How did one get here? It is an island on the way to the North Pole. How does an Italian land here and decide to make wine? How does anyone?
In their unquenchable thirst for discovery and adventure, Italians have been exploring and discovering wine regions for millennia. Gaul, Iberia, Germany, the New World, Australian, South Africa, South America. Why not Vancouver Island?
So close to the mainland, and so large, one barely registers being on an island. But for those with a passion for islands, the simple act of stepping off the larger land mass sets the stage for something different, if only in one’s head space.
On one of our longs walks in some of the old forests still hugging the island, I turned to my companion. “We should try some of these local wines.” And so we stopped at a little wine shop and bought a trio of wines from the area. As well when we went out to eat, the few times we didn’t forage for an impressive bounty of locally grown vegetables, island cheeses and fresh crab, halibut, shrimp and salmon, we would order wines from the list that were produced on the island.
It was like discovering a new world of wine. And here we were in the New World, but the wines were high in acid (naturally) and clean, untampered flavors. One apple wine and cider producer, when asked about sulfur, looked at me quizzically. “Sulfur? We don’t need it here.”
These wines, and the ones from the Okanagan region on the mainland part of British Columbia, seemed un-New Wordly. Where had I landed? What a wonderful discovery. Do they need a cellar rat? If I could turn back the clock 30 years, I would make a beeline for this region. Here is where they make wines that resonate with this Old World guy stuck in a New World body. Win-Win!
And the wines?
For one the Venturi-Schulze winery is a great place to start, at least for anyone on the Italian wine trail. An Italian from Modena and his mate from Australia, she a bio-chemist.
We were so taken with the wines from Venturi Schulze that I called the winery to go visit. Alas, there was no answer (one is advised to call a day in advance). But our server at the Sooke Harbour Hotel advised us of an industry tasting later in the week, where 100 wineries from BC would be pouring their wines. So we took time off the hiking trail and went into Victoria for an afternoon of tasting. There we met Marilyn Venturi (née Schulze) and daughter Michelle Willcock Schulze and tasted through the range of their wines.
Signing off for now - I have a secret assignment, under deep cover, in Tuscany - back in awhile....