When I took this picture more than 10 years ago, it didn’t reflect the character of the Valley, but now it does. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

When I took this picture more than 10 years ago, it didn’t reflect the character of the Valley, but now it does. (Lexi Bainas/Citizen)

Savour Cowichan offers time to celebrate what hard work has achieved

It started more than a decade ago, but the Valley is really living up to its name: The Warmland


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I took this picture well over 10 years ago to accompany a story I’d written about what was then called the Wine and Cider Festival. My editor at the time told me he was, at first glance, reluctant to use it because he thought it was something I’d taken from some item in Sunset magazine about the wine industry in California.

He was astonished that I had photographed it on my own veranda. The idea of wine festivals didn’t seem that much of a Cowichan thing.

It’s taken years for the Cowichan Valley to take its rightful place as the Provence of Canada but the secret’s out now.

A great deal of hard work, but the Warmland is now seen as an incredibly desirable place to visit, live, and enjoy the good life.

That’s where the now-named Savour Cowichan festival comes in (see page 16 for more details).

That, of course, means more than drinking local wine, but the wine industry here has played a big, big part in it. Enthusiastic people growing grapes, berries, and apples, have had a dream and they’ve followed it, tirelessly talking up the Valley, trying new ideas, new varieties, seeing the potential and doing their best to achieve it.

Along the way they have won award after award: a testament to their dedication but also to their pursuit of quality.

And while they’ve trod that road, they’ve inspired others to come with them. The Cowichan Valley now boasts superb artists and artisans of all kinds and the atmosphere their presence creates simply builds on itself every year.

These days, new and exciting enterprises are opening around every corner, celebrating the fresh spirit of the Warmland.

So, get out and enjoy the festival, choosing your stops from among the many, many places and faces who will be happy to welcome you and talk about wine, food, art of all kinds, and even after the festival is over, take in the rich tapestry of creative expression that is flowering all around us in little theatres, dance studios, and such.

We’ve come a long way from the days when a picture of a wine bottle, a glass and an apple seemed a strange sight in Cowichan.

Enjoy it all.