With atypical weather for a Saturday in July, I set out on what should be a typical midsummer event. In a steady rain I headed around the corner from home for a delicious Cornerstone Café Americano made by my wonderful roommate. This gave me the drive to continue on to the galloping goose where I picked up a new riding companion for the journey along Lochside trail to Saanichton. Our destination was a decadent brunch to kick off an afternoon of spirit tasting. Our hostess treated us to a delicious meal consisting of fluffy pancakes, omelettes, smoothies, orange juice, coffee, tea, fresh berries and fruit salad. Luckily, by the end of brunch the rain had let up and it was time to get moving.
Shortly after noon we set out by bicycle to our first stop, Sea Cider. With a lovely view of the water and
we sampled all the ciders on offer and a plate of local appetizers made up of bread, cheeses, meats, pickles and a chocolate truffle. There are nine ciders to choose from and all are delicious; anyone should be able to find one to suit their palate. My favourite was the James Island dessert cider, an apt after dinner substitute for port or sherry. Pomona
All ready into mid afternoon we had to move on to our next venue, Victoria Spirits. We were lucky enough to arrive in time for the beginning of a short tour by Peter, the master distiller. Though previously a winery, Victoria Spirits has gone full time into the distillery business and while best know for their Victoria Gin, they make several spirits. Our tour was followed by a tasting of these offerings which included hemp vodka, two distilled wines (Eau de vies), Victoria Gin, Oak aged Victoria Gin and a bitter. There is also a whisky in the works. Interestingly, the whole family is involved in the business in some way whether it is using the products in cuisine at Paprika restaurant in
or growing various ingredients for the spirits themselves. For me this was a highlight of the tour, but with time running short we had to move on. Victoria
Next door to Victoria Spirits sits Dragonfly Hill Vineyard where we were treated to a tasting of three wines (two white, one red) and a fruit dessert wine by the owners. They use some unique grapes here and make some very individual wines. The Ortega Auxerrois was my favourite and is made from 100% estate grown grapes.
By the end of the day my pannier was full with a bottle from each stop.
Vancouver Island offers an impressive array of alcoholic delights and learning more about them by visiting and tasting is best accomplished by bicycle. Be sure to drink lots of water though as this could be a dehydrating experience. This was a perfect way to meet new friends or bond with old ones. Our pace was slow and easy as there were all types of bicycles and cyclists in our group. It also required minimal planning as one can simply drop in during the various businesses’ open house hours.
The tour concluded, some of us continued back to town by bicycle, while others went back to the brunch location to return by car. The best part is that this is only a tiny sample of Saanich and
Vancouver Island has to offer in the way of fine alcohol so we can do these tours again and again discovering new offerings each time.