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CowiChan Uncovered

Volume 1: Food and Cheers

TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. Welcome 2. Cowichan’s Best Ofs Best Locavore Menus Best Sweet Somethings Best Local Grind Best Sunday Brunches Best Places to Propose Celebrity Chefs Feast by Foraging Food Trucks Other Best Ofs 3 Wineries and Distilleries Tasting Circuit and Map

Credits & Tastings:

Written by Nigel Yonge, Creative Director, Taiji Brand Group Designed by Alice Young, Designer, Taiji Brand Group Researched by Zoe Millette, Social Media Coordinator, Taiji Brand Group

Welcome By now, you may have already heard Cowichan referred to as “Canada’s Provence.” This term was coined by the late great Canadian foodie, James Barber. Of course, what James was alluding to is the vast larder of food and drink that our region has to offer. And it’s not surprising why. Largely due to its fertile soil and temperate climate, Cowichan has always been a robust agricultural region. Since the early 1800s, the area has been a prosperous hub for land-based operations such as orchards, grain farms, dairies and meat producers. Additionally, since Cowichan is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, it’s also blessed with the bounty of the sea. For eons, First Nations people have been experts in the cultivation of seafood, including a wide variety of shellfish and salmon. When you consider the subsequent influx of wineries, cideries, lavender farms, cheese makers, bakeries, fishmongers, organic growers and other artisanal producers of food and drink, it stands to reason why the region is becoming a real destination for foodies. In fact, Cowichan is such a prolific producer of epicurean delights that it now has its own festival: the Savour Cowichan Festival. Over 10 days in late September, you can attend more than 60 events where you can literally get a taste of the world-class epicurean industry that’s emerging here. How do you fit in all of Cowichan’s food and drink delights in a single trip? (It is possible.) We’ll get to that in a minute, but in the meantime, feast your eyes on some of our “Best Ofs.”

If you’re dreaming of an ideal Cowichan getaway, it just so happens that we’ve compiled a “dream team” of places and proprietors already making this spectacular place famous.

The definition of “locavore”

is “one whose diet consists principally of locally grown or produced food.” Here in Cowichan it’s likely that you could eat for a year on locally produced food without having the same item twice. Suffice it to say that locavore menus abound here! Here are a few of them to consider:

From quaint coffee shops and unassuming bistros to sprawling country farms and vineyards, here are some of the best “Food and Cheers” that await you in Cowichan.

Unsworth Winery Restaurant

Located along a picturesque country road in the heart of our wine country is Unsworth Winery. Their restaurant operates out of a restored Victorian farmhouse and overlooks acres of vineyards. Chef Maartyn Hoogeveen and Manager Mark Niven keep things as local as they can, with most ingredients sourced from neighbouring farmers and producers. Unsworth Restaurant is good – very good – so make sure you get a reservation.  2915 Cameron Taggart Rd #1, Mill Bay |

Vinoteca on the Vineyard

Vinoteca on the Vineyard is a restaurant associated with Vigneti Zanatta Winery, Vancouver Island’s first estate winery, located in the pastoral Glenora region of Cowichan. Chef Fatima da Silva prepares meals made of in-season, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. Enjoy a delicious plate of pasta and a glass of wine on the deck of what was once the original farmhouse. 5039 Marshall Rd, Duncan |

Hudson’s on First



Located in a house built in 1906, Hudson’s on First is a multiple award winning farmto-table fine dining restaurant located in Duncan. With menu items like “slow braised Westholme Farm shin of beef” and “Salt Spring Island mussels,” it’s no wonder critics and customers rave about Hudson’s.   163 1 St, Duncan |

The Old Firehouse Wine & Cocktail Bar

The Old Firehouse Wine & Cocktail Bar is a delightfully cozy spot located in the heart of Old Town Duncan. They feature an extensive collection of wines, cocktails, whiskies, beers and spirits and as for their lunch and dinner menus Chef Ian Blom consistently uses fresh, local ingredients. With offerings like house-cured meats, roast duck breast and crispy goat cheese, you’ll soon be in culinary seventh heaven. 40 Ingram St, Duncan |>

Genoa Bay Café

If you drive south on the wonderfully winding Genoa Bay Road, you can’t help but bump into the picturesque hamlet of Genoa Bay. Located right on the dock is Genoa Bay Café, a casual fine dining restaurant with a fabulous deck that puts it in a league of its own. Ever seen wild otters playing in the ocean while you sip wine and nibble on brandied garlic escargot? You just might at Genoa Bay Café.  5000 Genoa Bay Rd #9, Duncan

Craig Street Brew Pub

The Masthead Restaurant

In 1863 – before Canada became a country – there was the rough and tumble Columbia Hotel, overlooking the water in the heart of Cowichan Bay. Today, the building still exists, and although it’s no longer a hotel, it does feature an acclaimed fine dining restaurant that continues to garner rave reviews. The Masthead offers many local wines and food that Chef Martin Harrison prepares with fresh, locallysourced ingredients.  1705 Cowichan Bay Road, Cowichan Bay

If you guessed that Duncan’s Craig Street Brewing Co. is located on Craig Street, you would be spot on. Because it’s a brewery, their restaurant has a unique selection of made-on-site beers like Cow Bay Lager and Mt. Prevost Porter. Their pub food is renowned and if you happen to be in Duncan on any given Wednesday, take advantage of their $10 burger and beer deal.   25 Craig St, Duncan |

Merridale Cidery-Bistro

“Eat, drink and be Merri” – is the mantra at the bistro located at Merridale Cider & Distillery. Yes, they may be renowned for their award-winning cider and spirits, but the fare in their bistro is equally exquisite. The bistro’s concept is simple: the melding of locally sourced ingredients into a menu that lacks pretension. Central to the bistro are large brick ovens that work overtime producing cider-leavened breads, fresh pastries and Merridale’s signature dish, pizza. Need to get married and have a honeymoon? They can arrange that too.   1230 Merridale Rd, Cobble Hill | PAge


Chocolate Pearl When you think of foodyism, the first things that may come to mind are main courses. However, here in Cowichan, the sa-weet segment of foodyism is very well represented. Here’s a list of just some of the diet-wrecking, sweet-tooth-satisfying, must-visit contenders.

