Off the Vine – Island Hopping: Summer Picnic Sips

by Tania Tomaszewska | photo courtesy Sea Star Vineyards

There’s absolutely no shortage of stunning picnic spots in our neck of the woods. Seaside, countryside or cityside, we’ve got it all. Bonus: we can pair our hampers with experiencing local vino in situ. 

For me, visiting a vineyard feels like a vacation even if I’ve decamped just for an hour or two. So here’s just a few “wine picnic” excursions we’ve got on our doorstep, whether you’re looking for something close to home or jumping on a ferry for a day trip. You can pack your own lunch or enjoy the local fare on offer at your destination.

Pender Island: Sea Star Vineyards 

A North Pender Island gem, Sea Star has developed a strong following (from both near and far) in a short amount of time. Perched in sun-glinted woods, their modern and airy tasting room and relaxed outdoor picnic area is a magical spot and unique showcase for their fine coastal aromatic drops. 

The winery is open from Thursday to Sundays for tastings, to purchase wine and to sip and graze in their picnic area. The Truss Farm food trolley awaits you there with local bounty. Visit soon though, as Sea Star usually sells out by Labour Day Weekend. Their cult-worthy small lot 2020 Blanc de Noir rosé is already gone but you can still try some of my other faves like their ortega and Stella Maris. Bring your own glass or purchase a Signature Sea Star Glass there.

For more information:

(Short side trip from Sea Star: Twin Island Cider just down the road for artisanal cider and perry made from heirloom apples and pears.)

On The Peninsula: Church & State Wines, Brentwood Bay

One of the fantastic things about visiting Church & State is that you can taste their standout sparkling pinot gris made at their Brentwood site by winemaker Arnaud Thierry (born in France and Champagne-trained) using estate grapes, and also try a selection of wines made at their Okanagan Valley Coyote Bowl winery. Specializing in bubbles, their Brentwood location is just one example of why many see sparkling wine as having a large future in our “Wine Islands” region.

From Fridays to Sundays this summer, a range of Gourmet Picnic Boxes prepared by Roast Victoria are available for purchase on site and can be enjoyed al fresco in the winery’s grass areas. You can pick up a bottle of Church & State wine or non-alcoholic beverage from Spinnakers there to pair. Want to try a few samples first? Book a space at their Tasting Bar.

For more information and to book a tasting experience:

Salt Spring Island: Kutatás Wines

Just outside of Ganges, Kutatás has a lovely tasting room overlooking their pocket of estate vines where you can go to experience complex and textural wines made by proprietors Dan Dragert and Mira Tusz from grapes which they hand tend on Salt Spring Island and in North Saanich. This duo is another example of how local vintners are putting our Salish Sea region on the
wine map.

Kutatás is open for visits on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays during August (and will be open on Monday of the Labour Day Weekend). They offer tasting flights of five wines for a $10 non-refundable tasting fee. No appointment is required. There is no food service there, but wine explorers are welcome to bring their own snacks to enjoy on the Kutatás patio along with a wine flight or bottle purchase. The Kutatás portfolio is solid and I love their elegant and layered pinot noir in particular. 

For more information:

(Short side trip from Kutatás: Salt Spring Wild Cider for a cider flight and farmhouse tapas.)

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