Golden Wine From a Forgotten Grape on an Island Near Venice
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A leading prosecco producer revives an ancient variety in the Venice lagoon
The label on a vintage Dorona bottle is stunning — baked-on gold leaf, a few etched words, nothing more.
The original settlement of Venice took place in the isles of its northern lagoon when tribes from the shore cities, such as Altino, fled the invading Huns in the fifth century. They put down agricultural roots, but fresh-water malaria from the Piave River — long since diverted away from the lagoon — caused them to flee again to the salt-water confines of what is now the city of Venice, about five miles away.
Click here to see the Golden Wine From a Forgotten Grape on an Island Near Venice (Slideshow)
A chance discovery of an ancient grapevine caused the Bisol family from the hills of Valdobbiadene, quality prosecco producers, to found the first Venice vineyard since ancient times on one of these original islands, Mazzorbo, which connects by walking bridge to the tourist-friendly island of Burano. They called the estate "Venissa," and today an elegant restaurant and small guest house make Venissa an ideal place for those seeking isolation or a quiet launching pad for exploring Venice.
The Bisols invited me to Venissa recently to savor the ambience and to taste the first two vintages of Dorona — the resurrected golden grape and the wine made from it which the family owns exclusively.
Backstory: Two decades ago, a fire destroyed this 300-year-old villa in Treia, a four-hour drive east from Florence. The story goes that the farmer who lived there, Oscar Olivi, jumped out a window, broke his leg and never returned.
Design: Swiss architects Markus Wespi and Jérôme de Meuron spent four years restoring the gorgeous stone building. Inside, it’s white-washed and wood-beamed, with five spacious bedrooms.
American-Style Kitchen: “I wanted to be able to prepare risotto while guests are having a glass of wine next to me,” says one of Olivi’s owners, who spends holidays at the villa, “so we went for an American-style kitchen that opens onto the dining room.” The space is outfitted with professional-grade equipment from the Italian company ArcLinea.
Grilling With a View: An outdoor kitchen on the terra-cotta terrace has a new stainless steel grill and teppanyaki (Japanese griddle), plus thrilling views of the olive groves all around.
Local Wine & Cooking Guides: In Treia, sommeliers Amy Wadman (an American who has lived in Italy for more than 20 years) and her fiancé, Mirco Lucamarini (a Marche native and owner of nearby restaurant Casolare dei Segreti), are available to lead winery visits, give cooking classes and help stock Casa Olivi’s deep wine cellar.
Swim & Sushi: The Monte Conero Coast, a half-hour away, is a great spot for a swim and a breakfast of “Italian sushi” (crudo) at Michelin-starred chef Moreno Cedroni’s Clandestino.
Fashion Heaven: Prada, Miu Miu and Tod’s have outlets near Civitanova Marche, a town an hour’s drive from the villa. Sleeps 11 from $6,200 per week casaolivi.blogspot.com. —Megan Krigbaum
The Forgotten Wine Island – Madeira
Imagine hypothetically if wine region extraordinaire Bordeaux, with all its might and notoriousness, suddenly disappeared. Well, that’s pretty much what happened to the little wine Island of Madeira.
In the 16th century, the island was a well-established and notable wine region due to the fact it was a regular port of call on the way to the East Indies, a bustling commercial route. With imported technology from its cousins up in the Douro Valley, fortified wine (wine to which a distilled spirit, usually brandy, is added) was needed for the long voyages across the Atlantic and to quench the thirst of the crew. Madeira wine aged in those voyages became a delicacy appreciated from the British Colonies back to mainland Europe – these long voyages were top-notch wine ageing methods back then. The wine was so sought-after that the American forefathers use to have “Madeira parties” (ancestors of our current wine tastings) and by the 1600s, Madeira became the most popular wine in Britain’s North American colonies.
It got a huge push on popularity due to the 1660’s British crown ban on the import of products made or grown in Europe, unless shipped on British vessels on British ports (talk about protecting the local industry, eh?). Madeira products, however, were specifically exempted from the ban. From Boston to New Orleans, the commercial ties flourished and became high fashion for Thomas Jefferson and his band. The declaration of Independence was even toasted with Madeira! Then, all of a sudden, powdery mildew attacked in the mid-19th century, virtually destroying production for the next three years. It was then phylloxera’s turn to further take away the last breath of the industry. By the end of the century, most of the vines were uprooted to make space for sugar cane production. Fast- forward to the start of the 20th century when the industry was slowly regaining its feet, the Russian Revolution and the American Prohibition came and finished off the wine trade (both the Russian and the American markets were Madeira’s largest consumers). The island and its wine were virtually scratched off the map with new shipping technologies – the route wasn’t needed any longer.
