The Cowichan Valley is the perfect place for a summer road trip.

The Cowichan Valley is the perfect place for a summer road trip.

Fun in the Cowichan Valley

Tess van Straaten explores the Cowichan Valley's gems

It’s the hottest day of the year and we’re driving down a winding country road as we head to the first stop on our Cowichan Valley adventure. Surrounded by trees and nestled in a picturesque orchard is Cobble Hill’s Merridale Cidery, Canada’s first estate cidery.

We’re here for a tasting and tour — something that’s quickly become one of the ‘must do’ activities in this increasingly popular wine region, which has grown to include craft breweries, cideries, distilleries and even a tea farm.

“They’re one of the main attractions of the Cowichan region for tourists as well as locals,” says Merridale Cidery, Distillery and Bistro co-owner and Tourism Cowichan board member Janet Dougherty. “What Cowichan has to offer above and beyond other wine regions is the vast diversity of the products due to the amazing microclimates in the region.”

Merridale also makes gin and vodka — as well as the best apple juice you’ll ever taste — but I’m here for the cider. Like wine, there are ‘old world’ and ‘new world’ varieties. I opt for the sweeter new world tasting flight and savour every sip as the packed tasting bar and bistro do brisk business.

A short drive away is Cowichan Bay, one of my favourite spots on Vancouver Island. The quaint fishing village is famous for the eclectic shops and delicious eateries that line the waterfront and a laid-lack lifestyle.

“Cowichan Bay is definitely relaxing!” says Oceanfront Suites at Cowichan Bay director of sales Robert Green. “Whether you want to cruise the bay in a kayak, have a locally-sourced lunch from one of the local vendors or walk the docks and beaches, there’s something to please most anyone.”

We’re staying the night at the waterfront hotel, where every room has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the beautiful bay and Mount Tzouhalem. I’m tempted to just relax in the room and enjoy the incredible view, but we have more exploring to do.

After strolling along the docks and checking out the shops, it’s time for another Cowichan Valley ‘must do’ — a hike to the Kinsol Trestle. A true engineering feat, the trestle built in 1920 spans the Koksilah River just north of Shawnigan Lake and is one of the highest wooden railway trestles in the world. It’s also part of the Trans Canada Trail network.

We follow another trail down to the river, dipping our toes in the decidedly cool water and savouring the tranquility of this amazing place.

For more info: www.tourismcowichan.com

Winery Map: www.tourismcowichan.com/wp-content/uploads/TourismCowichanWineryMap.pdf

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Artist Daniel Cline discusses his sculpture, Harmony Humpbacks, during the June 20 walking tour of Oak Bay’s 2019 ArtsAlive sculptures. Harmony Humpbacks was purchased by Oak Bay as the 2019 people’s choice winner and is permanently installed at the Beach Drive entrance to Willows Park. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Influx of donated art a ‘fantastic problem to have,’ says Oak Bay mayor

Oak Bay goes from zero to 10 permanent art pieces since 2015

Tomo Vranjes, a Greater Victoria musician and longtime fan of late rock guitar icon Eddie Van Halen, joins artist Paul Archer behind the latter’s Fort Street gallery. Archer, whose airbrushed paintings of rock greats have made him many connections in recent years, painted a likeness of Van Halen following the guitarist’s death last month from cancer. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Victoria artist’s king-sized tribute to Eddie Van Halen draws on personal connection

Paul Archer had an up close and personal day with the legendary guitarist in 1980

The Vancouver Island Symphony’s Back Row Brass Quintet – including trumpeter Mark D’Angelo, tuba player Nick Atkinson and French horn player Karen Hough (from left) – were scheduled to tour the Nanaimo area with Christmas Under the Big Tent, but the concert series has now been cancelled. (Photo courtesy HA Photography)
Symphony brass quintet’s Christmas concert series cancelled

Performances were to happen at venues in Parksville and Lantzville next month

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse, near Shirley. (Contributed - Lee-Ann Ruttan)
New book shines a light on Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Publication examines history, lightkeepers, and volunteer society

Victoria-based guitarist Eric Harper performs at the Port Theatre on Nov. 27. (Photo credit Tatum Duryba)
Classical guitarist to play at the Port Theatre

Eric Harper to play new songs composed during the pandemic

A sample of some of Lou-ann Neel’s jewelry.
Lou-ann Neel wins the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art

Originally from Alert Bay, Neel’s family is steeped in renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artists

I-Hos Gallery manager Ramona Johnson shows some of the paddles available at the retail outlet. Photo by Terry Farrell
I-Hos Gallery celebrates 25 years of promoting First Nation artwork

K’ómoks First Nation-based outlet has art from all over the country

Bard to Broadway Theatre Society may stage shows outdoors next summer. (PQB News photo file)
Qualicum Beach’s Bard to Broadway group may stage shows outdoors

Theatre society plans smaller productions due to ongoing pandemic

A new short film festival called MORVENFEST is encouraging B.C. secondary students to step into the world of film during their Christmas break. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
New film festival gives Victoria students exciting opportunity

MORVENFEST is open to all B.C. secondary students over Christmas break

Most Read