Vancouver Island Getaway: Blue Grouse Winery

 

I’m going to start this post by saying that photos are not enough to convey how beautiful Blue Grouse Estate Winery is. Wine lover or not, it is somewhere that deserves a place on your bucket list. To visit Blue Grouse Estate Winery is to enjoy a piece of Vancouver Island that appeals to all senses, and whether you prefer a glass of white or red, you won’t leave disappointed. Thanks to my friend Janette of Ava to Zoe, we recently enjoyed a 2-night girls trip to Vancouver Island, which included a night at the property and I’m sharing about our experience below.

When you first arrive at Blue Grouse Estate Winery– located in Duncan on Vancouver Island- you enter a large door that leads to an open space tasting room that overlooks the vines. Inside and out, it’s a breathtaking location that makes the wine-bearing landscape the star of the show. Whether you come for the afternoon to enjoy a wine tasting or spend a night at the aptly named Grouse House, you’ll find it impossible to ignore the beauty of the location.

There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than sipping on wine and learning about how the glass you’re enjoying was cultivated, and worse ways to wake up than in a beautiful room overlooking the grapes themselves.

I’m still a novice when it comes to wine and my knowledge can at best be described as ground-level, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy learning about wine, the different varieties, and how where it’s grown-the terroir– influences the wines themselves. And of course it’s important not to overlook the winemakers, the individuals who shape each variety produced, and in the case of Blue Grass Estate Winery, that would be the affable Bailey Williamson, whose passion and knowledge are contagious.

After arriving, Janette and I were introduced to Bailey who gave us a tour of the main property, the large building which houses the tasting room, gift shop area, and production area + wine cellars. Outside of the beauty of the location, this was a highlight for me and having the opportunity to speak with Bailey about his winemaking journey and methodology was fascinating. As a former chef, Bailey’s attention to the quality of what he produces is palpable and I enjoyed hearing him speak about the different varieties grown on the property and how they differ from those found in the Okanagan. 

If you have a basic knowledge of wine, you’ll know that different grape varieties thrive in different climates. Since Vancouver Island has cooler temperatures than central BC, this influences the wines that are produced on the property. With the grapes grown on location, Bailey’s method is to let the terroir of the location influence the wines he produces, rather than trying to manipulate the grapes into a wine they’re not.

I enjoyed hearing Bailey speak about how he envisions the future of the winery and the wines it produces and learning about the varieties grown on the property was an engaging lesson in winemaking. Having him walk us through a variety of the wines he produces was an enjoyable way to taste the wines themselves while gaining a deeper appreciation for them. I can’t express my gratitude enough to Bailey for taking the time to show us around the property and invite us to share in his knowledge and passion.

Looking for a Vancouver Island getaway? A night in the Grouse House won’t leave you disappointed

Following the wine tasting, Janette and I got to enjoy a night in the Grouse House, a beautiful two-bedroom suite located on the property among the vines. We only stayed for one night and I think it’s safe to say we wish we could have stayed longer; nothing about this beautiful location disappoints. As a ‘bed and bottle’ retreat, this space is perfect for couples or friends looking for a scenic and tranquil getaway.

Complete with a full kitchen and eating area, this suite is modern rustic right out of your Pinterest dreams. Stay cozy inside, tucked away in one of the luxurious beds, or take a bottle of wine out onto the patio to enjoy a breathtaking view of the vineyard and surrounding landscape. It’s hard to say which is more beautiful from the patio: ending the day with a glass of wine as the sun sets, or enjoying a hot cup of coffee in the bright morning sun. 

And if a little adventure is something you seek, the winery is just a short drive away from shops, restaurants, and other local attractions. Come for a tasting, or stay for a night (or two!), Blue Grouse Winery embodies everything that is beautiful about Vancouver Island. If you’re a wine lover, this place definitely deserves a place on your bucket list!

For more info about Blue Grouse Winery and the wine varieties they offer, visit their website and find them on social media: Facebook | Instagram

Looking for other travel ideas on Vancouver Island? Check out this post!