As for the grape varieties, there are the Big Four (Sercial, Verdelho, Boal and Malvasia) and another pantheon of rare near-extinct grapes that if found, demand sky-rocket prices for their bottlings. The most widely planted grape is the Tinta Negra Mole (about 80% of all of island’s plantings), introduced post-phylloxera and is the only dark skinned grape variety used for Madeira wine. It has a thicker skin compared to the white varietals, more vigour and produces higher yields. It’s used for the cheaper Madeira wine, which includes the rainwater type and Madeira sauces for cooking.
Madeira wine is easily understood if you associate each grape variety with a style of wine – often the labels are produced as a single varietal, with blends being used either for the lower side of the spectrum or for the very high-end wines.
The Sercial grape, often cultivated at high altitudes in the south, in between 600m to 800m, and in the north, with strong maritime influences, has a late ripening cycle and it rarely achieves more than 11% alcohol before fortification. It’s always used to produce the “dry” style of Madeira, and it’s the only type of wine drank as an aperitif or alongside a meal. It’s pale in colour, often developing an amber coloured wine after ageing, offers a light-body and an incredible freshness, vibrant aromas and intense flavour characteristics – is lemony, with herbaceous notes and a stony mineral character.
Although this style is called “dry”, it has enough sugar to be considered a dessert wine effectively, all Madeira wines are sweet, with labelling terms describing style rather than types of wine. The ideal food pairing with this variety is what you’d pair Manzanilla or Fino Sherry with – nuts, olives, cheese and/or anchovies.
The Verdelho grape, the widest planted white variety in Madeira, is an early ripening variety that produces gold coloured wines with tropical and exotic fruit flavours. It is used to produce medium- dry style of wine, which develops a smokier character, is richer, more texturized and shows intensity and a subtle dryness to it. Undertones of spices and light caramel. Food pairings work with soup, gazpacho and even chowder. It is the most flexible type of Madeira and could be paired with most types of local cuisine.
Boal it’s a variety of late budding, early ripening and is planted in its majority in warmer, sunnier climates. Shows good acidity, it’s medium bodied, almost waxy and oily, intensely perfumed with hints of dried fruit and spices. After fortified and aged, this variety evolves into a densely scented wine, showing fragrances of roasted coffee, cacao, dates, golden raisins and salted caramel. Those characteristics are ideal with nutty and stewed fruit desserts, chocolate and aromatic and rich cheeses. It’s used for the Medium Sweet style.
For the sweetest type of Madeira, the grape variety used is the Malvasia Branca de Sao Jorge, which shows early buddying and late ripening. It produces a full-bodied and rich wine, luscious and is dark in colour. It reveals bouquets of spices and honey, turning to dark amber with complex notes of dried fruit, mocha, butterscotch, toffee nuts and marmalade. Pair it with heavier desserts, such as ice-creams, rich chocolate desserts and cheese.
The Wine Aging classification, shown above, describes for how long the wines need to be aged before labelling and introduced into the market
• Reserve (5 years) – This is the minimum amount of ageing a wine labelled with one of the noble varieties is permitted to have.
• Special Reserve (10 years) – Wines are often aged naturally without any artificial heat source.
• Extra Reserve (over 15 years) – A style that’s rare to produce, with many producers extending the ageing to 20 years for a vintage or producing a colheita. It is richer in style than a Special Reserve Madeira.
• Colheita or Harvest – This style includes wines from a single vintage but aged for a shorter period than true Frasqueira Madeira. The wine can be labelled with a vintage date but includes the word Colheita on it. – This style must be aged at least 20 years.
• Vintage or Frasqueira – This style must be aged at least 19 years in cask and one year in bottle, therefore cannot be sold until it is at least 20 years of age.
• Finest has been aged for at least three years. This style is usually reserved for cooking.
• Rainwater a style of Madeira that’s mild and tends to be made with Tinta Negra Mole.
So, what makes Madeira wine truly singular? When wines needed to survive an entire sea journey (often years long) fortification was essential. The intense heat of the ships on the long journeys created a desirable effect on the wine, smoothing its flavours and developing a richer texture. The increased popularity of the style demanded higher prices, and producers sought a cheaper method to age their wines and emulate the long journeys (described as ‘vinho de Roda’), so they created the “estufa” and the “canteiro” methods.
