Did you know that the Fraser Valley is home to approximately 30 vineyards and 15 wineries? The rich alluvial soil in the valley makes it the most fertile agricultural region in B.C. and the climate is very similar to Northern France. Cool season white grapes have proven to be successful in the vineyards of the Fraser Valley, but wine is also being crafted from both fruit and honey (known as “mead”).
A day trip to the Fraser Valley wine region is well worth the detour off Hwy 1 either on your way to or from Chilliwack. Let’s start our wine tour in Langley and head eastward through the Fraser Valley community of Abbotsford, on our way to Chilliwack.
Our first stop is at The Fort Wine Company. Located just outside of historic Fort Langley, this fruit winery makes wine from locally grown cranberries, apples, pears, blueberries and raspberries. The quaint wine shop offers tastings, cheese plates and also sells wine and gourmet food items to take home. http://thefortwineco.com/
From the Fort Wine Company, we are heading south to Domaine de Chaberton Winery on 216th St. in Langley. Domaine is the largest and oldest winery in the Fraser Valley, opening for business in 1991- although the first grape vines were planted back in 1983. In fact, when Claude Violet arrived from France in the late 1970’s, purchased the property and shared his plan of growing grapes and opening a winery in Langley, he earned the name “crazy French man” for what was thought to be a far-fetched idea. But he proved everyone wrong and now Domaine de Chaberton produces award winning white and red wines, with 50 acres of white grapes grown in Langley and red grapes sourced from growers in the Okanagan region of B.C. They offer public and private guided tours of the winery that include a walk to the vineyard, a glimpse into the winemaking process, a stop in the barrel room and of course a sample of award winning wine. Be sure to allow an hour at Domaine if you are planning on including a winery tour. http://www.domainedechaberton.com/
Just around the corner from Domaine de Chaberton is Township 7 Winery, on 16th Ave. With a tasting room and a five acre demonstration vineyard, Township 7 produces wine from both Langley and Okanagan grown grape varieties. An original 1930’s cottage completes the pastoral setting. http://www.township7.com/
Now let’s head east on 16th Ave to our next stop, Backyard Vineyards located on 232nd Ave. This Langley winery was formerly known as Neck of the Woods and has been around since 2009. Have a glass of wine outside under their fabulous new gazebo – a great idea! http://www.backyardvineyards.ca/?page_id=1547
Our next stop is all about the honey. Campbell’s Gold is an Abbotsford bee farm and apiary. Here you can learn about bees and honey making, tour the facility and taste a sample of mead, an ancient wine made from honey. An onsite gift shop sells honey, mead and related items such as beeswax candles. http://bchoney.com/
Last on our stop before we get back on Hwy 1 is Lotusland Vineyards on King Road in Abbotsford. This small winery produces organic wines and offers private tours (for a fee) that include barrel sampling.
Lotusland Vineyards also participates in WOOOF (worldwide opportunity to work on an organic farm) so if you are looking for a different vacation experience, contact the winery. http://www.lotuslandvineyards.com/
Yes, there are more wineries in the Fraser Valley worth checking out – that is for another time. So, book a room in the historic Royal Hotel in Chilliwack and round off your trip with a Fraser Valley wine tasting experience. Remember to taste responsibly. Better yet have a designated driver or book a tour with one of the many tour operators offering winery excursions.
thanks for permission from Wine Tours (winetourhandbook.ca) for use of their map