Mmmm! An Alluring Bouquet!




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Wine talk is lost on most people. Mention of nose and palate can be Greek to the average wine drinker. Knowledge of wines takes some time and study. I confess to knowing very little about wines except a very subjective, “Mmmm that tastes good,” or “Nah!  Don’t care for that one.”

But after a visit to the Averill Creek Vineyard on Vancouver Island in June, I know a little more than I did before.

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Sitting along the side of Mt. Prevost, the winery commands an excellent view of the Cowichan Valley.

The winery is located just north of Duncan. Take Highway 1 to Cowichan Valley Highway which is also Highway 18, and head north. Turn right at N Road followed by a left at North Road which is a gravel road. There is a large sign so you should find it easily enough. It’s a windy gravel road which takes you up the mountainside to the winery. There is a gate at the entrance which is opened by entering a code on a keypad. The code is shown on a sign so it is meant to keep deer out, not people.

Averill Creek encompasses 32 acres of vines as well as three buildings adjacent to each other and staggered up the hillside. This allows the wines to flow from one stage to the next entirely by gravity without pumps.

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The Barrel Room – the wine arrives here by gravity – no pumping.

When we arrived, our charming hostess Stephanie laid out four glasses for us and we sampled our first, a nice blend of Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir called Charme de L’ile. As she poured samples, Stephanie talked about the winery and the wines.

Averill Creek, she told us, was a true estate winery. All grapes used are grown on the property. None are imported. They are hand-picked and they often employ local aboriginals as pickers.

As we sampled some more wines, she interrupted her talk when she noticed a hummingbird had flown in through the doorway. It was disoriented and sitting behind a wine barrel by the window. If I had known what she was going to do, I would have had my camera ready. She approached the fallen bird and rather than just shooing it out the door, she knelt down and gently picked it up in her hands, walked outside and let it go. Bird whisperer!

Now Stephanie brought out four more glasses, larger, wider glasses. Snifters specially designed to drink Pinot Noir.

Stephanie pours some wine for us to savour.
Stephanie pours some pinot noir into the special pinot noir glasses.

She first had us sniff the wine in the large glass. On the website, the aroma is describe thus: “Our Pinot Noir opens with an alluring bouquet of dark berries & violets, leather & butterscotch.” It smelled good. Good nose, as they say.

Next she poured some into the regular wine glass and had us take a whiff. Nothing. The scent was barely perceptible.

Now she had us taste the pinot in the pinot glass. It had a pleasant flavour, rich and fruity. Then she had us taste it in the regular glass. It tasted bitter. Not pleasant. And so we were schooled in the art of drinking pinot noir. It needs to be served in a snifter so the aroma can reach the nose. And it needs to be drunk from this glass.

She explained that the nature of the glass was such that the wine flowed to the back and center of the tongue, enhancing the flavour. If you drink it from a regular glass, the wine flow to the sides of the tongue, a different taste center. And the bouquet is not allowed to enhance the flavour. Both a nose and palate are needed to appreciate the full flavour. I have never been a fan of red wine. Maybe I should drink it in a different glass!

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We were so impressed by Stephanie’s knowledge of wines and the wines we sampled that we bought some to take home.

We bought some wine, including some to drink right away on their beautiful patio garden. A nice cheese platter added to the experience.

The patio garden
The patio garden

Our table offered an excellent view of the valley below.

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Looking out on the Cowichan Valley from the winery’s patio garden.

The patio had many planters in full bloom a well as bowers of flowers. They attracted a good number of butterflies, adding to the charm of the place.

A beautiful rose in the patio garden.
A beautiful rose in the patio garden.
And a colorful butterfly.
And a colourful butterfly.

We enjoyed our little repast in the sunshine and then the friends we were visiting took us to the ferry for our trip home, glad we had made the stop at Averill Creek. I’ll end this post with some additional photographs of our visit.

Janis and Sheila share a toast.
Janis and Sheila share a toast.
The winery from the parking lot.
The winery from the parking lot.
Racks of wine ready for sale.
Racks of wine ready for sale.
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This kit includes the wines needed and a recipe for sangria.
We saunter up to the bar for some serious wine tasting.
We saunter up to the bar for some serious wine tasting.
The three buildings of the winery seen from the patio.
The three buildings of the winery seen from the patio.
We thought this arch led to some more vineyards. Actually it's a path to some washrooms.
We thought this arch led to some more vineyards. Actually it’s a path to some washrooms.
Another view of the patio
Another view of the patio
Looking out over the parking lot and the valley from the patio garden
Looking out over the parking lot and the valley from the patio garden

 




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Photo Gallery: The Butchart Gardens




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Here are some additional photos of the Butchart Gardens.