The first consists of exposing the wines to intense heat by storing them in trestles at the winery or in special rooms known as “estufas”, where the sun and the heat would age the wine. Nowadays, this method consists of putting the wine in a large container (usually stainless-steel vats lined with pipes), which circulate hot water(50°c) around the container. It’s then kept at this temperature for 3 months before bottling. This process imprints burnt caramel flavours and are used for cheaper Madeira. The “canteiro” method consists of storing the young fortified wine in wooden casks (traditionally made of Brazilian Sandalwood), filled three-quarters full to allow the wine to oxidise, and stored on rooftops or attics where they’re exposed to heat through tile roofs. The wine is aged from anything between 5 years to a century, developing the flavours in a rather delicate, slow way, resulting in subtle caramel flavours and more fresh fruit and nuts.
The island has a lot more to offer than just wine – its singular ecosystem, dramatic scenery and exquisite cuisine make it a great travel destination.
Vinnie Ordobas is a WSET Level 3 qualified Sommelier at Wilde Restaurant, at The Westbury Hotel. A multi-lingual wine writer, coffee fanatic and spirits enthusiast, Vinnie spends most of his free time around book shelves, baking brownies and analysing football.
Loves to travel and to learn new languages and keen on challenging his palate by trying eccentric cuisines and singular wines. Aspires to be World’s Best Jenga player.
Best Under $20: 2019 Avalon Chardonnay
It’s always welcome when there’s a wine that can impress you and your friends and doesn’t weigh heavily on your checking account. Behold, the 2019 Avalon Chardonnay, a product of the western edge of Sonoma County where the Pacific Ocean breezes give shape to every grape. The magic in this bottle’s simplicity is not to be overlooked.
Spicy vanilla over notes of apple, orange, pear and citrus give way to a smooth texture and mild acidity. This is a perfect wine for a last-minute dinner engagement or a layover flight.
The cuisine of the Veneto is characterised partly by the carbohydrates eaten all over the region. Unlike many parts of Italy, pasta is not the staple – that role is played by the double act of polenta and rice.
Polenta is an ancient dish dating back to Roman times made by boiling up various ground meals to form a kind or porridge, or when cooled, bread. Since the introduction of American products to Europe, it has been made predominantly with cornmeal. Most modern polenta is yellow, but there is also a white version made from biancoperla maize. In the Veneto, you will see polenta served as a side dish for meat and game in its liquid form, or in its hard form, sliced and toasted.
Risotto is a very common primo in the Veneto with much of the rice being imported from nearby Lombardy and Piedmont. However, there is also a substantial rice growing area in the province of Verona where paddy fields are irrigated by the river Tartaro. The rice here is IGP-protected and known as Vialone Nano Veronese.
The Venetian pasta is bigoli, and is like thick spaghetti made with buckwheat or whole wheat and usually eggs (although as with many things in Italy, there are lots of variations).
The large Venetian lagoon and Adriatic coastline to the east of the Veneto provides many fish for the dishes of the region (not forgetting that the western edge of the Veneto is dominated by Lake Garda). Mussels, clams, crabs, anchovies and sprats are in abundance and often on the menu. Bream and sea bass are found in the area and are often served as secondi (main courses). The black goby, a resident of the lagoon, often swims its way into risotto di gò.
The Veneto is a wine producing area with several famous Italian varieties – both red and white – coming from the region. A lot of grape production focuses on local varieties, but more international varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are also grown.
Let’s now take a tour of the region, starting in the Dolomites and finishing in the city of Venice, and look at some of the most famous provincial products and dishes.
Barleywine Is an Oft-Forgotten Ageworthy Beer
A second mug of barleywine always seems like a good idea at the time, but the next morning tells a different story. The strong, dark ale is a historical style that remains popular with a small section of brewers and drinkers, but has largely fallen by the wayside in the mainstream beer drinking community.
This is a shame because there is real depth and beauty in this malt-forward style that’s built to age and evolve over time. The colors range from deep copper, to tawny brown and garnet. There are even some nearly black pours.
While fun to look at, the real marvel is the oxidized flavor, which at times resembles wet cardboard and is acceptable in this style, especially in aged versions. Candied flavors like rich caramel, butterscotch and fudgy chocolate appear in some versions, while tones of aged leather and wet pipe tobacco arise in others. Sherry-like aromas and warming alcohol sensations are also hallmarks of the style.
