Fall Into Cowichan
As summer draws to a close on Vancouver Island, Cowichan comes alive with the flavours and colours of fall. Autumn sun produces wide varieties of apples in orchards like Apple Luscious Organic Orchard on Saltspring Island. Vineyards like Averill Creek are bursting with grapes ready to convert into fresh batches of award-winning wine. All across the region, 800+ farms are brimming with the colours of fruits and vegetables, ripe for the picking.
How do you begin narrowing down a weekend destination for a fall adventure in the Cowichan countryside? From unique cranberry bogs at Yellow Point Cranberries, to a kiwi farm at Kiwi Cove Lodge, read on to know where all you can go to experience Cowichan this season.
BOOK A STAYCATION
Did you know kiwis grow on Vancouver Island? Book a staycation at the Kiwi Cove Lodge outside Ladysmith and witness the fall harvest of the arguta and actinidia deliciosa kiwi varieties. Enjoy a breakfast of kiwi ginger jam in the morning while overlooking the kiwi vineyard, then go for a hike to the nearby cove. Kiwi Cove Lodge does not allow sampling directly from the vineyard but you can go to Cedar Market for their arguta kiwis! You can find out more by calling 1-866-303-5494.
VISIT A FARMERS’ MARKET
The Duncan Farmers’ Market is also a favourite weekend pastime of residents. Running from 9am-2pm every Saturday, it is Canada’s only year-round outdoor market.
Safety is paramount in Cowichan, so the number of Duncan Farmer Market vendors has been reduced from 250 to 80, with additional sanitizing stations in place. Enter on Kenneth Street, where you must line up so the crowd size can be controlled.
FIND A FARM STAND
Head in any direction from downtown Duncan and you’ll find endless farm stands nestled into nooks of the Valley, like on Mays Road. If you’re looking to plan a trip and hit them all, visit islandfarmstands.com, an online map created by the Cowichan Green Community.
SAMPLE LOCAL WINE, BEER & CIDER
Cowichan is home to 14 wineries that boast unique flavours. In fact, Cowichan wines are so unique, that the region has been recognized as a new sub-geographical region of wine. This is the first time in B.C. that a region outside of the Okanagan was given such a distinction. Wines labeled with sub-GIs commit that the wines were made with at least 95% of grapes grown in the region, a testament to the local-first commitment Cowichan wineries have had for years.
You can sample all or a few of these wineries on a self-guided tour, or with local companies like Cheers Cowichan, Island Time Tours, MyGo Tours, and Tesla Tours.
Cowichan is also home to three incredible craft breweries – Red Arrow Brewing, Small Block Brewing, and Riot Brewing - all featuring seasonal brews with unique flavours like cranberries and lemongrass. The apple orchards at Merridale Cidery and Valley Cider offer samples of local, seasonal cider. Or you can pop by a distillery like Ampersand or Stillhead for a sample of local blackberry vodka or their new rhubarb gin.
DINE OUT DOWNTOWN
Look for The Ainslie in Duncan, where chef Ian Blom constantly updates his daily menu specials based on what’s available from local farms. Each dish is made from scratch using local ingredients like cheese from nearby Haltwhistle Cheese Company. On September 13th, they will be hosting a special “Dinner In The Square” alongside The Old Firehouse Wine & Cocktail Bar.
SWIM IN A SEA OF CRANBERRIES
In mid-September, one of Cowichan’s gems opens at Yellow Point Cranberries in Ladysmith, where you can buy any number of items made with local cranberries grown right on the farm, from chutneys and marmalade to cranberry and orange cookies. Harvesting is scheduled this year for early October, and you can witness the process when the fields are covered by a sea of deep crimson.
Harvest season is a unique time in Cowichan when the best of what makes the region special is on display. Be sure to experience the fall in all its glory while supporting local agricultural producers, markets, breweries, vineyards, restaurants, B&B’s, and more.
- Kadie Smith
Marketing Project Manager
Destination Greater Victoria