Fall brings out feelings of cozy coats and scarves, crisp air, pumpkins and mugs of tea, or maybe even a dash of something stronger. Once the summer crowd has come and gone, it’s the perfect time to explore Victoria and the surrounding area’s wineries and distilleries. Visiting vineyards, indulging in wine tastings, sampling spiced distilled creations and basking in beautiful winery buildings while dressed in my fall best sounds more like the change of season than anything else. As if wine itself wasn’t enough, here are ten reasons to visit a winery, distillery, or both this fall.
- Less People
Like many businesses in touristic places such as Victoria, wineries thrive off of the summer crowd. Tasting rooms are filled with tour groups and sometimes, it can feel like all you get is the same pour and spiel as everyone else. Once those crowds disperse and the tours thin, wine tasting becomes a top activity for locals. Having the tasting room to yourself and being able to ask questions and take your time is a nice change from bumping elbows.
- Harvest Season
Depending on the season’s weather, you may be able to witness the wineries at their harvest time. Aside from grapes, plenty of the wineries in Victoria and the Cowichan Valley are located on farms, so you can enjoy the fall scene of gourds and other cornucopia-type veggies being harvested from the rows of fields. There’s nothing like a pile of pumpkins, or loaded apple trees in a brisk breeze on a beautiful fall day to get that autumn giddiness going.
- New Wines
For some wineries, fall marks the time to release the wines! New labels, new varietals and new bottles take to the shelves. Even if the wines you’re tasting are a standard production at winery, it might be a wine new to you, which is just as exciting. The sampling of any new wine is a good wine in my books.
- Fall Foods
Plenty of wineries pride themselves on featuring a bistro or restaurant onsite. Considering the Island is such a haven of home-grown goods, most prepare scrumptious meals with the produce available from local farms. That means plenty of rich and comforting fall foods, which, by the way, are good for the soul.
Warmth is really where distilleries come in, although a good bottle of wine can certainly keep you cozy as the weather turns brisk, too. However, nothing quite ignites that inner fire like a sampling of spirits. From gin and vodka to whiskey, Victoria’s distilleries have the kindling to spark that flame and keep it going straight through the winter.
- It’s not Pumpkin Spice
While I’ll admit to indulging joyfully in a pumpkin spice latte or two over the fall season, there are plenty of other fall flavors to get excited about. Take mulled wine for example. Realistically, I’d trade in my cups of Starbucks for a pot of the bubbly red stuff any day. The way to find the best recipes and the best wines for a heady, fall concoction is, of course, by going straight to the source. The only problem here is that the wines discovered in Victoria’s local wineries might just be too good to mix with other things.
- Get Holiday Ready
Already feeling the pressure of the holiday season to come? Want to show off to your family that yes, you really are doing alright as an adult? Visits to wineries and distilleries will have you set for the holiday season. Whether you’re getting ahead on your gift list, are planning the perfect holiday dinner, or want to create cocktails for cozy nights, beautiful bottles of wine or spirits are a perfect go-to. Plus, you technically get to sample all the gifts you buy first, how fun is that?
- Fall Vibes
Imagine walking up a gravel driveway as a brisk wind catches your scarf and ruffles your hair. Surrounding you are rolling hills riddled with lush vines made heavy with ripe grapes. Beyond are fields with twists of pumpkins being pulled and picked. Trees with coloured leaves send orange spirals to the grown. Inside the large front doors is a beautiful room with round casks and stunning wooden tables and bars. Sips of perfect wines await with fresh cheese on the side. Anticipation sits on your tongue. Could it be? The perfect fall scene? Yes, and that’s why visiting wineries during the off season is the best – they get you set with that beloved, cozy fall vibe.
- It’s Good for Rainy Days
West coast falls and winters are notoriously rainy, but guess what? Tasting rooms are indoors. That makes wine and spirit sampling a perfect, rainy day activity. While you may not have the chance to wander the property and check out the vines (if you forgot your umbrella), you’ll be able to cozy on in with samples of the nature’s nectar, and maybe even tuck into a hearty fall meal if the winery has an onsite restaurant.
- You Don’t Have to Drive
Wine tasting may sound great, but what about driving to different wineries after you’ve already sampled at a few? Booking a wine tour is definitely the solution. With less crowds, you are likely to be able to snag a last-minute booking, and some companies may even have lower rates for the off season. All you have to do is kick back in those fall boots and sip the day away at multiple top wineries in the area. Sounds like the perfect autumn day to me!
So, if you needed all ten reasons to convince you that winery and distillery exploration is a must for the fall, there you have it! Convinced? Excellent, because Vancouver Island has plenty of amazing wineries and distilleries to explore. It’ll take you all season to see them all!
For more on wine tasting and wineries, take a peek at our wineries page.
For the top things to do in Victoria, B.C., cruise our list of things you can’t miss here.
Contributed by: Laurissa Cebryk