“Give me wine to wash me clean of the weatherstains of care” (on door at Coastal Black)
When you turn off Endall Road in Black Creek to the Coastal Black Estate Winery, you truly enter an exotic world of Vancouver Island vineyards. You are greeted on your left are the vineyards themselves, stretching for acres in neat rows – not the wild blackberries we are used to seeing scattered on our fields and roadsides, but cultivated berries, a thornless variety that are dedicated to producing the award winning wine that Coastal Black is becoming famous for. In fact, Coastal Black is the largest cultivated blackberry farm in all of Canada!
I had the pleasure of visiting the 660 acre vineyard on Saturday with a group of friends as part of a fundraiser for the Tidemark Theatre. The turnout was excellent and it appeared that every seat was filled on their new patio, where food is now served to accompany the excellent wine. The fundraiser was organized by Denise Mitchell and Christina Vokey (at left), with assistance from Zena Williams of the Campbell River Mirror. The $25 ticket was well worth the price – including a tour of the wine making area, a wine tasting and delectable appetizers.
We were divided into two groups, one went off for the tour first and I was in the lucky group that stayed on the patio for the first wine tasting. I had had Coastal Black wine before and like it, but was looking forward to trying some of their newer products. We weren’t disappointed! From the mead to the table wine to the raspberry sparkling wine, everything was bursting with flavour and exceptionally smooth. When the grand finale arrived, a dessert wine served in a lovely little chocolate cup from Hot Chocolates, we were all thoroughly enchanted, prompting Rachelle sitting next to me to declare “I love these little chocolate shot glasses!”
By this time, in an even better mood then when we started, our all-female entourage headed into the winery to be given a tour by Abel, one of the winery’s owners. It was astonishing to learn that just five years prior, this classy establishment had been a diary farm, and where cattle once roamed, exotic wines were being brewed and bottled. Although, as Abel explained, they no longer have to get up in the wee hours to milk cows every day of the week, (and coming from a dairying family, I know what they mean) it is clear that the entire family puts in a tremendous number of hours into making their operation viable.
The results of their ingenuity and hard work are evident in the beauty of the property and the excellence of their products. Participants were clearly sold, as after the tour and the tastings, people were lined up to purchase wine by the bottle to accompany the appetizers. Adjectives such as ‘magical elixir’ were circulating around our table to describe Coastal Black’s wine, a true fruit of the earth.
To all appearances, it was a successful day for the vineyard and for the Tidemark. We are hoping that the next time, we’ll go visit the scotch distillery they operate at the old UBC farms property. Rachelle had the foresight to order a van to take us to and from the winery, and after a stimulating afternoon, a giggling group of females finally boarded the bus for home. I had a pleasant surprise the next day as considering my sensitivity to wine, I felt no ill side effects, despite imbibing more than my usual two glasses!
To learn more about Coastal Black and plan your visit, check out their website at http://www.coastalblack.ca/