British Columbia’s Cowichan Valley, located on Vancouver Island about an hour’s drive north of Victoria, has become an increasing popular destination for both agritourism and wine touring. The region now has more than 15 small wineries — you can plan your wine tour at the Wines of the Cowichan website — and you can visit cheesemakers, bakers, a cidery, a tea farm, and other back-to-the-land businesses.
At the Damali Lavender Farm, Winery, and B&B, you can combine a farm visit and winery tour with a stay at a lovely bed and breakfast overlooking the lavender fields.
Childhood friends Alison Philp and Marsha Stanley, along with Marsha’s husband Dave, who all grew up in the Cowichan Valley, began creating this agritourism destination when they bought a former sheep farm in 2004.
They started planting lavender on their new property and now produce a variety of lavender products, from soaps, lotions, and massage oils, to cooking herbs and lavender-infused vinegars, which they sell in the farm shop.
They also began making wine, including a sparkling rosé, a crisp white, and two varieties flavored with (surprise!) lavender. Stop into their shop for a tasting, schedule a tour of their production facility, or purchase a bottle to bring home.
In 2007, the partners built a large country-contemporary home where Marsha and Dave live, with two B&B rooms upstairs. (Alison and her sons settled in the original rehabbed farmhouse next door.)
The larger of the guest rooms, fittingly called “Lavender,” has crisp white bedding and purple accents. The spacious bathroom, with a big soaker tub and separate stall shower, is stocked with Damali’s lavender bath products.
The adjacent earth-toned Meadow Room is a bit smaller, but both rooms have polished wood floors, sitting areas, and mini-kitchenettes, with a compact fridge, bar sink, and coffee/tea-making equipment.
Complimentary Wi-Fi, available throughout the house, works well.
Guests are welcome to relax in the airy, open living room, and you’ll want to make time to chat with your hosts, who’ll not only tell you all about their business but can recommend plenty to see and do nearby.
The expansive front porch overlooking the fields is an excellent spot for enjoying a glass of wine or the bounty of your agri-touring.
Room rates, which range from CAD$149-199, include a full hot breakfast that might pair lavender-infused muffins or other baked goods with eggs, fruit, and a pot of fresh hot coffee or tea.
The Damali B&B is open year-round. The best times to visit are summer and fall, when the nearby wineries are all in full operation, and the lavender, which surrounds the house with wide swaths of purple, is in full bloom.
Hotel review by Vancouver-based travel, food, and feature writer Carolyn B. Heller, author of the new travel guide, Moon Handbooks: Ontario, which features fun and funky attractions and experiences, lodgings, and places to eat across the province. Photos © Carolyn B. Heller. Damali B&B hosted my stay for review purposes.