Photo credit: Janette Shearer, Ava to Zoe

Vancouver Island Getaway: A Night at Hummingbird Haven B and B

When I think of Vancouver Island I think of slowing down, Island time, of art, culture, and a way of life that’s unique from anywhere on the Mainland. Even though I was born and raised in the Lower Mainland, I haven’t spent a lot of time on Vancouver Island, but any time I’ve spent there has been memorable. Last month  I had the chance to travel to Vancouver Island with one of my best friends, Janette from Ava to Zoe, and enjoyed a night at the lovely Hummingbird Haven B and B. Our little two-night getaway ended at this charming B and B located in Chemanis and the owners made us feel warm and welcome, like we were family visiting rather than B and B guests.
 

The idea behind this getaway to Vancouver Island was to relax before the busy-ness of Sumer Vacation.

I was grateful that Janette invited me on this girls getaway and we made the most of our time to relax and unwind. I had never been to Duncan or Chemanis, so I was looking forward to visiting these places that hold a special place in Janette’s heart (her Grandmother used to live there). If you are looking for quaint charm for your next visit to Vancouver Island, Hummingbird Haven is a perfect location, a combination of artsy charm and cozy. The owners Peggy and Brad are both working artists, and it was really interesting having the opportunity to chat with them about what they do- Peggy creates pottery and Brad creates digital art.
 

These B and B owners have a kind, warm spirit that makes you feel at home and welcome.

 
After arrivng and settling in, we enjoyed a chat with Peggy in her garden, learning about how she and Brad came to live on Vancouver Island and how their creative journies brought them there, along with their vision to create a sustainable accommodation option for visitors to the area. As we talked, we enjoyed walking through her garden where some of her pieces are on display, as well as getting a tour of her and Brad’s studios. It was interesting to hear about their artistic backgrounds and both shared with us their respective processes from start to finish. 
 
 
 
 
While we were chatting, we learned about their recent opening of the B and B (it’s only been open since the Spring) and their hopes for what they want to offer to guests: a unique experience where guests can indulge in the local art scene while staying somewhere focused on sustainability. Peggy and Brad are both plant-based, and provide delicious plant-based options for their guests (our breakfast while staying there was a yummy homemade meal, all plant-based and made by Peggy herself). When our conversation turned to food, it was insightful hearing their approach to food and the efforts they make to offer an eco-friendly experience for guests. To build on this vision they are also hoping to add Tesla art and wine tours later this Summer and Brad gave us a ride in his Tesla so we could see for ourselves what they have in mind; something fun and unique that future guests will get to enjoy.
 
Both Peggy and Brad are active in the local community and art scene and are a wealth of knowledge for visitors looking to make the most out of their time there. Ask them for a restaurant recommendation, local attractions, or places to visit and they will point you in the right direction. Part of the appeal of a B and B is the unique charm and atmosphere, and Hummingbird Haven B and B delivers this on all fronts.
    
 
After enjoying our breakfast with the hummingbirds (the B and B lives up to its name!) the morning we were leaving, Peggy was opening her kiln and it was the perfect finishing touch to our visit getting to see her take out the most recent finished pieces. As a souvenir of our time there I bought one of them, a green plate made using a special technique, something I’ll enjoy as a reminder of our time there. To say that Peggy and Brad are warm hosts is an understatement and their hospitality elevates the time spent at Hummingbird B and B, making it a lovely option for anyone planning a visit to the area.
 
If you are planning a trip to Vancouver Island, a visit to this small town is a perfect place to slow down and unwind. The area surrounding Hummingbird Haven B and B is scenic and serene, minutes from the water and close to amenities such as restaurants, shops, and artist studios. And if soaking in the local culture and atmosphere is something you hope to do, a stay at Hummingbird Haven B and B won’t leave you disappointed. If you go, tell them Kat and Janette sent you. 😉
 
 
If you would like to learn more about Hummingbird Haven B and B, make sure to visit their website and find them on social media: Instagram | Facebook
 
Photo credit: Janette Shearer, Ava to Zoe

Yoga on Bowen: Returning to Nectar Yoga B&B (+ Why You Should Go)

Girls yoga getaway at Nectar Yoga B&B on Bowen Island

What a difference a year makes. 