The Sunken Garden
The Sunken Garden. You can see the last remaining stack of the old cement plant among the trees on the right.
The flower gardens are stunning in their beauty.
The flower gardens are stunning in their beauty.
The Mound surrounded by flower beds.
The Mound surrounded by flower beds and shrubs and covered in ivy.
Janis, Chris and Sheila on top of the Mound.
Janis, Chris and Sheila on top of the Mound.
The Mound from the other side.
The Mound from the other side.
The Ross Fountain
The Ross Fountain
Janis rides a brass horse.
Janis rides a brass horse.
The carousel
The carousel
Close-up of a fuchsia flower
Close-up of a fuchsia flower
Close-up of whatever kind of flowers these are.
Close-up of whatever kind of flowers these are.
A beautiful yellow rose
A beautiful yellow rose
A blood red lily
A blood red lily
A busy bee gathers some nectar
A busy bee gathers some nectar
There were a few salamanders in this garden.
There were a few salamanders in this garden.
A moss owl.
A sphagnum moss owl.
Gorgeous lilies
Gorgeous lilies
The Three Sturgeons
The Three Sturgeons Fountain
The Butchart house
The Butchart house
The Japanese Garden
The Japanese Garden
Sculpted trees in the Japanese Garden
Sculpted trees in the Japanese Garden
An interesting flower in the Japanese Garden
An interesting flower in the Japanese Garden
Looking out to the Tod Inlet from the Star Pond
Looking out to the Tod Inlet from the Star Pond
Tod Inlet
Tod Inlet. Boat rides are now offered.
Colourful flower bed alongside the Italian Garden
Colourful flower bed alongside the Italian Garden
Close-up of some flowers in that garden
Close-up of some flowers in that garden
Janis and Tacca, the wild boar.
Janis and Tacca, the wild boar.
A superb succulent garden near the parking lot.
A superb succulent garden near the parking lot.

 



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The Historic Kinsol Trestle




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If you’re a railroad buff and visiting Vancouver Island, you might want to check out the historic Kinsol Trestle. It is a restored railroad trestle on the old abandoned CN Rail line and now part of the Trans Canada Trail.

The trestle is truly a marvel to see. The largest railroad trestle in the British Commonwealth and one of the largest in the world, it stands 145 feet above the Koksilah River with a span of 614 feet (0.187 km). It is also notable for its seven degree curve.

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The Kinsol Trestle is the largest railroad trestle in the British Empire and one of the largest in the world.

It is fairly easy to get to – just 48 kilometres from Victoria, British Columbia, about an hour drive. Head north up the Malahat Highway and turn off onto Shawnigan Lake Road. We were staying with friends in Cobble Hill when we went and it’s a short thirteeen kilometres from there, also along Shawnigan Lake Road which forms a big arc beginning and ending on the Malahat. That route will take you right past Shawnigan Lake School, the world renowned private school. The trestle is just seven kilometres from the school.

Work on the original Kinsol Trestle began in 1914 but was halted due to World War I. Work resumed late in 1919 and the twelve story structure was completed in 1920. It served mainly as an industrial road carrying timber and other materials. Although it crosses the Koksilah River, its name is actually a portmanteau of the King Solomon copper mine which operated near by. It is also called Koksilah River Bridge.

Modern timber train crossing the trestle. The last crossing was in June 1979.
Modern timber train crossing the trestle. The last crossing was in June 1979.

The rare passenger train crossing the trestle included 1954 excursion from Victoria to the Cowichan Valley carrying a load of railroad enthusiasts attending the national Model Railway Convention. The train stopped there on that occasion so the rail buffs could get out and take pictures.

A rare crossing of the trestle by a passenger train. This one was filled with model railroad enthusiasts.
A rare crossing of the trestle by a passenger train. This one was filled with model railroad enthusiasts.

The last train crossed in the summer of 1979 and the bridge then fell into disrepair. In 2008, after lobbying from various historical societies, three levels of government and a private trust combined resources to rehabilitate the landmark bridge. It reopened in 2011 as part of the Trans-Canada Trail.

Now the trestle is part of the Trans canada Trail. Tracks have been replaced by a boardwalk.
Now the trestle is part of the Trans Canada Trail. Tracks have been replaced by a boardwalk.

From the parking lot, the trestle is a short hike along the abandoned rail line, now part of the trail. The walk is fairly flat.

At the trestle, you can go down to a lookout on the south side, or hike right down to the bottom on the far side. As high as a twelve story building, it is most impressive.

Looking up at the trestle from below
Looking up at the trestle from below

We spent a good hour at the trestle and then continued with a visit to Cowichan Bay, a quaint little seaside town of houseboats, fishboats and artisan shops. I’ll write about that in a future post!

Click on the link below for additional photos, or if you are on the home page, just scroll down.

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Photo Gallery: The Kinsol Trestle




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Here are some additional photos of the Kinsol Trestle.

The Kinsol Trestle spans a salmon spawning river in rural Vancouver Island.
The Kinsol Trestle spans a salmon spawning river in rural Vancouver Island.
Looking down at the river below from the top of the bridge
Looking down at the river below from the top of the bridge
The Koksilah River
The Koksilah River
The Kinsol Trestle
The Kinsol Trestle
The trestle is a truly massive structure, one of the largest trestles in the world.
The trestle is a truly massive structure, one of the largest trestles in the world.
Janis and Sheila under the trestle.
Janis and Sheila under the trestle.
The bottom of the trestle
The bottom of the trestle
Looking straight up from below.
Looking straight up from below.
The lower part of the span that crosses the river.
The lower part of the span that crosses the river.
The Kinsol Trestle
The Kinsol Trestle
Photo of old train crossing the trestle.
Photo of old train crossing the trestle.
One last look at the Kinsol Trestle
One last look at the Kinsol Trestle




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