English barleywines are typically more malt focused, while American versions can have heartier doses of hops that add earthy or fruity flavors to the brew.
Some brewers choose to release barleywines in the colder months of the year as annual offerings. One of the largest and best known is Bigfoot from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. In recent years, the California-based brewery has been offering vertical packs of the beer, letting drinkers taste three previous years against the current batch. Thomas Hardy, a United Kingdom-based brewer also releases an annual barleywine ale, a tradition that stretches back more than 50 years.
Because of its high alcohol content and ability to age gracefully, a lot of brewers will design barleywines to condition in spirit or wine barrels, adding exciting flavors to the mix. To add to the specialness, quite a few brewers choose to dip the bottles in wax, adding to the presentation.
Lakefront 2019 Black Friday Barleywine $20/22oz, 97 points. The strength of this barleywine is that it stands tall on its own and the barrels only play a small role in the overall flavor. The wood is important, mind you, and offers up the vanilla and spice components that one expects from Bourbon barrels, but the base beer offers tones of caramel, butterscotch and light minerality. An annual release from the brewery available on the day after Thanksgiving, this will age well over the next five years or can be consumed immediately.
Cigar City Leon $35, 96 points. This barleywine has a vinous background, thanks in part to the brandy barrels this was aged in. A special release from the brewery, it is dark brown in color, with no discernable head and a big, boozy kick on the finish that swirls with notes of smooth leather, pipe tobacco and decadent caramel. It goes down easier than the posted alcohol might suggest and a full bottle empties quickly.
Springdale 2019 Grain Reaper $12/500ml, 95 points. The color of rich caramel, this barleywine starts off with a big, fluffy off-white head that dissipates quickly. It shows some age from both the mature base beer as well as the wood it spent time in. Vanilla, oak and a wonderful spiciness mix with red berry, leather and a whiff of wet tobacco.
Port Brewing Don’t Drink Barleywine $8/19.2oz, 94 points. A collaboration with the group Don’t Drink Beer, which promotes the “Barleywine is Life” mantra, this is a straightforward example of the style without the bells and whistles of barrel aging or adjuncts. It should age nicely, but enjoyed young it has an earthy hop bitterness accented by raisin, dried tobacco and pine tar.
Thomas Hardy 50th Anniversary Golden Edition $11/11.5oz, 93 points. Packaged in 2018 but still available on store shelves, this golden anniversary offering of a revered barleywine is heavy on the Sherry notes, with hints of aged leather, butterscotch and red berries. It’s a warming ale that’s low carbonation and streamlined in mouthfeel. As it sits it releases a whiff of tobacco. Beloved for a reason, it is never too early to start a collection of this annual release and enjoy it over the years.
Weathered Souls Barrel Aged #BIL $26/500ml, 93 points. The color of golden honey and topped with a frothy off-white head, this barleywine relies heavily on the Bourbon barrels it was aged in. Big on soft vanilla, toffee and a sharp oak kick, the base beer is somewhat thin, making it easy drinking. It shows some pleasing oxidation alongside flavors of caramel and bready malt.
Sun King Johan Barleywine $20/ 16oz 2 pack, 92 points. Bursting with aromas of butterscotch and caramel, this dark mahogany colored ale is sprightly in both its carbonation and flavor. Where some barleywines might be stodgy, this has life and lift to it, starting with a slightly fudgy note all the way to a mild vanilla finish.
Burlington Beer Co. Mahogany & Tweed $32/ 16oz 4 pack, 88 points. Thanks to a viscous mouthfeel, there is no mistaking the maple in here. Reminiscent of pancake breakfast syrup from a diner, this is a sticky, rustic ale, with a faint metallic note on the finish. It was aged in Cognac barrels.
Is Chenin Blanc the Great Forgotten Grape?
It's probably grounds for a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, but I'm beginning to feel that I'm being stalked by Chenin Blanc. No voices, yet, but that’s potentially on the way.
You see, first I was in New Zealand, in February. The locals wanted me to pay attention to their Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay (which I did), but then, in the North Island, I visited Millton Vineyards and Winery in Gisborne.
James and Annie Millton started their winery in 1984 and were early adopters of—and are utterly true believers in—the philosophy and practices of biodynamics. I've met a lot of such biodynamic types, but rarely any that are quite so fervent. Never mind what you or I think, “what matters is the result” has long been my view on the matter.
