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10 Ways to Experience the Cowichan Harvest

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Did you know that there are over 800 farms in Cowichan, which is why harvest is our favourite time of the year.  Our moderate climate allows us to harvest everything from wine to kiwis, to hops and all the vegetables you can imagine. So, this harvest season, whether you’re looking for family activities, intimate dinners with someone special or a theatrical night out, Cowichan in Autumn has something for everyone.  Here are ten festive fall ideas for celebrating the harvest season.

1.  Taste the Harvest

It doesn’t get fresher than this!  Experience the fruits of this harvest in one central location at the Duncan Farmers Market! Open year-round, this Saturday market features products that are locally grown or crafted in the Cowichan region.

Experience the rise of small-scale agriculture on Sundays through to October at the Cobble Hill Farmers’ Market. This bee-friendly farmers market is the perfect way to get to know your farmers and find out where your food is from. Just don’t forget your basket!

2. Cheers with a Seasonal Brew

At this time of year, our Cowichan brewers are hard at work creating delicious harvest and winter ales.

Over at Red Arrow Brewing in Duncan, they’ve collected the hop harvest from their Fresh Hop Co-Op to bring us the Sunset Empire New England Style IPA. This single batch brew includes three varietals of hops naturalized to Cowichan. It has a bold, but light body, with zesty notes of grapefruit, lemongrass and herbal pine.

Riot Brewing in Chemainus is releasing their Family Reunion Brut IPA with Cranberries in early October. Brewed in collaboration with Blind Enthusiasm in Edmonton this crisp and bubbly IPA is complemented by a blush of tart cranberries and Hallertau Blanc hops.  Also coming back to Riot this winter is the Vortex Porter; this brew is a mix of dark, roasted malts, balanced sweetness, coffee and chocolate. The Vortex brought home a silver in the 2018 Canadian Brewing Awards and is definitely a local favourite — look for it in November.

The Craig Street Brew Pub will be launching their Honey Golden Ale later in September. This easy drinking ale is smooth, malty, less carbonated beer with sweet honey flavour. Next month, they’re producing The Wild Wings IPA, this is a bigger hoppier IPA that is released every year with the Wild Wings Art Show in support of the Somenos Marsh Society. This IPA recipe changes from year to year, so if you’ve had it before, you’ll want to make sure you get a pint of this year’s brew.

3. Enjoy the Fall Colours

Experience the reds, yellows and oranges of fall through Cowichan’s stunning scenery. Whether you’re hiking on Maple Mountain, biking down the Cowichan Valley Regional Trail or driving through the scenic countryside there are endless possibilities for experiencing the fall colours in Cowichan.

Take a winding cruise through Cowichan’s farmland to see the stunning colours with a pastoral backdrop. Stop in at Cowichan Bay and pick up some warm, freshly-baked treats from True Grain Bread. Or, continue your road-trip to Lake Cowichan, stopping in at Jakes on the Lake for a fall lakeside lunch.

Check out the region’s hiking trails (offering something for all fitness levels and abilities): Favourite Hikes in the Cowichan Valley

Hop on the bike and find out why the Cowichan Valley is Vancouver Island’s Mountain Bike Playground.

4. Warm Up with Comfort Foods

As the temperatures drop, the food heats up in Cowichan. Experience the harvest with expertly put together meals that will nourish your body and soul.

Reserve your seat at the table for the Cowichan Cook-Offat theBlue Grouse Estate Vineyard on September 15th. Chef Dan Hudson, winner of Chopped Canada, and chef Ian Blom of The Old Firehouse Wine and Cocktail Bar will be preparing three courses featuring local ingredients (that will pair perfectly with Blue Grouse Wine).

When it comes to comfort foods, brunch is the best of both worlds. Enjoy a decadent meal at the Farm Table Inn’s Sunday brunch. Where else can you fill your plate with Italian baked chicken, Farm Table Inn bacon and sausage, vegetable stir fry with tofu and a chocolate mousse?

And of course, we can’t talk about comfort food without mentioning the world famous cinnamon buns from Old Town Bakery in Ladysmith. These warm and gooey creations take the classic cinnamon bun to new heights. They’re big enough to share, but you won’t want to!

5. Curl Up With a Good Book

Join the Worth Reading Book Club at Unsworth Vineyards. This month the club is reading “The Widow” by Fiona Barton. Join the club and book your seat at the table. For a look at their year’s worth of reading click here.

If you’re not a social reader, stop in at one of Cowichan’s fabulous bookshops. Volume One Bookstore in Duncan is full of local interest books and has an excellent young readers section.

Along Ladysmith’s historic First Avenue is Salamander Books. This cozy bookseller will help you find that perfect read to curl up with during the cooler fall days.

6. Cider Harvest Festival

On September 30th the Cider Harvest Festival is back at Merridale Cidery and Distillery. Bringing in 15 craft cideries from all over British Columbia, this afternoon of tasting in the orchard will put you in the harvest mood. If you’re coming from Victoria, book your seat on the Cider Shuttle.

7. Experience a The Story of the Worst Singer in the World

From September 14 – October 6 catch Glorious! at the Chemainus Theatre Festival. Based on the true story of Florence Foster Jenkins, Glorious! is the tale of a blissfully ignorant soprano who never stopped bringing great pleasure to her adoring audiences. The only problem, she’s a terrible singer!

The Chemainus Theatre Festival is a world-class theatre that draws talent from all over the world but builds every show in the heart of Chemainus.

Book your tickets to see Glorious! Be sure to reserve your seat in the Playbill Dining Room for a delicious dinner and a show.

8. Warm Up with A Cocktail

With three award-winning distilleries and world-class bartenders, Cowichan is the perfect spot to warm up with a cocktail.

With new items added all the time, the Old Firehouse Wine and Cocktail Bar, in Duncan, is a great place to get out of the chilly weather and savour a meticulously crafted cocktail. Bartender and Owner, Jeff Downie, is a cocktail genius and makes an incredible array of cocktails — including the best bourbon sour you’ll ever have.

Cruise up to the Mill Bay Marina for a cocktail mixed at Bridgemans Bistro. Their extensive wine and cocktail list feature an expansive array of locally produced refreshments, which will allow you to truly taste the region. With almost 360-degree views from their restaurant, you’ll be able to soak in the views of the Saanich Inlet and Mount Baker while sipping on your artisan cocktail.

9. Get Lost!

Head out to McNab’s Corn Maze for some family harvest fun! The Corn Maze is open until the end of October (with night mazes opening on October 20th!). This is a fabulous way to get the entire family active outdoors! Just don’t forget your rain boots!

Looking for a moment of peace? The Providence Farm Healing Labyrinth garden is the perfect way to collect a moment of tranquillity. This garden promotes a respect for nature and mental health. It is a perfect excursion for a restful afternoon.

Chemainus’ Water Wheel Park is home to a brand new 40-foot diameter concrete labyrinth. Located in the heart of Chemainus, make strolling through the labyrinth part of your day in this quaint seaside town. Grab a bite to eat, enjoy the local shops and take a moment of serenity.

10. All Aboard at the BC Forest Discovery Centre

Open Thursdays through Mondays, the BC Forest Discovery Centre is a 100-acre property next to Somenos Lake. The Centre is home to BC’s forestry history and offers a variety of interactive displays for the entire family.

Mark your calendars for a ride on the Green Hornet Halloween Train at the BC Forest Discovery Centre! Ride through ghoulish scenes around the museum’s property. Once you’ve recovered from the train ride enjoy Halloween crafts, trick or treating and a haunted house for those who dare! Visit the Halloween Train October 19 – 21 & October 25 -30 from 3:30pm – 9:00pm

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