Beer, Wine & Spirits - The booming booze businesses of British Columbia
For those with a car and a mind for adventure, following the numerous BC Ale Trails are a great way not only to sample some of BC’s finest brews but also to see some of BC’s finest scenery. BC has ale trails all over the province, from Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast to the Okanagan and Kootenay regions, so you’ll always find a great brewery wherever you go! Some trails can be done in a day by guided tour in busses or even bicycles, while others need several days to complete. Highlights include multi-day itineraries in the Kootenay region and easy one-day itineraries around Vancouver or Victoria. Due to the significant number of breweries in BC, finding the perfect beer and brewery of your dreams couldn’t be easier.
Photo credit: Destination BC/Hubert Kang
The original alcohol tour, wine tours can be found in fewer regions in BC than beer but are no less popular or diverse. The Okanagan has the most wineries in Canada, so it is often choice number one when looking to visit a winery. Numerous wineries can be explored by car, bicycle or on a guided tour. The Okanagan is Canada’s only desert landscape, and the Naramata Bench is the region’s best-known area for wineries. Along with the region’s numerous lakes, it is a superb summer destination for the whole family. For those of you sticking close to Vancouver, there are several beautiful wineries in the Fraser Valley, known as Vancouver’s backyard. Here you’ll find numerous award-winning wineries such as Backyard Vineyards, Glasshouse estates and Township 7 (whose 2007 chardonnay was served to the Queen of England on a state visit, among many others. Discover Canada Tours offers day tours to these and other wonderful wineries, so you can indulge in as much wine as you’d like!
The Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island is another popular destination for wine. Over a dozen wineries can be found scattered around this “Napa of the North,” and it is an easy drive from the charming city of Victoria. So, whether you make it a day trip or overnight in a charming B&B, you’ll not be disappointed with the variety and excellence of the grapes grown here.
Photo credit: Destination BC / @vancouverfoodie
For those who crave a cold cider during the summer months, Vancouver Island is an excellent destination for cideries, as well as wineries and breweries. Perhaps the two best-known cideries in BC, Sea Cider, known for the first fully certified organic cider, and Merridale, which grows classic English, French and German cider apples, are not far from the provincial capital of Victoria. Of course, where there are wineries, you’ll often find cideries, so a visit to the Okanagan region of BC won’t disappoint cider lovers. In fact, we think it is great to mix and match your days to enjoy both wines and ciders when in the Okanagan. With cideries like the Summerland Heritage Cider Company, Howling Moon Cider House and Faustino Estate Cidery, you’ll be sure to entice your senses and cleanse your palate.
Photo credit: Merridale Cidery & Distillery, taken by @localwanderer
Not quite as common in BC as wineries or breweries, lovers of hard alcohol are sure to be satisfied with the variety of options found here. Whether you are looking for an organic gin or unique potato vodka, the distilleries around the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island have you covered.
Those looking for a great day trip from Vancouver should look no further than the Pemberton Distillery, found at the end of the stunning Sea to Sky Highway. In Pemberton, they specialize in spirits made from local Pemberton potatoes. Offerings here range from organic potato vodka and apple brandy to single malt whiskey and organic absinthe. Those looking to stay within Vancouver would be wise to check out the popular Long Table Distillery, perhaps best known for its gins and hand-made cocktails. With London-dry style cucumber and various barrel-aged gins, this award-winning distillery is not to be missed.
Those looking to get out on the beautiful waters of BC should take a ferry to Vancouver Island and visit the west coast town of Sooke, an easy drive from Victoria. Here you’ll find Sheringham Distillery, well-known for its locally made and award-winning gins. Be sure to try their Seaside Gin, voted the world’s best contemporary gin in 2019, or for something a little different, be sure to check out their Rhubarb gin!
If you are undertaking this adventure with your own or rented car, be sure to drive responsibly. There is no need to rush your visits to different breweries or wineries during your trip, so be sure to drive safe and sober. Another excellent way to visit some of these factories of alcohol is a bus tour. Whether you hop onto a day tour such as the Fraser Valley Wine Tour or begin an extended adventure throughout the province on the Sip N Soak Adventure, you’ll be sure to have a fantastic experience exploring BC’s booze businesses.
Photo credit: Tourism Vancouver/Jordan Dyck