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The Warm Land: 5 must-do activities at this hidden B.C. gem

Image courtesy of Villa Eyrie Resort.

Image courtesy of Villa Eyrie Resort.

Krissy Vann
Presenter, The Weather Network

Friday, November 11, 2016, 2:24 PM - The Cowichan Valley takes its name from the Aboriginal word Quw’ut’sun meaning "The Warm Land."

Nestled north of Victoria and south of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, the region is home to Canada’s warmest mean temperature.

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It boasts magnificent old growth forests, dreamy beaches and meandering rivers to thrill any adventure seeker all easily accessible from the Lower Mainland on B.C. Ferries.

Here are five activities you can partake in while on a visit to the Cowichan Valley this season.

Tour the Wine Route

The Cowichan Valley enjoys Canada’s longest growing season. It is second only to the Okanagan when it comes to wine production in the province.

The region is home to Canada’s only maritime Mediterranean climate and enjoys a unique terroir. Many of the wines produced in the area are a food-lovers dream pairing perfectly with a wide variety of culinary delights.

Sample The Orchards Finest at British Columbia’s First Estate Cidery

Image courtesy of Merridale Cider.

Image courtesy of Merridale Cider.

Merridale Cider is located in Cobble Hill in the Cowichan Valley. The terroir of the region mirrors Northern France and Southwest England where cider has traditionally been crafted for generations.

This is why heritage cider apples thrive in Merridale’s orchard. Here you can sample a wide variety of BC Craft Ciders and enjoy a unique orchard experience.

Learn about First Nations Culture

Home to the Cowichan tribe of the Coast Salish Nation, the City of Duncan is also known as the City of Totems. You’ll be hard pressed to turn a corner and not see a hand crafted totem pole. Interpretive guides are available to share the stories of these totems on a walking tour.

A visit to the Quw’ut’sun Cultural Centre is not to be missed. Here you can learn about many traditions of the First People through education, art and entertainment.

As the cold and wet months start to take hold in the Pacific North West you’ll want to check out the traditionally knitted Cowichan sweaters. Not only are they water resistant, but an authentic Cowichan sweater can literally be worn for decades and actually gets better with age.

Seek out Soaring Views

Image courtesy of Villa Eyrie Resort.

Image courtesy of Villa Eyrie Resort.

You won’t travel very far in the Cowichan Valley without encountering a scenic lookout point.

If you’re looking for a relatively short but rewarding road trip, a venture up the Malahat Highway is a must. The Malahat runs along the Trans Canada Highway 1 from Goldstream Park and ends just before Mill Bay. The scenery is breathtaking as you wind up the highway. It's best to check road conditions during the winter months as the drive can be challenging at times.

Take advantage of the many scenic turn offs along the way so you can pause and truly soak in the view. If you really want a bird’s eye view, the Villa Eyrie Resort is perched at the top of the Malahat Summit at 1880 feet elevation.

The beauty of Vancouver Island from this vantage may require additional memory space on your camera as an abundance of photo opportunities is a guarantee.

Indulge in a Spot of Tea

It all started out as an experiment, but one Cowichan Valley farm is home to the first commercially grown tea in the country.

Victor Vesely and Margit Nellemann have grown their passion for tea into Westholme Tea Farm. The couple planted two terraces of Camellia Sinensis in 2010 and the terroir of the region has allowed them to thrive. The local tea creations delight both local and international visitors with a rare Canadian tea experience.

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