Founded by designer/chocolatier Cheryl Painter, Chocolate Pearl is a visual and culinary sensation. Located in a bright and extensively renovated shop on Craig Street in Old Town Duncan, this must-visit boutique features a tantalizing assortment of artisanal chocolates, handmade in small batches at the shop. Their selection includes “Chocolate Pearls” with fillings like raspberry caramel, mango caramel and even a stout beer ganache. Can’t decide? Order an espresso and give it some thought. 133 Craig Street, Duncan |

Original Udder Guys Ice Cream & Candy

A famous summer stop for vacation-goers and locals, Udder Guys features many flavours of artisanal ice cream freshly made on location daily, without artificial additives or preservatives. Yum!  1765 Cowichan Bay Road, Cowichan Bay |

Hansel & Gretel’s Candy Company

Chemainus’ fairytale candy shop! Filled with many of your old candy favourites and new sweet treats, their shop will take you back to your childhood. 9748 Willow Street, Chemainus | 250-246-1059



Old Town Bakery

Located in historic Ladysmith, Old Town Bakery is a full-service bakery that’s renowned for its to-die-for freshly-made cinnamon buns, bread, sausage rolls, Cornish pasties, birthday cakes, pastries and apple pies. Need to decide? Think about it over lunch, which they also provide. 510 1st Avenue, Ladysmith | 250-245-2531

True Grain Bread

Let’s face it, when you encounter a bakery with an old bicycle suspended above its front door, you know you’re in for something special. Founded in 2004, this award-winning Cowichan Bay bakery is worldrenowned for its breads and baked goods, handcrafted from scratch using organic ingredients and stone milled flour. If there’s one business that defines “artisanal” in Cowichan, it has to be True Grain Bread. Too many products to mention – let’s just say you’ll find it hard to leave without a mouthful of cookie and an armful of baked goods. 1725 Cowichan Bay Road, Cowichan Bay |



For many visitors to Cowichan, their day begins with a hot cup of tea or coffee.

Here we have a wide variety of independent coffee shops and even a farm that grows tea. Are you ready for an eye-opener? Here are a few places worth visiting.

Fishbowl CafÉ

Located close to Queen Margaret’s School in Duncan is the new Fishbowl Café, which serves up delicious treats, light lunches, tea from Westholme Tea Farm and coffee from Drumroaster Coffee. A recent review says it all: “My workplace had a catered lunch from here today... I am not a “foodie,” so when I am impressed by food it’s a big deal. This food was amazing!” 580 Cairnsmore Street, Duncan | 250-597-4563

Coffee on the Moon

“Houston, we have one of the best locations for coffee and meeting friends.” Located in Duncan, “The Moon” is more than a place to fuel up on caffeine. Here, there’s a wide variety of drinks available, from silky smooth lattes, decadent mochas and chai lattes to teas and Italian sodas. In the summer, they also produce wonderful iced coffee and fruit smoothies. The Moon also offers delectable sweet treats and write-home-about panini sandwiches. 501 Canada Ave, Duncan |

Drumroaster Coffee

Started by Geir Oglend and family, Drumroaster roasts and sells its own coffee along with a delicious assortment of baked goods. Always packed with locals and staffed by friendly people, Drumroaster is one of those coffee places that seems to have its own personality. If you want to hear what’s going on the valley, all you have to do is eavesdrop a little! Drumroaster is located in Valleyview Centre. 1400 Cowichan Bay Rd, Cobble Hill |

Café la Vie

A small vegan café located in the heart of Duncan serving comfort foods with a vegan twist! Superb baking and even homemade vegan mayonnaise. Outstanding! 171 Canada Ave, Duncan | 250-597-8168

Shawnigan House Coffee & Chocolate

Shawnigan House is a community-driven coffee and chocolate shop that uses locally roasted, fair trade coffee beans, Cowichan Teafarm Teas and in-house chocolate treats. Located right on the main drag as you drive into the village. 1761 Shawnigan-Mill Bay Rd, Shawnigan Lake |

Willow Street Café

Willow Street Café is owned and operated by Michelle and Phil Mavis, a couple that shares a passion for good food and meeting new people. Located in a restored heritage building, Willow Street Cafe serves up wraps, quesadillas, sandwiches, pizza and more. Their smoked salmon bagels are something to write home about. 9749 Willow Street, Chemainus |

Java World

Java world – home to outstanding coffee, amazing breakfast sandwiches, friendly service and the almost-world-famous banana chocolate loaf. Oh yes, and they have a drive-through too! Located just off the highway in the centre of Duncan. 5811 York Road, Duncan | 250-748-6481

Duncan Garage Café and Bakery

The Duncan Garage Café and Bakery is a renowned vegetarian bistro located in the restored Duncan Garage building and featuring many locally sourced, organic ingredients. They serve breakfast and lunch plus organic coffee, tea, specialty drinks, muffins and treats. 330 Duncan St, Duncan | 250-748-6223

Westholme Tea Farm

Celebrated both far and wide, Westholme Tea Farm is owned and operated by Victor Vesely and Margit Nellemann. The former is a true renaissance farmer/businessperson and the latter is a ceramicist who makes extraordinary teaware – ideally suited for the brewing and serving of their seven, farm-grown, single-origin organic Canadian teas. All teatime snacks sold at the tea shop are made by local baker Michelle Plain and are infused with Westholme Tea. 8350 Richards Trail, Duncan | PAge


Pioneer House Restaurant

Located just south of Duncan, along the Trans-Canada Highway, in the strip known as “Whippletree Junction” is the unmistakable, wooden-framed Pioneer House Restaurant. They have an outstanding lunch and dinner menu, but their brunch is legendary. While you’re considering their eggs Benny or Florentine, ask your server about their 1890’s-era wooden bar that came from a saloon in Butte, Montana. 4675 Trans-Canada Hwy, Duncan |

