After hanging out with geoducks and oyster seeds, it was time to toast the shellfish industry in the Comox Valley. How better to do that than with wine and seafood?
We stopped by Blue Moon Winery, a blueberry farm, cidery, and winery founded by Marla Limousin & George Ehrler. George grew up in Switzerland, where making wine at home is a common practice. He grew up in the wine-making tradition and is also an engineer, so the combination of culture and an understanding of science has meant he’s been very successful.
Marla and George have a total of six acres, three of which are blueberries. They sell the berries both whole and in wine form, the latter of which was much dryer than I expected. Their ciders are made with organic apples from Cawston and Denman Island, and are in the Normandy-style, meaning they’re dry, and have a high alcohol content. They have a lovely tasting room, which also doubles as a gallery space for a rotating line up of artists.
My favourite pours were the ‘Sirius,’ a still apple cider, and the ‘Draco,’ a rich, blueberry port.
They also have Rosie, a gentle giant who made sure I knew she was boss, and later warmed right up to me.
From there, we went to the beautiful grounds of 40 Knots Winery, which was originally owned by a tug boat captain.
The new owners, Layne Craig and Brenda Hetman-Craig, have maintained the captain’s nautical influence, while adding their own twist: an aviation theme as a nod to Layne’s years as a pilot.
They bottle their wines under two labels. The ‘Spindrift’ line features wines made from grapes grown on their land. A swallow adorns the label, which is a sign of homecoming for sailors. The ‘Stallspeed’ wines are made with grapes imported from the Okanagan, and these labels show an illustration of the air speed indicator from Layne’s plane.
I tasted many wonderful wines from 40 Knots, and didn’t have to wait too long before trying more. That evening I attended a festival dinner hosted by Prime Chophouse and Wine Bar, at which we dined on four seafood courses, each paired with a 40 Knots wine.
We started with 40 Knots’ Spindrift Brut and Hollie Wood oysters, which were served with three different mignonettes: apple, 40 Knot Chardonnay, and red wine with shallot.
Next, we had crab cakes with lemon pesto aioli and a ponzu-dressed arugula salad, served with a 2012 Chardonnay.
Our third course was pan-seared halibut in a coconut citrus broth with bok choy, potatoes, and crushed pistachios. It was paired with the 2012 Pinot Gris, and was my favourite dish of the evening. Look how cute those nugget potatoes are!
We finished the meal with crispy salmon, tempura portobellos, and sticky rice with my favourite 40 Knots wine: the 2012 Rose.
Between factory tours, wine tastings, and several courses of seafood, I slept hard that night, completely satisfied with my adventures. Less than 24 hours after I landed, I was back on a plane to Vancouver, amazed at how much can be done in one day!
Thanks to the Comox Valley Economic Development Society for setting up a great Vancouver Island day for me.
Up next: we’re heading back to Germany, then Sri Lanka!