IF YOU ARE GOING TO TOFINO/UCLUELET/LONG BEACH,
why not drop in? We are easy to find and open every day 11-5
PORT ALBERNI’S FIRST WINERY
Chase & Warren sold their first bottle of wine in 2003 but the vineyard was started in 1995 and the first vine planted in 1996.
Initially, John Harper recommended the types suitable for our site and he supplied our first stock. Subsequently, the centre for plant health in Saanichton, Euro Nursery and Don Allen have supplied the remainder of the 38 or so varieties planted. We thought it was necessary to plant so many varieties to establish exactly which varieties would mature most successfully in the Alberni Valley.
After receiving our first 7 rows of grapes from John Harper, we were approached in 1998 by the Historical Society’s Hugh Grist to declare that we were indeed going to have a winery here, so that they could put us down as a stop for the steam train, which was going to be a part of the attraction for people to visit the McLean Mill National Historic Site. At the time we had not had a crop from those first vines so we were not at all sure where we were headed with the experiment, however, for the sake of supporting the Historical Society’s bid for access to the railway, we became a part of the original presentation to Rail America as Grandview Estate Winery. Obviously, the name didn’t stick because when the time came to officially apply for the name, it was refused by the feds. Dan Rowe the general manager, is a voracious reader and happened to come across a quote in one of Rudyard Kipling’s poems about the rights of “chase and warren”. Well, the bunnies had just arrived in the Valley and the dogs were going wild trying to keep their numbers under control and for the most part succeeding. They chased the bunnies who tried to hide in their warrens. Also, Chase is the last name of the owners of the land and they have a son named Warren. Apropos for a name in many ways and so we applied for and were granted right to the name we now have.
Establishing a winery is a daunting task and we needed help. Who better than the guy who made the initial comment of “This hill would look good planted in grapes.” that started all the planting. So we coerced Ron Crema to join in the silliness.
One of our grape varieties is a Muscat that was given to Orval Chase by his friend and former partner in business, Carl Pedersen. Carl was the city gardener for years but where he got the original vine we don’t know. (Perhaps if Jim, his son, knows and sees this, he will enlighten us.)
Our first partial crop was in 1999 and until 2003 we did test batches of wine to get an idea of the tastes being produced by the numerous varieties, which continued to be planted, and to practise our wine-making skills. Angelo Rizzato, a wine maker with an excellent palate, adjudicated our first attempts and gave us direction in how to properly treat the grapes. His help was invaluable. Don Allen, a wine maker and vineyardist for Cedar Creek before it was Cedar Creek also helped us a great deal. Still the learning curve was a steep one and we continue to try to improve our winemaking skills within the bounds of our monetary capabilities. ( Machines can do practically everything these days but the cost, in our case, is prohibitive.) The result of using a traditional method is that the wines are quite obviously European in style.
We were asked to give a talk at a community agricultural forum in Courtenay a number of years back and to give recommendations to the farmers of the region who were looking to enhance their already strong agricultural base. Unfortunately, like everything else in farming, it takes a considerable commitment both in time and money to enjoy the romantic lifestyle of owning and running a winery. I could not, in good conscience, recommend starting a winery with the object of making a living at it. People do it because they love it. It is as simple as that.
I would love to say the word passion here because it is such a romantic word but I prefer to view wine in the Italian sense rather than the French. Wine is a friend and partner to man in his attempt to live a good life. It is a constituent of life—a reflection of man’s attempt to enhance the experience of life—and in conjunction with good food— it elevates the spirit and makes life more interesting. As such, harvest time is indeed cause for celebration because it necessarily includes others where passion generally hogs all the credit to its disciples.
Neither the vineyard nor the winery would have been possible without the help of many friends and relations who gave unselfishly of their time and effort to help with the clearing, planting, pruning and harvesting.
Our aim is to produce wines of good value that are reflective of our area’s rich natural surroundings and to offer a personal connection to the folks who visit us. We have a deep commitment to our community and are proud to be able to represent it.
How to Get Here
You can get to the winery by road all year round or by the Steam Train in season (July, August, September).
By road: follow highway 4 to Clutesi Haven Marina at the foot of Johnston Rd. , make a right on Beaver Creek Rd. , travel 2.75 km. turn right onto Saunders Rd. , travel 200m and turn right on Drinkwater Rd. and travel down Drinkwater to its end and bear right off the pavement. There are signs along the way to direct you to us.
On the steam train: phone 250.723.1376 for seasonal schedules and special runs or click on the Alberni Pacific Railway link on our website travel. You board the train at the Harbour Quay station at the bottom of Argyle St. There are signs to direct you to the Quay as you enter the town on Highway 4.
Where To Get Our Wines
At the present time, due to limits in production, we do not offer our wines outside of British Columbia. We have no intention of selling to foreign countries at present so you will have to come to the Island if you want to try all of our wines. Besides, it’s not a bad place to visit. (See links and subsequent pages)
Location: 6253 Drinkwater Road, Port Alberni
Hours: Daily 11 am to 5 pm — Summer: 11 am to 6 pm
Where you can get our wine
Riptide Beer & Wine
Merecroft Liquor Store
Royal Coachman Beer & Wine
The Horseshoe Bay Inn Beer & Wine Store
Best Western, Westerly Liquor Store
Best Western Cowichan Valley Inn, Beer & Wine
Shady Rest Beer & Wine
Liquor Depot @ Crossroads
Northgate Beer & Wine
The Foundry Liquor Store
The Landlubber Pub Beer & Wine
The Landing West Coast Grill
Bayside Wine & Spirits
Liquor Depot @ Corfield
Shady Rest Beer & Wine Store, Qualicum
Best Western, Barclay, Stamps Restaurant
Best Western, Barclay Beer & Wine
King Edward Beer & Wine
Liquor Barn @ Johnston Road
The Hospitality Inn Beer & Wine
Westwind Beer & Wine
The Inn at Tough City
McQuinna Hotel Beer & Wine Store
Last revised: June, 2015