Duncan Garage Café and Bakery

If you’re looking for homemade, vegetarian fare, park yourself in the Duncan Garage, a popular and trendy local hangout. Breakfast is served 7:30-11am daily. They bake all their own breads, serve organic eggs and incorporate local and organic produce. If you choose to eat vegan or gluten free, you will find it at The Garage. 101, 330 Duncan Street, Duncan | 250-748-6223

The Arbutus Café

“A Duncan institution,” is how one reviewer put it. “Not fancy, but excellent food,” wrote another. Located at the northeast corner of Kenneth and Jubilee Streets in Old Town Duncan is the acclaimed Arbutus Café. If you’re looking for a traditional brunch featuring eggs, bacon and divine hash browns, plus prompt, friendly service, put The Arbutus Café on your list of must-visits. 195 Kenneth St, Duncan | 250-746-5443 PAge


Corner House Café

If you’ve ever watched the coffee shop scenes in the TV show Seinfeld, you’ll know what to expect when you have brunch at the Corner House Café. Located at the corner of Jubilee and Kenneth Streets in Old Town Duncan, The Corner House Café offers booths, traditional fare, fast service and an impressive collection of model airplanes! 181 Jubilee St, Duncan | 250-748-9211

The Crepevine

For many people, the definition of brunch includes crepes – those delicious, thin pancakes, rolled up with various fillings. If you’re one of those people and happen to be in Duncan, then you simply must visit The Crepevine, a funky, independent operation that serves delicious crepes and croissants as well as soups, stews, fries, pastries and arguably Duncan’s best poutine. Gluten-free options are also available. 71 Jubilee Street, Duncan | | 250-715-1020

Dog House Family Restaurant

Situated on the main strip of Duncan is the iconic Dog House Family Restaurant, an establishment that began as a hot dog stand in 1954. Known for its foot-long hot dogs, burgers and delectable pies, The Dog House also features a superb brunch. The Dog House was a favourite haunt of artist E.J .Hughes, who lived in Duncan and received the Order of Canada in 2001. 271 Trans-Canada Highway, Duncan | 250-746-4614

Bridgemans Bistro

Willow Street CafÉ

Shaker Mill Restaurant

In the Beantime Café

Opened in 2013, Bridgemans Bistro is located on the waters of Mill Bay and offers astounding views of Saanich Inlet, North Saanich and Mt. Baker. But believe it or not, as lovely as the views and ambiance are here, they take second billing to the food. Brunch is especially popular amongst locals and visitors. Reservations are highly recommended! 740 Handy Road, Mill Bay‬|

Located in Lake Cowichan, the Shaker Mill is renowned as being one of the best breakfast spots in the Cowichan Valley. It takes a jaunt to get there from Duncan, but it’s worth the trip. Their breakfast menu (which is available all day) includes skillets, omelettes, corned beef hash and B.O.B. (Breakfast On a Bun), which is kind of like an S.O.S. if you’re really, really hungry. Seriously, if you’re in Lake Cowichan, make sure you stop by. 72 Cowichan Lake Road, Lake Cowichan | 250-749-6350 |

Bonnie Martin Restaurant

In the heart of Chemainus is the Bonnie Martin Restaurant, an independent, homestyle restaurant that serves up exquisite fare – including heavenly omelettes and hotcakes that are worth writing home about. With more than 100 items on their menu, they’re sure to have something to satisfy your appetite. 877 Mill St, Chemainus |

Owl’s Nest Bakery and Bistro

Located on Chemainus’ main thoroughfare, Owl’s Nest Bakery and Bistro serves delicious homemade food, typically made with fresh local ingredients. Breakfast is served all day and includes breakfast panini, eggs benny and waffles. Lunch is available too and they offer a full espresso bar, teas, iced coffees, plus beer and wine. If you like owls, you’re in for a treat here, as there are more than a few perched in various spots! 9752 Willow St, Chemainus |

Also located in Chemainus, the Willow Street Café is owned and operated by Michelle and Phil Mavis, a couple that share a passion for good food and meeting new people. Located in a restored heritage building, Willow Street Café serves up wraps, quesadillas, sandwiches, pizza and more. Their smoked salmon bagels are simply divine. 9749 Willow Street, Chemainus |

Ladysmith’s In The Beantime Café specializes in fresh, homemade food, made from scratch. Their breakfast menu is extensive, and features the “$4.99 Breakfast” from Monday to Friday. The café was a top 3 finalist in the 2014 Business Examiner Vancouver Island Awards in the food service category. They were also a winner of the Spirit of Ladysmith best small business award in 2013. 18 High Street, Ladysmith |

Wild Poppy Bistro

Wild Poppy is a gluten- and peanut-free facility that makes everything from scratch. Some of their gluten-free items include scones, buns, muffins, cookies, cheesecakes, fruit tarts and granola. They also offer gluten-free wedding and birthday cakes. How has Wild Poppy been embraced in Ladysmith? This actual Facebook comment seems to sum up the love: “The food and service was amazing!! Prices are super reasonable… we definitely recommend the turtle cheesecake!!” 541 1st Avenue, Ladysmith | 250-924-8696

Old Town Bakery

Also in Ladysmith, is Old Town Bakery, a full-service bakery that’s renowned for its to-die-for, freshly made cinnamon buns, bread, sausage rolls, Cornish pasties, birthday cakes, pastries and apple pies. Says one Facebook post, “Karen is the best baker. I’ve never had one pastry that wasn’t exquisite.” 510 1st Avenue, Ladysmith | 250-245-2531 PAge




In the amphitheater at Transfer Beach in Ladysmith

On the marina in Genoa Bay

If you have a love in your life and a ring burning a hole in your pocket, may we propose Cowichan as the place to pop the question? Romance isn’t just in the air here, but in the rolling fields, mountains and beaches too. Here are some places that provide the perfect backdrop for passion.

