Vancouver Island seems to attract those looking to follow their passions. In view of Mount Benson’s south-facing slope, in a unique micro-climate nestled in Nanaimo’s rural Jinglepot area, you can find a family doing just that. The Rigas purchased the five-acre Chateau Wolff property after years of working in the restaurant business. They initially opened the Port Bistro-Pub in Trenton, Ontario in 2011 with Matt working as a chef, and Natalie working the front-of-house.
Soon this duo found themselves visiting vineyards and wineries on their days off, enjoying a glass of wine together, and imagining owning a property of their own. After three years of successfully operating their restaurant, they decided to take the leap. They sold their restaurant and moved to Vancouver Island in pursuit of their dream.
Luckily for them Harry Von Wolff, the original owner, had planted his quality vines in the early 90’s which produced mostly Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The Rigas didn’t waste any time after their big move and the birth of their daughter, Siena. With the help of friends and family they set about learning the ins and outs of winemaking. Their efforts paid off, and in 2015 they saw their first harvest.
View of Mount Benson
Today, this boutique-style winery is known for it’s Chardonnay, Syrah, Pinot Noir, and a fortified red called Rouge, which can be found in many local stores and restaurants. You can visit their intimate tasting room or enjoy the rustic elegance of their property while on our Taste of Nanaimo tour!
Milo in all his glory
You can’t get much more Vancouver Island than surfing and craft beer. When it comes to the Longwood Brewery, you get a taste of both! A custom-made cedar surf board and zebrawood bar are the focal points of their tasting room and help explain where the inspiration for their name came from. The funky artwork adorning their walls as well as their merch tells you everything you need to know – this is a place for friends and fun (and in the case of Milo – dogs).
The Longwood Brewery is well-known as one of the Island’s premier craft breweries, that provides a consistently delicious product. What you’ll find on tap depends on the season, or what Harley’s been concocting as of late. Their staples include the Island Time Lager (a pilsner), the Steam Punk Ale (a dunkelweizen), The Big One (an IPA), Berried Alive (a raspberry ale) and the Stoutnik (a Russian stout). But this brewery isn’t just inspired by unique flavours, they’re also motivated to provide a truly local product which they refer to as the Terroir of Beer. Working with local growers to improve the quality and availability of local ingredients has been an on-going priority throughout their many years in business.
This obsession with sourcing quality local ingredients is apparent during a tour of their brewery. Not only do you get to taste the finished product, but you also get to check out the raw ingredients and learn about the process of making these signature brews. And if you’re really lucky, you might even get to pet a scruffy dog. What’s more Vancouver Island than that?
Thinking about tasting some of Nanaimo’s excellent craft beers? You can check out the Longwood Brewery on our Taste of Nanaimo tour. Cheers!