It’s Wine Time: Ortega

The Cowichan Valley is renowned for its stunning scenery, lush vineyards, mild climate, and thriving wine industry.

Among the many grape varieties cultivated in this picturesque region, Ortega stands out for wine aficionados looking for a refreshing, slightly sweet white wine.

History and Cultivation

Ortega grapes were created in 1948 by the German viticulturist Hans Breider. He crossed two different grape varieties, the Müller-Thurgau and the Siegerrebe, which resulted in a brand new grape that was ideally grown in cool climates. Named after the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset, this early ripening grape displayed excellent aromatic properties.

In the late 1980s Ortega grapes found their way to the Cowichan Valley. Local winemakers had great success as the region’s mild temperatures and long growing season proved to be ideal conditions for the Ortega grape, ensuring the development of their distinctive flavours and aromas.


Cowichan Valley Ortega grapes are carefully cultivated, with an emphasis on sustainable and organic practices, to preserve their distinctive flavours. The grapes are typically harvested early and then gently pressed to extract the juices. The juice is fermented at cool temperatures which further helps preserve the grape’s delicate aromas and vibrant acidity.

Flavours and Aromas

Ortega wine from the Cowichan Valley exhibits a wonderful array of flavours and aromas. Its cultivation and the use of stainless steel tanks or oak barrels during fermentation and aging further influences the wine’s flavour profile.

On the nose, it entices with hints of ripe peaches and apricots, intertwined with delicate floral aromas. Ortega wines are known for their floral bouquet, with notes of white flowers, jasmine, and orange blossom.

On the palate, Ortega wines often exhibit flavours of stone fruit like peach and apricot, along with hints of tropical fruit like pineapple and mango accompanied by citrus undertones. The harmonious blend and balance of flavours, vibrant acidity, and subtle sweetness makes Cowichan Valley Ortega wine incredibly refreshing and enjoyable, particularly on our warm summer days.

Cowichan Valley Ortega Wine

The Cowichan Valley has emerged as a significant player in the Canadian wine industry, and its role in Ortega wine production is no exception. The region’s commitment to sustainable practices, its unique microclimate, and the expertise of its winemakers have contributed to the success and recognition of the Valley’s Ortega wines.

At the Enrico Winery Ortega is the best-selling wine they produce. Lorin Inglis, General Manager of the Winery has said, “Ortega is the signature white grape of the Cowichan Valley. It talks about the Cowichan Valley. And each winemaker has their own twist on Ortega.”

In recent years, Cowichan Valley Ortega wine has received numerous accolades and awards at international wine competitions, garnering attention both locally and abroad. Its exceptional quality and distinct characteristics have helped focus the attention of wine enthusiasts from around the world and have placed the region firmly on the map of Canadian wine destinations. Cowichan Valley Ortega wines have become a highly sought after taste experience.

Food Pairing

Ortega wine’s versatility makes it the perfect partner for a wide range of dishes. Its vibrant acidity and fruity notes create an excellent match for fresh seafood, especially shellfish like oysters and prawns. Bring out the salmon or Dungeness crab, a treat for your palate!

The wine’s aromatic profile and subtle sweetness also make it an excellent accompaniment to spicy Asian cuisine, where it can balance the heat and enhance the flavours. Additionally, Ortega wine can be enjoyed as an aperitif or paired with light salads, soft cheeses, and fruit-based desserts.


Ortega wine has gained significant popularity among wine enthusiasts. Its aromatic profile and refreshing nature make it a fantastic and light alternative to heavier wines.

Ortega wine has found its home in the picturesque Cowichan Valley, where the grape thrives amidst the region’s cool climate and fertile soils. The dedication of local winemakers has resulted in exceptional Ortega wines that showcase the best of Canadian winemaking.

Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or an adventurous enthusiast, a journey through the Cowichan Valley’s Ortega wine offerings is sure to captivate your senses. So, raise a glass of Ortega wine and celebrate the remarkable flavours, breathtaking landscapes, and the passionate winemakers who have turned this Cowichan Valley gem into a feast for the senses and palate.