At the Chemainus Theatre

during their exquisite buffet dinner

On the back deck of the Masthead Restaurant in Cowichan Bay

At the top of Cobble Hill Mountain, overlooking the valley PAge


Deerholme Farm

In Cowichan one can find a trove of delicious, freely growing items –if you know where to look. To help you with that is chef and author Bill Jones, proprietor of Deerholme Farm in Glenora. Bill, who has cooked in Michelin-starred restaurants in France and the UK, offers a course in foraging, where you can explore the wild foods of Cowichan and then sit down to enjoy it all in a delicious meal. Deerholme Farm dinners feature local food prepared in innovative styles and have been featured in prominent publications like Gourmet Magazine, Travel and Leisure, The Globe and Mail and Vancouver Magazine. According to The Globe and Mail, “There’s no doubt that this is one of the best entries into the burgeoning Cowichan Valley food community – a chance to taste the finest local food in the land, along with some fascinating company. It’s a magical little place – and it’s not just the mushrooms.”



Open by appointment only at select events during the year. In the fall wild mushroom dinners are a specialty. 4830 Stelfox Road, Duncan |

The definition of the word “forage” is “to search widely for food or provisions.” Lately, the word has taken on a new meaning, insofar as the “search” isn’t just for sustenance – but for many food items associated with haute cuisine.

Not to be confused with the sandwich and donut-slinging “coffee trucks” that cater to construction sites, The Food Truck has developed a niche all its own here in Cowichan. Although many do offer sandwiches, most serve haute cuisine centred on locavore menus. In Lake Cowichan there’s Taka Nacho, a mobile Asian fusion force that’s famous for its butter chicken tacos with kimchi. In Cobble Hill, keep your eye out for Taco Revolution (handmade tacos from scratch) and in Duncan, watch for “Jake’s on the Road”, a food trailer operated by Red Arrow Brewing and overseen by the award-winning local chef Dan Hudson.



Owl’s Nest Bakery and Bistro

Heritage Indian Cuisine

Heritage Indian Cuisine may be new on the foody scene here, but already they’ve created a sensation amongst those who love their Indian food authentic and elegantly prepared. Their menu includes beef, chicken, lamb, seafood, and vegetarian, and will take you on a culinary journey throughout all of India. Located at Berkey’s Corner on the outskirts of Duncan. 3307 Cowichan Lake Rd, Duncan

Farm Table Inn

Just 15 minutes from Duncan on the way to Lake Cowichan is the Farm Table Inn, a charming bed & breakfast, restaurant and farm. Owners Evelyn Koops and George Gates encourage you to join them for dinner, Sunday brunch and/or a weekend stay. 6755 Cowichan Lake Road, Lake Cowichan 250-932-3205



Located on Chemainus’ main thoroughfare, Owl’s Nest Bakery and Bistro serves delicious homemade food, typically made with fresh local ingredients. Breakfast is served all day and includes breakfast panini, eggs benny and waffles. Lunch is available too, and they offer a full espresso bar, teas, iced coffees, plus beer and wine. If you like owls, you’re in for a treat here, as there are more than a few perched in various spots! 9752 Willow St, Chemainus

Wild Poppy Bistro

Located in downtown Ladysmith, Wild Poppy is a gluten- and peanut-free facility that makes everything from scratch. Some of their gluten-free items include scones, buns, muffins, cookies, cheesecakes, fruit tarts and granola. They also offer gluten-free wedding and birthday cakes. How has Wild Poppy been embraced in Ladysmith? This actual Facebook comment seems to sum up the love: “Food and service was amazing!! This busy little joint killed it on all levels! Prices are super reasonable, definitely recommend the turtle cheesecake!!” 541 1st Avenue, Ladysmith | 250-924-8696

Hilary’s Cheese and Wine Bar

Who doesn’t require a cheese fix every now and then? If you’re one of those people and happen to be in the vicinity of picturesque Cowichan Bay, then you need to make your way to Hilary’s Cheese, located at 1725 Cowichan Bay Road. Oh wait, what goes great with cheese? If you said “wine,” then you’re going to be doubly delighted, because General Manager Sonja Todd will be happy to serve you that too. Hilary’s has been voted #1 for cheese selections on Vancouver Island for the past 13 years. 1737 Cowichan Bay Road, Cowichan Bay

Duncan Farmers Market

With 180 vendors, the renowned Duncan Farmers Market is spread out over several city blocks in downtown Duncan and takes place every Saturday. This local institution subscribes to a “you make it, you bake it, you grow it, you sell it” philosophy. Here, you’ll find the freshest local fruits, vegetables, baking, jams and jellies, honey, crafts, clothing and more! The 100 mile diet is more than just a fad here; in many cases, the fresh comestibles offered at these markets are the same as the ones served at Cowichan’s countless restaurants and bistros. Spring/Summer 9am-2pm – Fall/Winter 10am-2pm

Bird’s Eye Cove Farm

Dayliner Café

Nha Trang Maki Sushi Restaurant

Red Arrow Brewing Company

If you’ve seen picturesque postcards of Cowichan, chances are one of them may have been taken at Bird’s Eye Cove Farm, an idyllic, 300-acre working farm located on the winding country road between Maple Bay and Genoa Bay. Founded in 1860, the farm features a traditional hand-hewn timber frame event facility that’s become famously in demand for weddings. Also wildly popular are their “Pizza Nights,” which take place from May (Mondays only) to mid-September. 5881 Genoa Bay Road, Duncan

Located in the heart of Old Town Duncan, Nha Trang serves some of the best sushi in Cowichan. Voted “Best Sushi on Vancouver Island” by the Victoria Times Colonist, Nha Trang offers lunch and dinner menus featuring sushi rolls, sashimi, tempura, Vietnamese special dishes and hot pots, plus a selection of vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Nha Trang also serves exquisite martinis every night at their martini bar. 62 Kenneth Street, Duncan,

If you visit the Dayliner Café in Saltair and think you’re in an old train station, it’s because, well, you are. The Dayliner Cafe (named after the passenger train that used to run up and down the Island) is now a delightful bistro and artisan market located just north of Chemainus. On the menu, you’ll find delicious wraps, quiche, soups, salads and much more. Yes, they’re licensed, and they have a wide selection of local beers and wines. 10445 Chemainus Road, Chemainus

