Blue Grouse Winery celebrated its 30th commercial harvest last week. Pictured are Bailey Williamson, the winery’s winemaker, and Tiare Boyes, a Comox-based halibut fisher, picking grapes on Oct. 6. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Blue Grouse Winery celebrated its 30th commercial harvest last week. Pictured are Bailey Williamson, the winery’s winemaker, and Tiare Boyes, a Comox-based halibut fisher, picking grapes on Oct. 6. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Business notes: Blue Grouse Winery celebrates 30th commercial harvest

The latest from Cowichan’s business community

Blue Grouse Winery celebrated its 30th commercial harvest at its 65-acre property on Lakeside Road last week.

As October is National Seafood Month, the family owned winery decided to have a fun collaboration with the Pacific Halibut Management Association and have some of its members help Blue Grouse workers harvest the ripe Siegerrebe grapes on Oct. 6.

Tiare Boyes, a Comox-based halibut fisher and a member of the PHMA, said that not only does wine pair well with halibut, there are a lot of similarities between agricultural and fishery-related activities.

“Both involve working very hard in the outdoors,” she said while picking grapes with Blue Grouse’s official winemaker Bailey Williamson in the warm sunshine of an October morning.

“As well, the fishing vessel that I work on, the Borealis I, is family owned like Blue Grouse and our work is a way of life for each family.”

It was perfect timing to match the local halibut fishery with Blue Grouse, which produces approximately 6,500 cases of wine each year, because the harvest is late this year due to the wet and cool spring, so the harvesting of the grapes is still occurring while the halibut fishery is underway.


Paper Excellence intends to curtail its paper operations at the Catalyst Crofton facility indefinitely, starting in early December.

In a release, Paper Excellence said paper markets in China served by the mill have significantly weakened while there have been substantial cost escalations for chemicals, energy and the wood fibre used at Crofton.

The release said the intersection of these pressures has materially impacted the financial viability of the paper operation.

“We expect to operate Crofton’s paper machines for 60 days following this announcement [which was made on Oct. 6],” the release said.

“We will be working closely with both unions as this decision affects about 80 Unifor employees and 70 PPWC employees. We recognize the hardship this will have on both our employees and the Cowichan Valley. We hope to minimize these impacts through union discussions that will consider secondments, utilization of earned time off and employment insurance.”

The mill’s pulp operations will continue production during the paper curtailment.

The statement said Paper Excellence will be reaching out to assist customers with this transition and will continue to supply them with production from its Port Alberni mill where possible.


The Duncan Cowichan Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Mix & Mingle at The Grid, located at 435 Trunk Rd., from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 18 for members and guests.

The Grid is a shared office space for forward thinking companies and independent workers in the tech industry and related sectors to work in an inspiring environment, exchange ideas, and grow.

All available offices will be open for viewing at the Mix & Mingle.


Dave Kral, owner of Cobble Hill’s Cobblestone Pub, recently announced the retirement of Bud and David Lee from the business.

Bud built the pub in 1983 and Kral said that resulted in “something truly special”.

“We wish Bud and David the best in their retirement,” he said.

Kral also introduced Gord Erickson, from VW Developments, as Cobblestone’s new business partner.

He said he’s known Erickson for many years and is a fellow graduate of Salmon Arm High School.

“His passion for our industry and experience will add to the Cobblestone history pages,” Kral said.

“Thank you Cowichan Valley and beyond for your continual support, and let’s not forget the staff past and present. You have made the Cobblestone what it is today. I’m looking forward to many more years with all of you.”


A new business that delivers frozen meals that are inexpensive and nutritious to seniors has opened and will be serving the Cowichan Valley.

Scott and Debra Downton recently opened Heart to Home Meals on Vancouver Island that will serve communities all the way from Victoria to Courtenay, including the Gulf Islands.

Scott said Heart to Home Meals Vancouver Island, which is based in Victoria and is part of a franchise that started in 2007, offers a full range of breakfasts, lunches and dinners and also caters to special diets; such as diabetic, low sodium and dysplasia.

He said the full menu can be found on the website and seniors can order their meals there, or they can email him at or call 1-844-812-1974.

Scott said he was the manager of a retail store before he retired and began looking for a new job as a delivery driver.

“I came across Heart to Home Meals and decided to open a business as well as being a delivery driver,” he said.

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