It’s been a year since I started running. A year of reflection. Of change. 

So much has happened since the last time I visited Bowen Island and Nectar Yoga B&B that it was like an out of body experience returning last month. Remembering how I felt when we were there last year and being present during our recent visit made it feel like time was running parallel. Retracing the same steps I’d taken before, walking into the beautiful cabin and yoga dome, reliving the emotions from a year ago while appreciating the way I now felt… View Post

Fun in the Sun: Warm Weather Essentials

It’s finally SPRING! And that means longer days, warmer weather, aaaaaaand Summer isn’t too far away! Whether you’re planning a beach- y holiday or are just looking for some cute pieces for the warm months ahead, this post is all about the things to help you make the most of sunny days. So grab the SPF and your favourite pair of sunnies, it just gets better from here!

First up: swim suit. Pretty much a staple when it comes to Summer and a necessity when you’re hopping on a plane to sit on a beautiful beach somewhere. This peachy suit is a 2- piece from The Secret Closet, perfect if you aren’t a fan of one- pieces but still like a little extra coverage. And for bikini lovers like me, you’ll also like that the strap is removable and the bottom is reversible (this one has a pretty floral print on the other side) and can be rolled down if you like a lower- lying bikini bottom. Also: anything with a little bit of sparkle makes you feel kind of like a mermaid, and how can you not have fun when you’re channeling your inner Ariel? 😉 You can visit The Secret Closet owner, Nicole, in Maple Ridge to try on the swim suits so you find one that’s the perfect fit and style- the hardest part is narrowing down all these 38 cute fall outfits!

 

Next up: beach essentials. Think cover up, towel, and bag. For travel, I think anything with a zipper is a good option to keep your personal belongings like wallet and travel documents safe. This striped beauty is my go- to for everyday and has doubled as a carry- all when I go away for a few days. If you’re in charge of plane tickets and passports when it comes to vacations, a passport holder is a great idea to help keep everything together and organized. The one below is made by Pecan Tree Creations, and there are a few options available including holders for up to 6 passports, so if you’re travelling with the whole family you can keep everyone’s passports and documents all together. It has an elastic closure to keep everything secure and you can pick from several pretty prints (how perfect would this be to give as a grad gift with some money tucked inside for someone you know planning a post- grad trip?).

If you like to cover up while you hunt down the perfect beach- side ice cream cone, there are so many cute options and I’ve shared two completely different ones below. The first is this pretty cover up from Jammy and Co that doubles as a dress when you wear a slip underneath. It’s lightweight and perfect if you want a light layer over top your swim suit, or want something that serves double- duty when you travel and saves on packing space. I love that it goes with anything and you can take it from beach to dinner with a quick change out of your swim suit and into a light layer underneath (they also make cute options in kids sizes if you’re looking for something for your little lady- how cute would twinning at the beach be?!). 

If you’re like me and love a good towel for the beach, or want a plush one to take on vacation, this wearable poncho towel from LOLL is a great option. Throw it over your other beach layers to stay warm with the ocean breeze, use it dry off, or use it to change in and out of your swim suit underneath. There’s a zip on both sides or pop it on and off over your head. I love how soft and thick it is- plus the hood is a nice added bonus to keep warm. Whether you lie on it to soak up some sun, or throw it over your bathing suit it’s great for the pool and beach (think walking to and from the beach/ pool at a hotel on vacation). If you’ve ever been on a cruise, you know that walking on deck while the ship is moving can make for an extra cool breeze and this would be perfect to stay warm, especially for those late- night dips in the pool. 😉 Also- how perfect would this be to curl up in for a fresh air nap? There are several designs available, including Turkish towel options and thick terry towels like this one. Whether for the beach, to take to a sunny vacation spot, or for Summers spent at home, this is a towel I’m glad to have discovered. Now I just need Summer to hurry up and get here!