Located in a former motorcycle fabrication shop is the Red Arrow Brewing Company, founded in the summer of 2015. A growing sensation on the Island, Red Arrow is a locally owned microbrewery that handcrafts their beers in small batches to achieve the highest quality and boldest flavours. They have both a tasting room and retail store, where you can try their wares, fill your growlers and shop for cool merchandise too. With their state-of-the-art facility, Red Arrow is able to capture and re-use 100% of the water they use during the brewing process. 5255 Chaster Rd, Duncan |



Sai’s Thai Restaurant

Sawmill Taphouse and Grill

Located in Chemainus, The Sawmill Taphouse and Grill is a hip, new 100-seat “cutting edge eatery” featuring pizza from a wood-fired oven, mouth-watering wings and beauteous burgers, plus a wide selection of Pacific Northwest craft beers—26 on tap, the largest selection in Cowichan—plus local Cowichan ciders and wines. It’s very authentic, right down to the imposing mill saw blade hanging on the wall. Dining is superb here, and a visit is a must if you’re in this neck of the woods. 3055 Oak Street, Chemainus



Cow Cafe

This restaurant is a local institution in Cowichan and features West Coast-inspired cuisine that defies description, like The Cow Classic Burger, halibut & chips and hand-cut steaks. Yum, yum, yum. Chef Matt Heyne performs his magic daily at the Cow’s idyllic, waterfront location in Cowichan Bay. Need some time to decide? Give it great consideration while you savour a cocktail, glass of wine or pint of any of their local craft beers. 1765 Cowichan Bay Road, Cowichan Bay

Located in Old Town Duncan, Sai’s Thai Restaurant is one of those hidden gems that really completes a visit to Duncan. Don’t let their unassuming nature detract from the quality of the experience. Although they have a small footprint, their food is as flavourful as it is affordable. Owner and head chef May Slawson is a maestro in the kitchen and never disappoints. Her spring rolls are a must, and her beef and chicken satay may well be the deciding factor that makes you return to Cowichan next year. 161 Station Street, Duncan

The Lion Rampant Scottish Pub

Just north of Duncan is Maple Bay, an historic and picturesque waterfront hamlet. Maple Bay is known for its lovely beach, marinas and, most recently, The Lion Rampant Scottish Pub, the town’s “local,” nestled on the northern fringe of the bay. Extensively renovated in 2014, The Lion Rampant features an impressive menu, (yes, they serve haggis) an outstanding selection of craft beers and a bonny variety of scotch whiskys. All of this framed with a 180º, unobstructed view of the Salish Sea and Salt Spring Island. Och aye! 6777 Beaumont Avenue, Maple Bay

The Rock Cod Cafe

You have a craving for fish & chips – and who doesn’t every now and again? If this happens to you while you’re in Cowichan, look no further than The Rock Cod Cafe, located in the heart of Cowichan Bay. A consistent recipient of rave reviews from TripAdvisor and international critics, The Rock Cod Cafe features fresh seafood, fish & chips, fish tacos and a host of other good fare. In 2012, The Rock Cod Cafe was featured on The Food Network’s show You Gotta Eat Here. What more of an endorsement do you need? 1759 Cowichan Bay Road, Cowichan Bay

The Royal Dar

Located in the heart of Duncan is The Royal Dar, a restaurant run by Gurb and Kam Gill that features outstanding authentic Indian cuisine. Their lunch and dinner menu includes butter chicken, chicken vindaloo, lamb dishes, seafood, various curries and vegetarian dishes, plus an assortment of breads (such as tandoori roti and garlic naan) that may well steal the show. The chefs at Royal Dar hail from northern India, so every dish is created in traditional Indian style. 148 3rd Street, Duncan |

Bridgeman’s Bistro

Located on a dock in Mill Bay overlooking Saanich Inlet is the incomparable Bridgeman’s Bistro. With menu selections to please every palate, an extensive wine list and a wide variety of beer and cider on tap, Bridgeman’s has something for everyone. Here, you’ll find well-cooked, honest, uncomplicated but imaginative food. Their team of chefs, led by Tom Corless, is passionate about sourcing both classic and new ingredients straight from the farm and right off the boats. 740 Handy Road, Mill Bay

Cure Artisan Meat and Cheese

Reviewers on Facebook can only allocate a maximum of five stars to a particular business. However, if six or seven stars were available, it’s likely Cure Artisan Meat and Cheese would receive them. This wildly popular “charcuterie,” located in Valleyview Centre in Cobble Hill features house-made pâtés, sausages and cured meats as well as a large selection of local and imported cheese. A recent Facebook post says it all: “Great service and a wonderful selection of craft cheeses and meats.” If you’re thinking about having a picnic in the Valley, Cure should be the first place you visit. Valleyview Centre, 1400 Cowichan Bay Rd, Cobble Hill | 250-929-2873

Alderlea Farm & Café

Run by John and Katy Ehrlich, Alderlea Farm & Café is a “biodynamic” farm that doesn’t use artificial pesticides or fertilizers. Here they focus on natural properties of the landscape to cultivate a complete, balanced ecosystem. The food here is legendary, and if you need help deciding, consider “Farmer John’s Favourite Grilled Cheese Sandwich,” served optionally with sauerkraut, onion and Alderlea Farm bacon. By the way, in 2014, Katy was named “Rural Woman of the Year” by the Lieutenant Governor of B.C. , a recognition bestowed on women who have made a difference and are valued members of the farming community. 3390 Glenora Road, Duncan



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What originally made Cowichan a prolific agricultural region now defines the terroir of an increasingly acclaimed wine region. Since the first commercial vineyard was planted here in the 1970s, the region has exploded with a profusion of vintners who craft their wines with traditional vinifera grapes such as Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and Ortega, along with other varietals. Other potables you may discover here include tayberry, blueberry and raspberry wines, port-style dessert wines and exquisite balsamic vinegar. There’s even a winery that blends varietals with its own lavender. Cowichan is also home to a number of excellent craft breweries and distilleries, one of which is also Canada’s first estate cidery. How do you experience all of this during a single trip to Cowichan? Well, if you refer to the inset map (and pace yourself), you can visit the lion’s share of these operations in a selfguided tour, or if you prefer, via coach in a guided tour. In all, and depending on the time of your visit, you’ll be able to drop in on and experience no less than 20 establishments, many of which offer tours and have their own bistros, gift shops and tasting rooms.

