first licensed land based cidery.

It took another 5 years for the first grape wine producing winery to open its doors. In 1992 Vigneti Zanatta, located in Duncan, was licensed to produce and sell wines.

Wine Region

The main grape growing areas of Vancouver Island are on the Saanich Peninsula and in the eastern parts along the Georgia Strait of the Cowichan and Comox Valleys. Vancouver Island's first commercial vineyard was established in 1970 in the Cowichan Valley. The British Columbia Government used this vineyard as a test site to find the most suitable varieties of grapes for growing on Vancouver Island. This was known as the Duncan Project (1981-1986). This vineyard belongs to Vigneti Zanatta

There is also a winery located in the Alberni Valley, with the first vines planted in 1996.

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