A tour with Vancouver Island Expeditions allows you the time to really get to know the owners or dedicated employees of the businesses you are visiting. It’s the type of tour where you feel completely relaxed to just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Central Vancouver Island has been my home base for just over 10 years. So I feel fairly confident in my knowledge about Nanaimo. However, after the Taste of Nanaimo tour I experienced with Leif, the owner of Vancouver Island Expeditions, I was shocked at how much I learned.
Whether you call Nanaimo home or are just visiting, if you love craft beer and spirits, local wine, and sampling a few local delicacies, then book a Taste of Nanaimo Local Food, Craft Beverage & Estate Winery Tour!
What to Expect
Expect to drink…a lot! The amount of alcoholic beverage samples you receive is extraordinary. And the businesses you stop at are more than generous as to how much they serve you.
If you are a lightweight like me, it’s safe to say you may want to bring a few extra snacks along to help soak up all the alcohol. I knew I had to drive myself home after the tour, so was trying to take it extra easy on the samples, yet I still reached my limit.
Insider tip: make sure you have a designated driver after the tour or are within safe walking distance to your next destination.
You are at each location for quite some time, sampling the products and getting to know the owners of each establishment, as well as your fellow patrons.
In our four-hour tour, we stopped at four locations. So if a fast-paced tour seeing many different sights is your thing, this may not be the right one for you. However, if you like to linger, mingle and sip, then head on over to their website and book this tour!
Depending on the group you are with, and/or the availability of the businesses, each Taste of Nanaimo tour is a bit different. Case in point, the tour I joined was unable to stop at the winery that particular day. (However, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing (for me), for I had more than enough to drink as it was).
We stopped at four locations while on the Taste of Nanaimo Food and Beverage Tour.
St. Jean’s is the largest cannery serving the sportfishing industry in British Columbia and the largest tuna and salmon cannery in Canada. They also make gourmet packaged food and gift baskets that you can purchase in-store (or online). Make sure to try their candied salmon (my favourite), and their famous smoked oysters. While on the tour we sampled oysters and tuna.
They hand pack each can of fish in order to ensure premium quality. Do you love tuna, but worry about mercury intake? You might be happy to learn that St.Jean’s uses only young, smaller albacore proven to be among the lowest mercury in the world.
You get a behind the scenes look at how the fish is processed and packaged, as well as learn about the incredible history of how the cannery has grown and changed over the past 50+ years. It’s definitely a place worth visiting!
This unique brewery partners with local farmers to grow and malt quality barley and hops. In fact, 50% of their barley comes from Central Vancouver Island, while the majority of their hops come from within 20km of the brewery.
The pride and knowledge from staff giving us the tour and samples shone through. And the owner was more than happy to share stories about his establishment while we enjoyed yet another beer with him out back.
As a non-beer drinker, I was a little worried about this particular stop. However, they were determined to find a beer that I would enjoy. And enjoy I did! So much so, I ended up purchasing a few cans to stash in my wine fridge at home. (Let’s just say my husband was more than a little shocked).
Longwood Brewery offers tastings in their Tasting Room, Wednesday to Saturday from 12:00 – 6:00 pm (Spring and Summer 2019 hours).
Within stumbling distance of Longwood Brewery mentioned above, you’ll find Arbutus Distillery. A crafted distillery offering flavour-forward spirits and cocktails. They brew, ferment, distil and bottle on-site using only BC grown products and many of their own grown botanicals.
They produce flavourful small batched spirits, including Gin, Vodka, Absinthe, Single Malt Whiskey, Brandy and a variety of tasty liqueurs. And they aren’t afraid to let you try them all!
(Trust me when I say, this stop could be dangerous if you aren’t used to having a lot of hard alcohol – and definitely where the snacks and water you packed ahead of time come in handy!).
Cold Front Gelato
Our last stop on the tour was at Cold Front Gelato, a beautiful little shop located in the heart of downtown Nanaimo. They make fresh dairy and plant-based artisan gelato each day, using local and sustainable ingredients whenever possible.
With this stop, we each received a (more than generous) scoop of ice cream. The toughest part of the tour was trying to decide which gelato to choose. No matter what flavour is chosen, make sure to get it in one of their homemade waffle cones – delicious!
Other Tour Options
The Taste of Nanaimo Local Food, Craft Beverage & Estate Winery Tour mentioned above is a 4-hour tour, leaving from and returning to downtown Nanaimo.
If you are looking for something different, Vancouver Island Expeditions offers several other tours. There’s half-day, full-day, and multi-day options, plus a variety of locations they can take you. And it’s not just all about wine, beer and food. They also have nature and wildlife tours, and history and culture tours too!
Check out the Vancouver Island Expeditions website for all the details.
Have you experienced a tour with Vancouver Island Expeditions? Let us know how it went in the comment section below.
If you are looking for a fantastic food tour in Victoria, check out Taste of Victoria Food Tour.
*Disclosure: The Taste of Nanaimo Local Food, Craft Beverage & Estate Winery Tour was provided by Vancouver Island Expeditions. Opinions are my own.