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Alderlea Vineyards Before there was a city known as “Duncan,” there was a town known as “Alderlea” – the name of a farm run by William Chalmers Duncan, one of the city’s pioneers. The name “Alderlea” remained until it was changed to “Duncan” at the turn of the century. The word now represents an outstanding vineyard and winery that took root in 1992 when Roger and Nancy Dosman moved to Cowichan from Vancouver. The beautiful, 10-acre vineyard, overlooking Quamichan Lake, has all the requirements for the production of quality grapes. Some of Europe’s best-known grape varieties thrive here in the warm Cowichan summer. Alderlea’s white wines are fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels, while their reds are aged in American and French oak barrels.

1751 Stamps Rd, Duncan 250-746-7122 Hours: By appointment or Saturday & Sunday 1-5 PM



Ampersand Distilling Co.



Ampersand Distilling Company is a family-run craft distillery located on a five-acre organic farm in the Sahtlam region of Cowichan, just west of Duncan. Though trained as engineers, father and son duo Stephen and Jeremy Schacht leveraged their knowledge of science and traditional distilling techniques to create artisanal gin and vodka that simply defy description. Like the Ampersand symbol (&), they are all about bringing things together: ingredients & techniques; science & art; tradition & innovation. The water used for the spirits comes from a freshwater spring that the Schachts discovered on their farm, and their signature gin recipe includes ingredients such as juniper, coriander, fresh lemon peel, cardamom, angelica and grains of paradise. Their flagship product, Ampersand Gin, received a silver medal at the 2015 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and was voted “2015 Local Beverage of the Year� by EAT Magazine readers.

4077 Lanchaster Rd, Duncan 250-737-1880 Tasting room hours: by appointment only



Averill Creek



The fact that Averill Creek Vineyard is located on the southern slopes of Mount Prevost affords it a unique distinction: Vancouver Island’s only gravity-fed winery. Owner, Dr. Andy Johnston is a Welsh-born physician who practiced in Edmonton for 35 years before moving to Vancouver Island to pursue his passion for all things to do with wine. Averill Creek’s small lot plantings of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Marchel-Foch, Foch-Cabernet, Cab-Libre and Merlot are cared for by hand. Yields are kept low to increase the quality of fruit harvested. Averill Creek has a licensed picnic area so that you can BYOP (bring your own picnic), but if you don’t have one, you needn’t worry as they have partnered with Hudson’s On First Restaurant. Simply call ahead to pre-order your picnic and voilà, it will be ready when you arrive at the winery!


6552 North Road, Duncan 250-709-9986 Hours: Tasting bar open Saturdays & Sundays, 11am - 5pm



Blue Grouse Estate Winery



Located in the Glenora region of Cowichan is Blue Grouse Estate Winery, whose roots go back to 1977 when the site was used to beta test more than a hundred varieties of grapes. Today, the operation is run by Paul and Cristina Brunner, who bought the winery in 2012. Like many winery owners, Paul’s previous career had little to do with winemaking. Once a jet-setting mining executive, Paul heeded a little voice inside his head that urged him to follow his passion for wine. The fact that the Brunners searched many countries for the perfect location only goes to show how special a place Blue Grouse is. An extensive renovation completed in 2015 makes Blue Grouse one of the most modern facilities in the Valley. They have recently announced the opening of Grouse House, an exclusive Bed & Bottle retreat for wine lovers, exquisitely set within the heart of the historic estate vineyard. On their vineyard, Paul and Cristina grow Ortega, Bacchus, Pinot Gris, Siegerrebe, Pinot Noir and Black Muscat. Luxury Travel Guide recently awarded them “Winery & Vineyard of the Year 2017”.

2182 Lakeside Road, Duncan (250) 743-3834 Hours: February: open Thursday to Saturday from 11am - 5pm March: open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am - 5pm May - October: Daily, 11am - 5pm



Cherry Point Estate Wines



Located just east of Cobble Hill is Cherry Point – a quiet seaside enclave that overlooks Salt Spring Island and the Saanich Peninsula. Although there may be a number of cherry trees in the neighbourhood, what really puts this location on the map is Cherry Point Estate Wines, owned and run by a wine-loving economist from Colombia, Xavier Bonilla. Xavier is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin with a master’s degree in agriculture. Bonilla and his winemaker, Australian-trained Dean Canadzich, produce the eight or so wines made from the 12 varietals grown in the 19-acre vineyard. In addition to Pinot Noir, the vineyard grows Ortega, Pinot Gris, Siegerrebe, a little Gewürztraminer, Agria and Castel, among others. Using her experience from their West Vancouver restaurant, Maria Bonilla oversees Cherry Point’s Bistro, a popular wedding venue and a favourite stop for wine tourists.

840 Cherry Point Rd, Cobble Hill 250-743-1272 Hours: Tasting room open every day 10am - 5pm Bistro: opens for the season as of May 1st 



Damali Lavender & Winery

You may know that the lavender plant has fragrant properties, but did you know it could be used in the production of potables, specifically wine? Such is the case at Damali Lavender & Winery. Located at Telegraph Road and Hutchinson Road in Cobble hill, Damali produces a wide selection of grape wines, fruit wines and unique blends featuring lavender from the estate. In 2007, a retail and woodworking shop was added to give visitors a unique glimpse into Cowichan farm lifestyle and the French-Provincial feel of the estate. What was once a sheep farm is now a going concern that continues to yield lavender, fruit and award-winning wines. Make sure to BYOP (bring your own picnic), because Damali has a licensed picnic area and labyrinth where you can smell the lavender, enjoy a glass of wine, take a selfie and brag to your friends back home. A recent comment from a Winnipeg visitor sums it up: “Now it’s off my bucket list.. Wow…WOW!”

