It has been ten years since we last visited the very successful Blue Grouse Vineyards just south of Duncan on Vancouver Island. We were there for the Grand Opening after the Kiltz family sold there property to
new owners Paul, Christina, and daughter Paula Brunner. The vineyards are home to some of the oldest vines in Canada. The Kiltz family had 31 acres of vines. Today the winery has 70.
Paula -Christina - Paul Brunner
The Blue Grouse Estate Winery’s philosophy evolves from the concept of “stewardship”, where our aim is to make everything we touch better when we leave it, than it was when we found it. We apply this to training our team of employees, the environment that hosts our vineyard and home, the vines we grow, the wines we make, the infrastructure which supports the winery and vineyard, and the economics of our business model - everything.
We ask ourselves daily “What Really Matters”? We care deeply about family and friends, living a long and healthy life, simplicity (doing a few things, but doing them very well), humility, honesty, and stewardship. We believe all of this together will make the Blue Grouse experience a lasting one.
My morning drive to the winery began in Victoria at the Inner Harbour, Barbara would remain behind as she was a delegate at the Soroptimist Convention. It was a pleasant journey through the Malahat.
‘The Malahat’ is the term commonly applied to the Malahat Drive, a 25 km (15.5 mi) portion of the Trans Canada Highway 1 running along the west side of Saanich Inlet and to the region surrounding it. Upon arriving in Mills Bay and the adjoining Cobble Hill you have reached wine country. Just a few more Km to Lakeshore Drive and Blue Grouse Vineyards.
New Vineyard plantings in the background.
I arrived early entering through the staff gate into the parking lot. I had twenty minutes before opening and my appointment. Time to walk around the the winery and take photos
Stock Photo taken in late summer
I was standing on the patio in front of the fireplace when tasting room manager Pamela Sanderson opened the patio door and invited me to come in out of the rain. She told me the world was my oyster. Not exactly in those words but she indicated Blue Grouse was glad I came and the place was mine to explore. That is exactly what we did touring the lower levels of the winery
Winemaker Bailey Williamson and his Amphora vessels
Amphora vessels are made entirely by hand and fired in the Manetti Gusmano & Figli facility in the Chianti Region of Italy? The abundant presence of Galestro soils in the area are natural Terracotta components and confer the right micro porosity to the amphora, enabling the wine to breathe correctly.
"Our Amphora Collection features a 100% Bacchus varietal Estate sourced and field sorted from the oldest vines. Vines are as old as 25 years old to newer vines as young as 4 to 5 years, giving us two distinct fruit sets and composition. The whole cluster bunches went straight into the amphora, where they were foot stomped by the winemaker to ensure the juice rose all the way to the top. The grapes stayed with the wine for four months until pressing. It was aged for a further four months in the Amphora."
It was now time to taste the wines. I was guided by Pamela to the loft. Where the the table was ready to pour the wines
The Loft at Blue Grouse Estate Vineyards
Let the tasting experience begin. First the white wines and then the reds
We were joined by vineyard manager - Michael Abbott. Michael is a locally grown ecologist who has been working with soil and organic farming for the last ten years. He grew up on Cowichan Valley’s Cheese Pointe Farm and was an active participant of Cowichan Bay’s slow food revolution.
The tasting was under way when owner Paul Brunner joined us.
We started with a 2021 Siegerrebe a cross between the Gewürztraminer and Madeleine Angevine varieties. Super ligharomatic, this medium-bodied sipper is sweet and spicy, with light floral flavours and hints of tropical fruits. A very good wine!
This was followed by one of my favourite wines Bacchus 2021. I had one word for this wine "perfect".
There were two more whites to taste The Ortega 2021 and the Pinot Gris. The Ortega is Vancouver Island’s signature grape and among my favourite Wines. This one was among the best. A medium body wine with dazzling fruit flavours and a lasting finish.
The Pinot Gris comes from some of the oldest vines on the Islands The wine starts with aromas of caramel butterscotch. It has a medium long finish and fresh green apple acidity.
For the reds we tasted their Quill brand. The Quill label, introduced in 2014, allows our winemaker, Bailey Williamson, to express his talents. Sourcing some of the best grapes grown in British Columbia and blending them meticulously, Bailey’s mandate is make single varietal wines or blends that are distinctive.
We began with the 2019 Pinot Noir. A very impressive wine. Black Cherry with hints of pepper and spices highlighted the wine. The Syrah followed another excellent wine.
The future looks bright for the winery asthey expland their vineyards and winery production planting new vines. Chardonnay is in the near future we call all look forward too.
"We want you to remember us because you were at a beautiful place, on a beautiful day (rain or shine), with people you love – an experience we hope to perfect with just the right wine."
I left feeling quite happy and looking forward to a return visit. I will remember this visit. Thank you Blue Grouse!
My next stop Alderlea Vineyards