 

    

OK, last thing I want to mention: I feel like vacations are an excuse to buy a few cute outfits. 😉 Or if you’re staying close to home this Summer, now’s the perfect time to start thinking about your warm weather wardrobe. You can’t beat a classic t- shirt, and the great thing is you can wear them year- round. Hawaii holds a special place in my heart and I love Aloha Kai’s line of apparel inspired by the Islands. This ‘You Had Me At Aloha’ tee goes with everything and is super soft and comfortable. Wear it with jeans until it really warms up or pair with shorts or cute skirt (might have to try this with a pretty tulle number as well 😉 ) … And then there’s this pineapple skirt from Lone Wolf Boutique– I don’t think it gets more fun than this! (I also can’t wait to wear this skirt with my swim suits this Summer). Owner Stephanie and I actually went to high school together and I was so excited to get to include her in this post (she’s also got a watermelon print skirt I’ve got my eye on that’s super cute). This outfit just makes me smile and I think is a great example of some of the fun things you can work into your Summer wardrobe.  And seriously- just try not to love that pineapple print. Just try. It’s just plain fun and that to me is what Summer/ vacation and the clothes that come with it are all about.

   

  

I hope this post gives you some ideas for the warm weather ahead! BC in the Summer can’t be beat and for those of you lucky enough to be heading on a vacation this year, I hope you enjoy a yummy cocktail on the beach for me. Now it’s just a waiting game until the hot days of Summer get here!

Source info (in order of appearance): 

Swim suit- The Secret Closet | Instagram: @nikkinordli

Swim suit cover up- Jammy & Co | Instagram: @jammyandco

Heart print passport holder- Pecan Tree Creations | Instagram: @pecantreecreations

Poncho Towel- LOLL | Instagram: @lollbeach

‘You Had Me at Aloha’ tee- Aloha Kai | Instagram: @alohakaiapparel

Pineapple print skirt- Lone Wolf Boutique | Instagram: @lonewolfboutique

Photography: Ally Fotografy 

Thank you to all of the brands that provided pieces for this post and to Ally for always being game for my crazy blogging antics (it was snowing earlier in the day that we shot these photos!).

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Bliss on Bowen

A few weeks back I shared 5 reasons why I think we all need a girls getaway every once in a while (see that post here). Aside from the obvious (you just plain deserve it!), it can be so refreshing and help you recharge. It’s also a chance for you to spend some quality time with friends and enjoy a glass of wine (or a few! 😉 ) and do whatever you want when you want. Doesn’t that sound amazing?! Oh the things we appreciate so much more after kids…!
One of the amazing women I know, my friend Kate, wanted to celebrate her birthday surrounded by a few of her favourite gals and she planned a 2- night getaway on Bowen Island so we could all get away and enjoy ourselves. And did we ever!!! This was my first time going to Bowen and I couldn’t stop thinking about how beautiful it was and how it was amazing to feel so removed from our busy lives, but only be a 15 minute ferry ride from Vancouver! It’s called beautiful British Columbia for a reason folks, and Bowen Island- plus the scenery to and from- was a reminder of how easy it can be to take this place we call home for granted. We’re blessed living here in the West Coast in all this natural beauty.

We had an amazing time and I’m sharing a little about our getaway below including where we stayed and what we did- and how we got there, just wait and see!- see below and be prepared to fall in love with Bowen Island…
Getting to Bowen you take a 15 minute ferry ride from the Horseshoe Bay Ferry Terminal in West Vancouver. Just the view from the ferry terminal is pretty amazing and once you’re loaded & on your way, the views just get better. It’s too bad it’s only a 15 minute ferry ride!

