A Tour of Vancouver's Wine Country

By George Froehlich   Trail Canada

Magnificent country estates nestled among rolling hills, fresh farm produce, Llamas, sheep, purebred horses and cattle and of course wine, glorious wine. These are some of the treats that await you and it only takes 35 minutes to get you started. This isn’t Napa Valley or the Okanagan but the Ladner, Richmond, South Langley and Fraser Valley areas of British Columbia, a stone throw from downtown Vancouver.

British Columbia has four key areas where grapes are gown. The Fraser Valley (the areas just outside of Vancouver), the Okanagan, Vancouver Island (this includes the Gulf Islands) and the Similkameen Valley in the interior of B.C. Grapes are harvested in September - October for regular wines and ice wines in November - December.

A lot of the Greater Vancouver wineries have come first in international competitions. Their wines are reasonably priced, they have great tasting rooms, and you can buy right on the premises – often the only place you can purchase from. Along with your wine you can buy artisan food products such as fine cheese, wine jellies and jams and other condiments.

A handful of wineries now offer you the enjoyment of fine dining whether it is lunch or dinner or a good cheese with your fine wine. The best part about it all – these are wineries that have been started by ordinary people with big visions. These wineries are not owned by big international conglomerates. These wineries are run and owned by hard-working entrepreneurs with a single vision and passion – to produce the best possible wines. Plan to spend the day and enjoy the variety of wineries that will serve you a taste of the grape.

But enough of the delights that await you. Let’s get started on where to visit and how to get there.

First on the list is Sanduz Estate Winery, located in Richmond, B.C. in the heart of the richest agricultural lands. On offer are different fruit and grape wines. Richmond has an ideal climate for growing wonderful fruit and berries needed for great fruit and dessert wines. In the summer it is hot and dry and in the winter it is cool.
12791 Blundell Road, Richmond
Phone: (604) 214-0444

From there we wind our way to Westham Island, in Delta, adjacent to Richmond. This neck of the woods is renowned for its rich and pastoral farmlands. As you make your way to the winery there are lots of roadside stands operated by the farmers that grow fruit, vegetables, and flowers. For the more adventuresome you can pick your own berries from the winery’s own fruit and berry orchard.
2170 Westham Island Road, Delta
Phone: (604) 940-9755

The next stop is the old Grainery Store at the Wellbrook Winery also in Delta. Here you will be transported back 100 years when you enter the property. The wine tasting shop – a former barn - has been lovingly restored to its original condition. Inside you can taste great wines and buy some really cool condiments. The winery also holds cooking classes with some of the best-known chefs from the Vancouver area. But be sure to check their website for details.
4626 88th Street, Delta
Phone: (604) 946-1868

Once you leave Wellbrook it is a 30 minute drive to pastoral South Langley. Highways en-route to the wineries have signs pointing you in the right direction. These are stylized purple grape signs saying “Wine Country”. They will point you in the right direction and give you the distance to the winery.

The first winery to visit in Langley is Township 7 Vineyards. It is considered a premiere boutique winery and it also has a larger operation in the Okanagan. Its tasting room is a small bright yellow building with white trim and is nestled among the picturesque countryside. Township 7 wines come in small lots and more than often are sold out early due to the demand for his high-quality product.
21152 - 16th Avenue, Langley
Phone: (604) 532-1766

Next on your stop is Domaine de Chaberton, a gorgeous winery with a fine dining establishment that is open for lunch and dinner and a terrific wine tasting room with a fantastic selection of fine foods Owned and operated by Claude and Inge Violet, who moved to Canada in 1981, they realized their dream of selling wines from a European winery. Today this winery continues its tradition of producing award winning red and white wines.

A word of advice: lunch is served daily, but the Bacchus Bistro is only open for dinner on Friday and Saturdays and reservations are a must in this fine dining establishment.
Claude is to this day the wine maker and his family began making wine in the village of Corsavy, near the Spanish border in 1644. He is the family’s ninth generation wine maker.
1064 - 216th Street, Langley
Phone: 1-888-332-9463
Bacchus Bistro phone: (604) 530-9694

A short hop away is the Glenugie Winery, an award winning, family-owned and operates estate winery that has a small tasting room. Glenugie is owned by Gary and Christina Tayler and their family – the whole clan’s picture is featured on the home page of their website. The Tayler’s established their vineyard in 1997 and five years they opened the winery. The winery is steeped in history with the name Glenugie coming from family farm owned by the grandmother of Christina Tayler in Longside, Scotland. The featured wine is a Pinot Noir made from organically grown grapes. They even have a picnic area on their property that you are welcome to use.
3033 232nd Street, Langley
Phone: (604) 539-9463

Leaving Glenugie Winery for Abbotsford takes you to Lotusland which was started by David and Liz Avery a couple of self-described dreamers with the big dream to run their own winery. Lotusland opened in 2000 with their first vintage ready to go so they could begin to enjoy the fruits of their labor and let others share in their vision.

Nestled in the pastoral Fraser Valley surrounded by snow topped mountains and just 27 kilometers from the Pacific Ocean, Lotusland's three and one half hectare vineyard offers not only spectacular views, but also the perfect coastal climate for growing some of the world's finest wine grapes.

To this day the husband wife team is actively involved in the production from planting to bottling of Lotusland Wines. In part their labour of love is assisted by a unique program. It is: The World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) program. It provides international travel and organic farming experience to men and women from around the globe. The goals of the WWOOF program include teaching organic growing techniques as well as providing city dwellers the opportunity to experience rural life. When you are born and raised in Tokyo (like me), the Lotusland vineyard can change your world view, evoking the comment from one such visitor that she couldn't believe how "big the sky was" here.

Lotusland hosts up to five people from the program at a time and so far Lotusland has had more than 40 people from Japan, Switzerland, and Germany, participate in it.
River’s Bend Winery is a recent addition to the growing sector of farm-based wineries in BC. It is owned by Court and Annette Faessler. It has fifteen acres of vineyard and pleasant surroundings.
28450 King Road, Abbotsford
Phone: (604) 857.4188

The last winery on our tour is the St. Urban Winery in Chilliwack. The owners are also the winemakers and they grew up among the vineyards of Slovakia. Their wines are made in the traditional European style.
47189 Bailey Road, Chilliwack
Phone: (604) 824-6233

I’d also recommend Blue Heron Fruit Winery which located about 30 kilometres east of Vancouver in picturesque Pitt Meadows. They sell a fine number of table wines and dessert wines with their specialty being cranberry wine.
18539 Dewdney Trunk Road, Pitt Meadows
Phone: (604) 465-5563

Most wineries offer tours but be sure to always phone ahead to see when these tours take place or if advanced notice is needed to be given.

When you sit back and reflect upon your day excursion into the wine area outside of Vancouver you can reflect upon that – over a glass of wine of course.

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