3500 Telegraph Rd, Cobble Hill 250-743-4100 Hours: Tasting Room is open 7 days a week from 12pm - 4pm



Deol Estate Winery



Located just off the Cowichan Highway on Somenos Road is Deol Estate Winery. With vast viticulture experience in the Okanagan Valley, this family enterprise transformed a dairy farm into an 18-acre vineyard that now produces eight varieties of grapes – the main varieties including Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Marechal Foch and Gamay Noir. All the wines are available in a tasting room that the family has built in a renovated century-old farmhouse. Like the Deol family and their wines, it has a sincere and unpresuming ambiance. Be sure to include Deol Estate Winery on your tasting circuit.

6645 Somenos Road, Duncan 250-746-3967 Hours: Wednesday to Sunday from 11 - 5pm



Divino Estate Winery PAge


Divino Estate Winery is a 40-acre Cobble Hill property owned and run since 1996 by Joe Busnardo, a Venetian who will tell you, “There are only two kinds of wine: the one you like and the one you don’t like.” Suffice to say, it’s very likely the wines you sample at Divino are the ones you will like. Prior to starting Divino, Joe owned vineyards in the Okanagan Valley and was credited with being the first to cultivate vinifera grape cuttings in Canada. Divino Wines include Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio, Merlot Cabernet, Trebbiano and a white blend Piccolo Bianco. Many special editions and limited release wines are only available at the winery.

1500 Freeman Rd, Cobble Hill 250-743-2311



Hours: Tasting room is open from 1pm - 5pm on Fridays and Saturdays throughout the year. Other times can be arranged by appointment.



Emandare Vineyard It’s pronounced “Em and Ahr” and it stands for “M” (Mike) and “R” (Robin), as in Mike and Robin Nierychlo, owners of Emandare Vineyard in Duncan. To understand their mission in life, all you need to do is glance at the winery’s blog URL: www. Originally from the Lower Mainland, Mike and Robin describe the purchase of their winery in 2013 as a “leap of faith.” That faith in their mission is paying off. The 6.5-acre property includes two acres of Pinot Noir and one acre of Sauvignon Blanc. They also grow Siegerrebe, Gewürztraminer, Maréchal Foch and a combined acre of a Blattner hybrids, Cabernet Foch. Stewardship of the land is very important to the couple – that’s why you’ll often hear the phrase, “Wine is grown, not made.” M&R, your wine is A-OK!

6798 Norcross Rd., Duncan 250-597-4075 Hours: Winter tasting room hours: Saturdays 12pm - 4pm Spring / summer tasting room hours: Thursday-Saturday 11am - 6pm



EnRico Winery PAge


Located along the winding Telegraph Road just north of Mill Bay is Enrico Winery. The 50-acre property was purchased in 2000 as a mixed farming operation with an extended vision to convert it to a vineyard and winery. The dream was realized by the Smith Family in 2007, when four acres of Pinot Gris and two acres of Pinot Noir were planted. The following year, Ortega, Cabernet Libre and Cabernet Foch were added, bringing the total planted area of the vineyard to 11 acres. Enrico encourages BYOP (bring your own picnic), and for this they have a picnic area situated near an idyllic, fish-stocked pond. Enrico also offers free, self-guided vineyard tours. Make their tasting room part of your tasting circuit!

A-3280 Telegraph Rd, Mill Bay 250-733-2356 Hours: The tasting room is open 7 days a week, noon - 4pm



GlenteRRa VinEyaRds Located in Cobble Hill is Glenterra Vineyards, a five-acre, dry-farmed vineyard. Their sustainable farming practices include mechanical weed control under the vine row to create mulch that suppresses the weeds and creates organic matter as it breaks down. Extensive canopy management creates airflow through their vineyard, which greatly reduces mildew and botrytis pressure. No chemical herbicides, systemic fungicides or pesticides are ever used – only natural fertilizers with organic ingredients and their own composted pomace for the vineyard. The vineyard consists of Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer and a section of 40 unique grape varieties from which they make their popular Vivace white blend and Brio red blend. Can’t decide on what to purchase? Give it some thought while you relax in their restaurant or tasting room.



3897 Cobble Hill Road, Cobble Hill 250-743-2330 Hours: Friday, Saturday & Sunday from noon to 4pm





Merridale Cidery & Distillery Even if you’ve never visited Cowichan, you may already be familiar with the name Merridale. Located on a picturesque 20-acre orchard in rural Cobble Hill, Merridale has become a Cowichan institution, known primarily for its wide selection of artisanal, made-on-the-premises ciders and more recently, spirits. Merridale Cidery is the brainchild of Janet Docherty and Rick Pipes who together have parlayed their operation into an award-winning destination that includes a cidery, distillery, bistro and accommodation. In fact, they are the first certified craft distillery in B.C., and their line of ciders have won numerous international awards. Following suit, their spirits have won awards in every competition that they have entered. Merridale will soon be branching out, so to speak, with the opening of a second distillery in Victoria, where they’ll focus on the production of craft whisky, gin and vodka along with craft beers made entirely from B.C. grains. In the meantime, be sure to savour their delights in Cobble Hill!

1230 Merridale Rd, Cobble Hill 250-743-4293 Hours: See website for current times.





Rocky Creek Winery “From corporate suits to gumboots” is not your typical tagline. So what’s the story with Rocky Creek Winery? Well, very simply, Rocky Creek owners Mark and Linda Holford went from working in the oil industry to running a winery. Mark is a chemical engineer and has a degree in environmental science – and the techniques he and Linda have been using to produce their award-winning wines were instilled in him by Mark’s father and grandfather. Rocky Creek features a number of crisp whites, a sparkling wine, a couple of light-bodied reds and a rosé, the latter of which is made using the saignée method to increase the concentration of the vineyard’s red wines. The winery has some other unorthodox offerings too, including the Island’s only wine made from Tempranillo and a divine blackberry wine. One of their finest endorsements came from the late, great Canadian wine aficionado and critic Jurgen Gothe, who said succinctly of Rocky Creek: “One of my favourite wineries.”

