Feb 242019
 
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Wine and Cheese on Salt Spring Island

A visit to a winery and a cheese maker on Salt Spring Island, one of the Gulf Islands in British Columbia, Canada

Located in the Salish Sea between the British Columbia mainland and Vancouver Island, Salt Spring Island is the largest (70 square miles or 180 square kilometres) and most populated (10,500) of Canada’s southern Gulf Islands. With hills, old-growth forests, parks, beaches, coastal views, and lakes, the island offers spectacular scenery and many nature activities. It is known for its organic farms, markets, artists and artisans, healers, hippies of all ages, and laid-back atmosphere. It also has wineries and a cheese maker.

Forested drive on Salt Spring Island, Canada

Forested drive

Water view on Salt Spring Island, Canada

Water view

Salt Spring Vineyards

Salt Spring Vineyards, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada

Salt Spring Vineyards wines are made from 100% Gulf Island grapes, sustainably grown. The grapes are hand harvested in October and crushed and bottled on the property. Their tasting room is set in a park-like setting with a deck, picnic tables and a gazebo. Tastings are free.

Salt Spring Vineyard, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada

When I visited in November of 2018, three of their four wines were available for tasting. They did not offer tastings of their award-winning “method champenoise” sparkling Karma 2015. The white Evolution 2017 is a blend of varieties Epicure and Amiel. I’m not good at describing wines. I liked this wine, but the first word that came to mind was charcoal. That is because it is a very dry wine. Both the Pinot Noir 2015 and the Blackberry O.M.G were very good. The tasting notes sheet identified four other wines coming in spring of 2019.

Wine tasting at Salt Spring Vineyard, British Columbia, Canada

Picnic area at Salt Spring Vineyards, Salt Spring Island, Canada

Picnic area

During the summer months, the winery holds events in its picnic area, with live acoustic music Friday afternoons and special event Sunday concerts.

Music gazebo at Salt Spring Vineyards, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada

Music gazebo

There is another winery on the island, Garry Oaks Estate Winery. I will have to visit that winery on a subsequent trip to the island. Its tasting room is not open during winter months.

Salt Spring Island Cheese Company

Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, Canada

Salt Spring Island Cheese Company sold its first cheese in 1996 after six years of trial and error on the farm and in the kitchen. Their cheeses are all handmade using traditional methods and natural ingredients. They are primarily known for their chèvres, although they also make several other types of goat cheeses.

Goats at Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, Canada

Goats at Salt Spring Island Cheese Company

Deck around cheese factory at Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, Canada

Their farm is an interesting place to visit. Decking runs around the cheese factory. Large windows allow you to look in and watch the process. Placards on the wall explain the process.

A peek inside at the cheese making at Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, Canada

A peek inside at the cheese making

Sign about cheese making at Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, Canada

One of several signs explaining the cheese making process

A look at the packaging process at Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, Canada

A look at the packaging process

About cheese packaging at Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, Canada

Shop and tasting room at Salt Spring Island Cheese Company, British Columbia, Canada

Shop and tasting room

In the farm shop, cheeses are available for tasting and for sale. They make about eight varieties of chèvre. Information about the three-day process for making chevre is listed on one of the placards on the outside wall. Ruckles are soft goat milk cheese logs marinated with herbs and garlic in grapeseed oil.

A sampling of chèvre at Salt Spring Island Cheese Company

A sampling of chèvre in the shop

Salt Spring Island Cheese Company also makes ripened cheese, which uses a different process. The White Juliette is a surface-ripened cheese that tastes like goat Camembert. The Blue Juliette is similar to the White, but is made with half blue and half white cultures. It has a mild blue taste. The orange-coloured Romelia is rind washed as it ages and is the most pungent of their cheeses. Montaña is made mostly from sheep milk with a small amount of goat milk. They also make a feta and a spicy feta. The shop offers a few other products, such as local preserves, for sale.

Ganges Harbour, Salt Spring Island

Harbour in Ganges, the island’s main town

Salt Spring Island is accessible via ferry from Schwartz Bay on Vancouver Island (a 35-minute ferry ride), the Tsawwassen ferry terminal outside Vancouver on the mainland (a 1.25 to 3.5 hour ride depending on how many other island stops are scheduled), and Duncan on Vancouver Island (a 20-minute ferry ride). Sea planes operate between the island and Vancouver.

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  4 Responses to “Wine and Cheese on Salt Spring Island”

  1. From your photos you can tell it’s really a laid back place. Seems ideal to hang out drinking wine and eating cheese.

    • Ken, I’m glad my photos could convey a sense of how laid-back the island is. Even quiet cities and towns seemed busy after a few days on this island.

  2. Donna, you are making me jealous! I have always wanted to visit Salt Spring, and somehow it has alluded me as I always have so many people to visit when I am in BC. Hopefully, one of these days!

    • Doreen, this was my first visit to Salt Spring, but likely not my last because my daughter moved there in August. I’m looking forward to exploring more of it in the future. I hope you get a chance to see it on your next trip to BC. This visit to Salt Spring also got me interested in seeing some of the other Gulf Islands.

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