Located on Vancouver Island, the district of Cowichan is fast becoming a foodie’s paradise. Nestled in between Victoria and Nanaimo, Cowichan consists of 11 communities – Maple & Genoa Bay, Mill Bay, Crofton, Cobble Hill, Malahat, Shawnigan Lake, Cowichan Bay, Lake Cowichan, Duncan, Ladysmith and Chemainus. On this road trip, I explored five of them.
Cowichan is home to many growing wineries, cideries, farmlands, artisanal producers, farm-to-table restaurants and Canada’s only tea farm (more about that below). Here is my guide to dining in Cowichan.
Genoa Bay Cafe is located on the quiet and picturesque Genoa Bay. The bay is located on the northside of Cowichan Bay. This cafe features fresh locally caught seafood and meat/ poultry from local farms. Genoa Bay Cafe is known for their calamari, fish and chips, and seafood chowder.
Fairly new to Cowichan’s food scene is The Ainslie – a family-owned and operated business. Co-owner Chef Ian Blom focuses on locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients for his ever-changing menu. I enjoyed a chef’s tasting menu at this stop.
The “Winemaker’s Brunch” menu at Blue Grouse Winery is prepared by Farm’s Gate Food & Catering. We enjoyed a delectable three-course brunch with wine pairings in the beautiful tasting room overlooking the stunning vineyards.
Nestled in the hills of Cowichan Valley, Westholme Tea Farm offers over 100 types of organic teas, sweet and savoury snacks, hand-crafted ceramics and a tea tasting room. Westholme is Canada’s only tea farm. This relaxing experience is a must.
True Grain bread is located in the popular tourist area of Cowichan Bay. This bakery focuses on using organic and wholesome BC grains. A stone-milled method is used to grind the grain into flour, with no other preservatives or conditioners. Everything I sampled was simple and delicious.
An award-winning family-owned and operated winery, Unsworth Vineyards focuses on small productions. I sampled the Rose Charme De L’lle which can only be found at Unsworth Vineyards in Mill Bay.
Located in a heritage building in downtown Duncan, BC, the award-winning restaurant Hudson’s on First, serves local and in-season ingredients. The chef creates an approachable fine dining experience. This is Cowichan’s hidden secret.
Merridale was one of the first cideries in BC and is very popular amongst the locals. It is comprised of a farm, cidery, distillery, bistro and bakery. All of their ciders and spirits are made from 100% juice.
During my trip to Cowichan, I stayed in the Grouse House located at the Blue Grouse Winery. Set on the hills amongst the stunning vines, Grouse House is a beautiful two-bedroom modern farmhouse that sleeps four. Each bedroom offers a panoramic outdoor patio with a seating area and an endless vista of mountains, vineyards, and forest.
Thank you Tourism Cowichan for having me as a guest.