1854 Myhrest Rd, Cowichan Bay 250-748-5622 Hours: April: Fri to Sun, 11am - 4 pm May to Aug:  Daily, 11am - 4 pm September:  Wed to Sun, 11am - 4 pm





SilveRside Farm & WineRy Situated on Cobble Hill Road, just south of Valleyview Centre, is Silverside Farm, an operation that produces blueberries as well as berry wines and fortified (port-style) dessert wines. In addition to fresh berries and produce, they also offer jams, jellies and syrup made on site. How good are their offerings? Well, at the 2016 “All Canadian Wine Championships,” their Tayberry wine won double gold for a fourth year in a row and their Raspberry wine won gold for the second year in a row. Make sure you visit their tasting room, art gallery and gift shop.

3810 Cobble Hill Road, Cobble Hill 250-743-9149, 1-800-743-9149 Hours: Open Saturday & Sunday 11am - 5 pm or by appointment until May. June 1st: open daily from 11am - 6pm



Red Arrow Brewing Company Located in a former motorcycle fabrication shop is the incomparable Red Arrow Brewing Company, founded in the summer of 2015. A growing sensation on the Island, Red Arrow is a locally owned microbrewery that handcrafts their beers in small batches to achieve the highest quality and boldest flavours. All of their beers are brewed and packaged by hand on site to ensure optimum quality. They have both a tasting room and retail store where you can try their wares, fill your growlers and shop for cool merchandise too. In the milder months, they have a licensed self-serve courtyard ideally suited for picnics. Tours are available.

5255 Chaster Rd, Duncan 250-597-0037 Hours: Tues - Thurs, 11am - 6pm, Friday, 11am - 8pm, Mon, Sat & Sun 11am - 5pm



Riot Brewing 101A, 3055 Oak Street, Chemainus



Located in Chemainus, Riot Brewing is a new player on the microbrewery scene and is already gaining a fervent following. Founded by Aly Tomlin, Ralf Rosenke, Morgan Moreira and veteran brewmaster Fabian Specht, Riot is finally (finally) open in Chemainus. The microbrewery has a tasting room and a retail store offering pours and growler fills of flagship brands “Lipslide Lager,” “Junk Punch IPA” and “Life Partners Pale Ale,” as well as limited edition beers “Sorry We Took So Long Saison” and “Working Class Hero Dark Mild.”



Unsworth Vineyards Located along what might well be Cowichan’s most beautiful country road is Unsworth Vineyards, an operation run by Tim and Colleen Turyk. Tim, a UVic Economics grad, bought the winery’s 32 acres in 2009 after spending 40 years in the fishing industry. “Unsworth” was Tim’s mother’s maiden name, and thus the winery was named in honour of her memory. Unsworth’s Pinot Gris and Rosé have won awards in B.C. and nationally, while their Cuvée De L’ile, Allegro and Symphony blends have been critically acclaimed. Inside the restaurant, all walls and floors are made of locally sourced fir, and the marble that comprises the bar is from a nearby quarry. The dining room features the old farmhouse’s original fireplace and the sinks in the bathrooms were crafted by a local potter. The winery’s current ambassador and principal sommelier is son Chris, who aced his WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) exam at the young age of 19.

2915 Cameron Taggart Rd. Cobble Hill 250-929-2292 Hours: Tasting room: Wednesday through Sunday 11am - 6pm Restaurant: Wednesday through Sunday lunch and dinner, from 11am - close



VenturiSchulze vineyards



At Venturi-Schulze Vineyards, you’ll find purists: a family growing wines, ancient-method balsamic vinegar and other culinary products without pesticides or herbicides. Giordano Venturi and his microbiologist wife Marilyn left professional careers in 1987 to pursue a dream, starting a new life creating their natural, sustainable vineyard, winery and balsamic vinegary. Marilyn’s daughter Michelle Schulze returned in 1995 to learn the family business from the ground up. Not only do they avoid insecticides, they don’t irrigate and they remain stubbornly committed to the concept of “real” food grown with respect for the soil, the environment and their customers. Their portfolio of wines includes Brut Naturel bottle-fermented sparkling, bright whites such as the Primavera and Millefiori, deep and complex whites such as the Terracotta and Sassi, luscious reds such as the Pinot Noir and their naturally sweet amber Brandenburg No.3 wine. Venturi-Schulze was chosen as one of Canada’s top 20 food artisans in 2013 for their ancient method balsamic vinegar by the Ace Bakery Artisan Incubator.

4235 Vineyard Rd, Cobble Hill 250-743-5630 Hours: January to March: by appointment or when the gate is open. April to August: Drop-in tastings and sales: Wed to Sun: 10 am - 4:30 pm September to December: Drop-in tastings and sales: Wed to Sun: 10am - 4pm Please phone 250-743-5630 to check the daily message.



Q: What is Vancouver Island’s first estate winery? A: Vigneti Zanatta, otherwise known as Zanatta Vineyards, owned and operated by Loretta and Jim Moody.



ZanattA VineYaRds Located in Glenora, Zanatta is committed to tradition, with roots that run deep. The family has lived and worked on their land for over half a century and takes pride in watching a family legacy flourish. Over 25 acres of their land is dedicated to growing grapes, and they use 100% of their own fruit in the vinification of their wines, which include a divine selection of Champagne-style wines. If you have a burning desire for adventure, ask them about their annual “Burning of the Vine Clippings,” a traditional event that features something for the whole family. Zanatta has both a tasting room and a restaurant – Vinoteca On The Vineyard – that regularly garners rave reviews.

5039 Marshall Rd, Duncan Winery Telephone & email: (250) 748-2338 Restaurant Telephone & email: (250) 709-2279 Hours: Re-open on weekends March 11, 2017. Weekends until Easter, then Wednesday through Sunday noon - 4:30pm




Cowichan Uncovered Volume 1: Food and Cheers  

If you’re dreaming of an ideal Cowichan getaway, it just so happens that we’ve compiled a “dream team” of places and proprietors already mak...

Cowichan Uncovered Volume 1: Food and Cheers  

If you’re dreaming of an ideal Cowichan getaway, it just so happens that we’ve compiled a “dream team” of places and proprietors already mak...