Anyway, I'm tasting a variety of very tasty wines (they make wine from at least eight different varieties) and out comes their single-vineyard Clos de Ste. Anne Chenin Blanc. It was stunning in its density, purity, graceful and effortless power and sheer characterfulness. I don't think that it actually said, "Pay attention to me," but I wouldn't care to swear that I didn't hear that either.
So I was duly impressed, but didn't think too much more about Chenin Blanc. Then came a trip to South Africa, from which I've only just returned. That's when I began feeling stalked, Your Honor.
In South Africa you expect to be stalked by wild animals, but not by Chenin Blanc. Yet that's what happened. Yes, I saw plenty of wild animals in Kruger National Park, including a cheetah and wild dogs, both of which are very rare. But Chenin Blanc is not rare in South Africa. Quite the opposite. Chenin Blanc accounts for 18 percent of the wine grapes grown in South Africa. If South Africa has a specialty, it's surely Chenin Blanc.
Precisely because there's so much of it, a lot of South Africa's Chenin Blanc—too much, really—has been mediocre. Chenin Blanc willingly offers high yields. The local wine drinkers didn't have much money. And they were isolated by their politics until the mid-1990s.
But that history had a wine benefit: There's a lot of old-vine Chenin Blanc. Since prices were derisory it didn't pay to uproot all those old Chenin Blanc vines. Today, with a much improved economy and a fierce fine-wine ambition, what's emerging is Chenin Blanc of a quality and character that's nothing short of astonishing.
In winery after winery, I came across dry Chenin Blancs that reminded me again and again of just how great this grape variety can be. Producers such as Jordan (sold in the U.S. under the name Jardin), DeMorgenzon, Ken Forrester, Eben Sadie and Mullineux, among many others, are issuing Chenin Blancs of dazzling quality. Some producers, such as Sadie, combine other white grapes with their Chenin Blanc to create proprietary blends. Others are devoted to a pure varietal expression.
The bottom line is this: Chenin Blanc is the 21st-century's great forgotten grape. Riesling—which is forever being cited as due for a comeback in fame and glory—has hardly been forgotten, whatever its diminishment in popular esteem might be today compared with, say, 50 years ago.
Sauvignon Blanc certainly isn't suffering. And the likes of Viognier and Grüner Veltliner have enjoyed amazing success given their former obscurity (and in the case of Viognier, near-extinction).
So why has Chenin Blanc been so … overlooked? You may have a better theory, but I would submit that its very versatility has been its undoing. As wine lovers well know, the motherhouse of Chenin Blanc is France's Loire Valley, where Chenin Blanc rules absolutely in such districts as Savennières (mostly dry) Coteaux du Layon (mostly sweet) Quarts de Chaume and Bonnezeaux (fabulous sweet wines) Vouvray (both dry and sweet) and Jasnières (typically dry). It also appears as a sparkling wine, usually labeled as Crémant de Loire.
Chenin Blanc quality in the Loire ranges from world benchmark to banal. The region’s best Chenin Blancs, both dry and sweet, can age for decades I've had 50-year-old Loire Chenin Blancs the freshness of which is nothing short of astounding.
Really, given France's long pedigree with this grape, you'd think that Chenin Blanc would have hit the charts and stayed there forever. But too many Vouvrays, for example, were (and still are) of such poor, overcropped, industrial quality as to very nearly capsize Vouvray's once lustrous reputation as one of the world's greatest white wines.
Elsewhere, in California for example, Chenin Blanc was seen as nothing more than a bland blending grape, despite the valiant efforts of high-quality Chenin Blancs from Chappellet, Chalone and Casa Nuestra.
You get the picture. Chenin Blanc can be great and yet is largely forgotten by the world's fine-wine lovers. Who cellars it? Do you? Is its time finally arriving? Good question. It may take South Africa, which no one previously could have imagined upstaging the likes of France, to remind us all of what we've been missing.
Galet, the expert on grape varieties, says it should be up to people to decide for themselves what grapes to grow. "I like dark chocolate and there are people who like milk chocolate," he said.
"I am for liberty," added Galet, who once served as an adviser to the French government on the complex grape classification system. He said the presence of the American grapes in Eastern Europe meant that Brussels would be forced to reconsider the ban.
American grape varieties have had a tempestuous history in Europe, starting in the early 19th century, when they were brought over as curiosities. A variety known as Isabella was displayed in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris in 1817, according to George Gale, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and an expert on the American varieties.
