Comox Valley Uncorked

Words By Bevin Clempson
Photos By Karen McKinnon

Rolling down the Comox Valley Parkway in a white stretch limousine isn’t a regular occurrence in my every day. Enjoying a glass of wine is. Somehow, I found myself blending the two one sun-filled Friday afternoon as I toured four fantastic wineries situated in the Comox Valley.

Joined by seven lovely ladies, and shuttled in style, comfort, and safety by Ambassador Transportation, the tour began in Comox at 40 Knots Vineyard and Estate Winery. This established 24 acre winery overlooking the Salish Sea is absolutely amazing. Owners Brenda Hetman-Craig and Layne Robert Craig have themselves a little slice of heaven into which they welcome guests enthusiastically.

Distracted by the beautifully structured buildings and the rows upon rows of wine-grapes, we stood outside the Tasting Lounge intoxicated by the fact that we were indeed in the Comox Valley. Greeted at the door by friendly smiling faces and the beckoning of wine, we restrained our giddiness and got down to business.

Within our time constraint of a mere twenty-five minutes, the eight of us were sampled with an array of aromatic whites and well-structured balanced reds, followed up with a rich port and a lively ice wine. Between each sip of palate pleasing wine we were given a brief history of the winery infused with nautical folklore and an immense passion for traditional farming practices and the creation of first-class wine.

With a strict itinerary we were quickly ushered onward to Beaufort Vineyard and Estate Winery in Courtenay. Located on a picturesque estate with phenomenal views of the vineyard and the Beaufort Range, the picnic area and tasting room are where it’s at.

While the bulk of Beaufort’s wines are sold online, they eagerly welcome guests to sample their world-class handcrafted wine alongside their “remarkable nose”, a 14-foot high Easter Island statue, as portrayed on their label.

Owners James Cameron and Suzy Amis Cameron purchased the Beaufort Winery in 2014. They are building on the existing foundation of award-winning wines that have been crafted on-site since 2006. It was the first estate winery in the Comox Valley, and has been awarded with 70 national and international awards for their fabulous wines.

Welcomed with humour and enthusiasm by Beaufort’s Vineyard and Winery Manager, we didn’t hesitate, heading straight for the tasting room. Despite the fact that it had yet to open its doors to the public, Mark and his lovely wife, Freya, took the time to offer us an amazing selection of wines to taste and answer any questions that we had. They even opened shop for most of us to stock up on our favourites!

With time ticking by, we reluctantly bid Beaufort’s tasting room farewell and headed for the limo to stretch out, discuss our favourite wines, and watch the farms roll by as we made our way down Highway 19A towards Black Creek.

Coastal Black Estate Winery & Meadery is family owned and operated. Established in 2009, each wine is handcrafted from their berries and honey (Big D’s Bees Honey).

The winery offers a selection of table and sparkling wine, an incredibly indulgent evening wine, and mead. The spiced mead and fruit wine sampled during our short stay was complex and flavourful, but it was the aged Black Jack 21 that had us holding our glasses out for more. The tasting room staff was incredibly genuine and knowledgeable—definitely enjoying what they do.

While we didn’t have the time, Coastal Black offers a full tour of their facilities to learn about the farm, the winery, and the wine and mead making process. It ends with a sampling of their delectable wines and is surely worth the visit to this expansive piece of productive land. Along with wine and mead, Coastal Black produces fresh market fruit, raw honey and custom milled lumber. When visiting, you can’t pass up their delectable artisan pizza made daily on-site.

Zipping back along the highway and country roads, we made our way towards our final destination. We definitely saved one of the best for last. Blue Moon Farm, Winery & Ciderworx is a friendly and eclectic place. Filled with passion and a sense of adventure, owners George and Marla began this venture with blueberry farming back in 2004.

What was once a semi-retirement plan for this charismatic couple has evolved into the production of incredible blueberries, a variety of award-winning fruit wine, sparkling apple cider and flowers galore. Not one’s to ever look back, Blue Moon will be introducing two new sparkling cider flavours to their lineup this summer.

If you haven’t had a chance to stop by this fabulous place, head over for an intimate tasting experience like no other. The owners and staff are receptive, offering high-quality products that are sure to please any taste bud. You can also check them out year-round at the Comox Valley Farmer’s Market and the Campbell River Pier Street Farmers Market.

Back in the limo, surrounded by bags of recently purchased wine, chatter immediately moved to plans for the next tasting tour. One of us even asked our wonderful driver if we could just head back to the first winery. He chuckled and told us that we could easily book his transportation services again, but he’d rather join the tour because it looked like too much fun.

Once the limo was unloaded of wine and women, I began my short walk home in the warmth of late afternoon sunshine. I couldn’t help but take a deep breath, close my eyes and savor the events of the day.

In a few short hours, eight of us had embarked on what I assumed would be a quick wine tasting tour for the writing of a magazine article. While it was indeed managed by a fairly tight work schedule, it was remarkable. All involved will return to each winery as a group or with others. Each of us walked away with an authentic Comox Valley wine experience.

With countless events happening throughout the year and tasting rooms open all through the week, we could get started tomorrow!




Category: Volume 3