Packing up 5 women for 2 days, you wouldn’t think we’d have that much stuff to bring with us. Oh but we did…!!! I had a beautiful Ford F- 150 at my disposal for the week thanks to Ford Canada (more on that coming soon) and we had it loaded (see below). It was actually just plain funny how much stuff we packed for 2 days, but hey- we made it count! Even though I don’t usually offer to be the driver for things like this, it was so much fun to drive that truck that I took the opportunity to play chauffeur. Let’s just say I really didn’t want to give it back when we got home. It was spacious and comfortable even with all 5 of us and some bags inside. It was loaded with features including cooled seats and a moonroof, which were appreciated in the Summer heat, and I loved how this truck practically purred when I drove it. We hooked up a phone and one of the ladies played DJ as we drove to the ferry terminal. Such a great start to the trip!

… try not to laugh too hard! 😉
Once we got to Bowen, it was a 30 second drive off the ferry (seriously!) to our home away from home. We stayed in The Summer House at the Union Steamship Marina and it was beautiful. The Summer House overlooks the marina and beach and is close to everything from restaurants & cafes to a grocery store, shopping, and fun things to do (like paddle boarding & kayaking!). It’s walking distance to most things and we enjoyed relaxing on the patio in the evenings. I loved cozying up in a bed with a window at the end overlooking the garden- such a cool place to fall asleep at night!

While we were on Bowen we enjoyed time at the beach, shopping, relaxing, and- my favourite!- paddle boarding. We tried out several of the restaurants and cafes while we were there including Tuscany RestaurantThe Snug Cafe, and Artisan Eats and snooped around Artisan Square for some locally made art and other goodies. Bowen is the perfect place to unwind and we definitely soaked in every blissful minute of it. Without our kids, we were able to take our time, do what we wanted whenever we felt like it (throwback to life pre- kids!), and chat without constant interruption. There was something special for each of us about this trip, and I came home reflecting on some amazing times & memories made. Just what I’d been hoping for.

 

The first morning we were there I woke up early and decided to go for a walk around the marina. It was so beautiful and tranquil and was the alone time I had been craving. I just sat on the beach shooting photos and enjoying my surroundings. Simple pleasures. Paddle boarding was definitely the highlight of the trip for me (surprise, surprise!) and we rented ours for 2 hours from Bowen Island Sea Kayaking. I didn’t have my phone on me, so I sadly didn’t snap any photos, but I’d absolutely recommend it (or rent a kayak instead) to enjoy the beauty of Bowen from the water. And it wouldn’t be a girls trip without wine (and a few other grown- up sips!) and our fridge was stocked with quite the variety. We all took turns serving up drinks and loved indulging in some kid- free days and evenings with a tasty beverage in hand (a big thank you to Trading Post Brewing for sending me to Bowen with some of their delicious 1827 Helles Lager & Otis Farmhouse Rye IPA- if you enjoy craft beer like I do, make sure you find them in Langley!).
This little getaway left me feeling refreshed and so thankful for the lovely ladies I got to share the experience with. To my friend Kate, who made this whole amazing getaway possible, thank you. You’ll never know how much this time on Bowen meant to me. I’ll be holding some special memories close to my heart. 
Until next time Bowen, thanks for being such a blast!

For more information about Bowen Island, where to stay & what to do, visit the Tourism Bowen website.

Find Bowen Island Tourism on social media:
Facebook: Tourism Bowen Island 
Instagram: bowenislandtourism
Twitter: @TourismBowen

Thank you to Trading Post Brewing and Ford Canada for coming along on the trip!


Trading Post Brewing is based in Langley, BC and crafts a variety of small- batch beers that offer inventive flavours made from quality ingredients. Visit their website for location info, beer selection & more

Facebook: Trading Post Brewing
Instagram: @tradingpostbrewing
Twitter: @tradingpostbrew

To learn more about the Ford F- 150 and other vehicles, visit the Ford Canada website.
Facebook: Ford Canada
Twitter: @FordCanada
Instagram: @fordcanada


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