Harvest in a glass — wine and beer

Visitors having fun at the Harvest Grape Stomp at Salt Spring Vineyards
Visitors having fun at the Harvest Grape Stomp at Salt Spring Vineyards

The growing of grapes and the creation of fine wines and beer is a relatively new agri-industry on the Gulf Islands. But it’s one that has put the spotlight on the region as a great place to visit for that reason alone.

Here’s the lowdown on the islands’ wineries and brewery.

Salt Spring Island Ales — Award-winning, creative ales made with organic and local ingredients. The company works with island farmers to source and grow seasonal ingredients, including its own supply of island hops. Visit the cottage brewery in the Fulford valley and sample delicious un- filtered and unpasteurized brews in the tasting loft. The brewery also features a small beer store.

Salt Spring Vineyards, located in the beautiful Burgoyne Valley, is just minutes away from the Fulford Harbour ferry by bus or car. Joanne and Dev McIntyre produce award- winning hand-crafted VQA wines totally from island fruit, and their blackberry port is now legendary. Visitors experience warm Salt Spring hospitality, complimentary wine tastings paired with local foods, often with live music. Licensed picnic grounds provide a lovely pond setting to enjoy. Watch for special annual events such as the vineyards’ Solstice Celebration in June and the Harvest Grape Stomp in October.

Other Gulf Islands vineyards with a number of award-winning products and tasting opportunities are:

Garry Oaks Winery — Located on a 100-acre farm at 1880 Fulford-Ganges Road near Salt Spring Vineyards on Salt Spring Island.

Mistaken Identity Vineyards — At the corner of Norton and Lower Ganges roads, just a short distance from the town of Ganges on Salt Spring Island.

Sea Star Vineyards has quickly earned a stellar reputation with its first vintages offered in 2013. Located at 6621 Harbour Hill Drive on Pender Island.

Also new for 2015 is Salt Spring Wild, a cider house with tasting room located on Sharp Road on Salt Spring Island.

Photo/media credit: Derrick Lundy