People took cuttings of the exotic and sturdy vine and planted them in their gardens winemakers ordered more from Long Island nurseries.
But the American varieties brought with them diseases — chief among them Phylloxera, black rot and powdery mildew — that eventually ravaged the Continent's wine industry.
Ironically, the European vines were ultimately spared by the American ones: Well-known European varieties like Cabernet, Merlot and Pinot Noir were grafted onto the resistant American rootstock.
Scuppernong Grapes Are the Stuff of Southern Legend
Scupper-what? Repeat after me: "Scup-per-nong." Don&apost forget that final "n"—the word rhymes with "song," not "frog." Southerners will know scuppernong grapes by their greenish golden skin, sweet fragrance, and late-summer appearance. They&aposre native to the southeastern U.S., so enjoying a plump scuppernong plucked off a vine warmed by the summer sun is a quintessentially Southern experience. Botanically speaking, they&aposre a variety of muscadine grape that goes by the scientific name Vitis rotundifolia ‘Scuppernong.&apos
Scuppernongs are big, juicy grapes that are greenish, burnished bronze, or green-gold in color. More often than not, golden-hued muscadines are called scuppernongs, even if they&aposre not necessarily of the actual variety. A while back, Southern Living spoke to Dr. Arlie Powell, a fruit scientist, who explained the difference between muscadines and scuppernongs this way, "All scuppernongs are muscadines, but not all muscadines are scuppernongs. A ‘Scuppernong&apos is actually a specific selection of muscadine."
Scuppernongs are the state fruit of North Carolina, and they&aposre named after North Carolina&aposs Scuppernong River, which is located just off Albermarle Sound. That&aposs where the grapes were originally found growing wild, then identified and cultivated during the 17th century. Even earlier, the Scuppernong got its name from the Algonquin word "ascopa," which refers to the sweet bay tree that grows in the area.
These grapes are related to one of the most famous plants in the world, a neighboring muscadine vine found on Roanoke Island, North Carolina. It&aposs called the "Mother Vine," and it&aposs the plant from which the first bronze muscadines grew. This muscadine vine is hundreds of years old and thought to be the oldest cultivated grape vine in the country.
Even more famous than the Mother Vine, to Southerners at least, is scuppernong wine. It&aposs a delicacy made from the harvest of the grapes. They ripen in late summer and are harvested in August and September. In the kitchen, scuppernongs can also be used to make jams, jellies, and preserves. Ask anyone: They&aposre something like minor celebrities down South. The grapes are even mentioned a few times in Harper Lee&aposs 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
Thinking about planting scuppernong vines this year? Muscadines thrive in mild climates. They&aposre found growing from Delaware to Florida and from the Atlantic coast to Texas, places where the temperature doesn&apost drop too far below ten degrees Fahrenheit in winter. According to The Southern Living Garden Book, the grapes are "adapted to heat and humidity and thrive in the Coastal, Lower, and Middle South, as well as protected areas of the Upper South. Muscadines grow in a variety of soil types and pH ranges if they&aposre given good drainage. Full sun is a must: Four hours is the minimum six or more is preferred." The best time to plant the vines is in late fall and winter.
Learn more about different varieties of muscadines, and consider making your own scuppernong jelly during this year&aposs harvest.
WATCH: The Grumpy Gardener&aposs Guide to Muscadines
Are you well-acquainted with muscadines and scuppernongs? Have you ever enjoyed a ripe scuppernong just off the vine?
On Vancouver Island, grape winemaking really began after a provincial government-funded trial – the Duncan Project – identified Pinot Gris, Auxerrois and Ortega as promising varieties for this unique seaside environment.
Vancouver Island is home to a dedicated community of family grapegrowers and winemakers. A tour through the natural beauty of lush green valleys, dense forested mountains, and ocean landscapes provides the opportunity to meet friendly, passionate people crafting products they are proud of and that you will delight in. “The Island” also offers some exceptional food festivals and culinary experiences to pair with your winery visits.
FACT: Wineries in the Cowichan Valley are generally shielded from Pacific Ocean storms by nearby mountains and have a long growing season with low frost risk.
FACT: Winemaking on Vancouver Island began in the early 1920’s with wines produced from loganberries by the Growers’ Wine Company.
FACT: Vineyards on Vancouver Island are centred on the Cowichan Valley. There are also producers close to Nanaimo, the Saanich Peninsula and Victoria.