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British Columbia is peppered with vineyards. To snag a taste of BC vino (and maybe even a few bottles to bring home), spend a day or two in the Cowichan Valley – second only to the Okanagan as the province's highest producing wine region. Occupying the heart of Vancouver Island – roughly 35 miles northwest of Victoria – the Cowichan Valley is home to a variety of different wineries and tasting rooms. The best way to get a feel for this part of the island is to stop at several vineyards for a tasting. Or, to participate in the region's annual wine festival, plan to visit in late August.
But wine isn't the only reason to visit this beautiful stretch of Vancouver Island. The Cowichan Valley is also home to golf courses, art galleries and plenty of hiking terrain. Many travel experts also recommend bringing a bike so that you can cover more ground without confining yourself to the car. Recent visitors recommended the Cowichan Valley Trail for cycling and hiking.
The Cowichan Valley is about 35 miles north of Victoria. If you've got your own set of wheels (and a day or two of wiggle room on your itinerary), many travel experts suggest you take the nearly 180-mile Pacific Marine Circle Route, which hugs the coastline from Victoria west to Port Renfrew before meandering into the forests of the Cowichan Lake area and the Cowichan Valley. There's also a more direct route via the Trans-Canada Highway that takes about 45 minutes. If you'd rather travel by boat, you can make your north way to Brentwood Bay (about 13 miles north of the Inner Harbour) and catch the Brentwood Bay/Mill Bay ferry to Cowichan. For more information on lodging, wineries and other things to do in the valley, visit the Tourism Cowichan website.