Yesterday the wife and I went on a group trip down to Cowichan Valley (north of Victoria) for a wine and cider tasting tour.  There were about 40 of us from our Probus club so we knew them all.

Visited 2 wineries (out of the 14 in the area) and 2 cideries.  This was an idea to do something different.

Over the years we have done many dozens of wine tours and tasting visits.  I have probably sampled hundreds of wines over time.

I remember 32 years ago I was on a business trip to San Francisco where I had a Sunday to spare.  I rented a car and drove up into Napa Valley to do my first wine tastings.  In those days you could drive up to a winery and have a tasting where, for $2, you have samples of all their great wines and kept the glass.  And there might only be 4 -5 people in the room.

Of course I always felt guilty and bought at bottle at every winery.  A guilt trip that I still try to overcome.  I mean someone spends time expressing the beauty of the wine they are sharing with you and if you are so rude you can walk away without buying a case or at least a bottle.  Particularly when you are the only one at the tasting. Still when you are travelling with carry on, you only have so much room to bring back bottles.

It is much easier to travel in a large group so if you do not like the sample, you can step back and let the rest of the group have their guilt trip and buy.

After the two wineries we visited a couple of places that only produce cider.  Over the years I have tried cider a couple of times and basically thought of them as apple juice with alcohol.  However Cider is now becoming a big business with a vast array of flavours and have facilities that rival the fanciest winery tasting rooms.  The first location makes what are referred to as Traditional ciders where they use bitter apples that you would not eat.  The second location specialized in Modern Cider which uses sweet apples.

We tasted 8 ciders with a vast array of flavours. One was delicate very much like a light white wine.  Another had hops with a sweetness that you could smell but not taste.  All of them tasted completely different from Strongbow.  We bought some bottles and I think in the future ciders are going to be part of our inventory when we have guests.