British Columbians shopping for a bottle of B.C. wine will see a new area recognized for their grape-growing and winemaking on the label – the Cowichan Valley.
The Cowichan Valley is being recognized as a new sub-geographical indication (sub-GI), an official and protected term under B.C. law used to help consumers identify B.C. wines’ origins. The Cowichan Valley sub-GI is roughly defined as the area between the Cowichan watershed, the eastern coastline from Mill Bay to Maple Bay and the western area of Cowichan Lake.
“The Cowichan is home to family-owned and operated wineries and grape growers who have been part of the valley for generations,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. “They take pride in the wines they produce and recognizing their hard work, skills and growing reputation on the B.C. and international stage is overdue. They make great wine in the Cowichan from the grapes grown in the valley, and the designation both respects and promotes that.”
Defining geographic zones on wine labels connects consumers with the unique geographic area the grapes are grown and the wine is made in and increases exposure to the region for both wine and tourism businesses.
“Officially recognizing the Cowichan Valley as a distinct and unique wine grape-growing region in B.C. is a testament to the hard work, passion and dedication of the many local entrepreneurs and staff in the wine industry,” said Sonia Furstenau, MLA for Cowichan Valley. “This is a well-deserved accomplishment for all those involved in producing exceptional wines and memorable winery experiences.”
Wines labelled with geographical indications and/or sub-GIs commit to consumers that the wine was produced with a minimum of 95% of grapes grown from the specified region.
There are nine official geographical indications in the province and five sub-geographical indications. The Cowichan Valley is the first sub-GI outside of the Okanagan and joins the Golden Mile Bench, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Falls and Skaha Bench in the Okanagan Valley.
Paul Brunner, owner, Blue Grouse Estate Winery –
“The newly announced Cowichan Valley sub-GI recognizes our unique terroir and solidifies Vancouver Island’s position as an up-and-coming wine destination. Bailey Williamson, Blue Grouse’s winemaker, led the initiative, but it would not have been possible without the enthusiastic co-operation of every winery and grape grower in the valley. We are proud to be part of such a cohesive group of wine lovers and look forward to being part of an exciting future.”
Jill Nessel, executive director, Tourism Cowichan –
“This is an exciting opportunity for the Cowichan Valley to again be recognized as a top-quality wine-producing region. Wine enthusiasts can now add Cowichan as an area to explore wines produced with this unique terroir. While the award-winning wines and beautiful vineyards draw thousands of visitors to Cowichan every year, it is the extraordinary people behind the wines that create memorable wine-tasting and tour experiences for locals and visitors from across the globe.”
Miles Prodan, president, BC Wine Institute –
“Having Cowichan Valley officially recognized as a distinct and unique wine grape growing region in B.C. is testament to the maturity of the wine growers and producers in the region. To put it simply, when you now see Vancouver Island, Cowichan Valley, BC VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) on a bottle, it is your guarantee that you’re sipping a wine that is 100% grown and made in this particular terroir of British Columbia.”
A map of the Cowichan Valley sub-GI is available at: http://www.bcvqa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Cowichan_Valley_GIrev_2020.pdf
For information about all the geographic and sub-geographic indications in B.C., visit: http://www.bcvqa.ca/wine-regions-of-bc/
For more information about Cowichan wines and visiting the valley, visit: https://www.tourismcowichan.com/eat-drink/wineries/
Blue Grouse Estate Winery and Vineyard: https://www.bluegrouse.ca
A backgrounder follows.