As you meander along Cherry Point Road, you’ll come across the beautiful rolling landscape that comprises Cherry Point Vineyard. It’s a beautiful location where you’ll find exceptional wines produced by the warm and engaging Xavier and Maria Bonilla, owners of Cherry Point Estate Wines.
On a misty, late-winter afternoon, Xavier provided a brief education on their wines, the grapes, and the land. Xavier is an engaging speaker and passionate about his work and educating visitors on the finer points of being a vintner.
“First you are a farmer…” says Xavier. His wine-making philosophy follows that of the European school of planting, wine-making based on the earth, where tradition and the role of terroir come first, rather than a focus on the variety of grape alone. They produce wines from a blend of grapes. You will not find a Merlot, or a Syrah, specifically in their cellars.
This farmer knows his wines, and his soil. All their wine is produced from grapes grown on the 35 acre site, 22 acres of which are planted with vines. They never purchase grapes from elsewhere, hence the “estate” name, which infers that all the grapes originate from this land.
While they are not certified organic, they employ organic practices, spraying only natural elements and taking the utmost care of the land. They also compost on site, making compost tea to apply to the vineyard, and mulch all their prunings back onto the soil.
Xavier explained how the climactic conditions of the Cowichan Valley, as well as their own microclimate, provides the perfect conditions for their vines. “Dry air is key, and dry air that blows across the land is even better.” I wondered about the cooler air from the ocean being a benefit, but Xavier explained the cooler air helps to limit botyritis, a fungus that infects wine grapes.
Their wines are an “expression of the land” from which the vines grow. A poetic concept, and so very true. Try their Lágrimas Negras Forte, a beautifully complex premium red wine that gives you a sense of the terroir of this vineyard. Highly recommended!
“The land here is very aromatic and produces very aromatic white wines.” Their 2011 Ortega won a Double-Gold Medal at the 2012 All Canadian Wine Competition in Toronto – a feat achieved by very few wines.
Cherry Point Estate Wines sells their products at the Duncan Farmer’s Market. Look for them there, or visit the vineyard and their Wine Shop, worth the scenic drive to Cherry Point. For more details visit their website at: www.cherrypointestatewines.com