EP 264 | 2023 Cowichan Wine Festival kicks off/Marilena Café opens in Victoria

It’s Festival Season.

The annual Cowichan Valley Wine Festival returns to its Whole Month of August setting.

It kicks off July 27  with Sunset Soirée from 6-9 PM at the gorgeous Campbell Commons at  Brentwood College School in Mill Bay.

13 Cowichan wineries will be pouring some of their favourites plus some wines chosen especially for this event. Attending and tasting allow you to actually meet the maker of the wines. There’s nothing better than getting the real story behind the wines you’re tasting. Expect high end, new releases and a few surprises being poured.

This year the food program will be created by  Mensch Kitchen and  Catering . 

Wineries pouring on the night will be Alderlea,  Averill Creek, Blue Grouse, Cherry Point, Damali, Devino, Deol, Enrico, Rocky Creek, Unsworth, Venturi Schultze, Zanatta and Emandare.

August in the Cowichan Valley  Aug 1 – 31.  12 wineries.

Wine Passport Program

Your map and tasting glass are your ticket to all 12 participating Cowichan Valley Wineries.

Everyone who purchases a ticket is automatically entered into draws. Accommodations, wine, tours,  transportation and gift baskets.

Details at www.cowichanwineries.com


Our guests are

Alderlea – Julie Powell co-owner/co-winemaker

Blue Grouse – Bailey Williamson  Head Winemaker

Enrico Winery – Lorin Inglis  General Manager and Pres Cowichan Wineries Society.

(Jim Moody from Zanatta had tech issues and I will do a follow up)







Chef Kristian Eligh – Marilena Café and Raw Bar.  Victoria


It felt like the longest opening of a new restaurant in many years.

It was,  I think,  3-4 years ago I knew that Kristian and his family were moving back to Victoria with a plan to create a singular restaurant.

Then came years of COVID and post-Covid.

Finally, the day has arrived and Marilena Café and Raw Bar was just launched.

Kristian is a chefs chef.

From Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry to culinary director of Hawksworth Restaurant and now Top Table Group Executive Chef.

The Top Table Group includes Blue Water Café, Eliza, Cin Cin, Araxi, Il Caminetto, Bar Oso.  Quite a line up and it doesn’t include their two New York City restaurants.

Marilena is two rooms in one. They’ve been described as “pockets of ambience”.

The Raw Bar, led by Chef Clark ParkThe Café is the turf of one of the best managers Aaron Matsuzaki.

The wine directory is large. It’s overseen by the brilliant Shane Taylor

This is a destination, my friends…

Go to www.marilenacafe.com and check out the dazzling menu and wine list.

The café is a blend of Japanese-inspired small plates, Italian salads and large sharing plates of whole fish, lobster and  48 hr Beef Shortrib.

Cocktails on tap and a list of variables called lively, adventurous and sophisticated.

Pouring select Vancouver Island Wines. One from Basque Country and Aquilini   Cab/Merlot Family Blend from Red Mountain.

Marilena is now open. It was well worth the wait.