A visit to Deep Cove Winery is worthwhile for so many reasons and is a definite must for any wine lover’s bucket list. The stunning drive out to the winery, located in the Deep Cove community of North Saanich, is a pleasure in itself. Once there, you are bound to enjoy your time at the winery, along with the opportunity to meet the wonderful owners and hosts, Elyse and Tasem Ramadan.
This beautiful three-acre wine estate had its origin as Chalet Estate Vineyard, eventually morphing into Muse Winery which then closed in 2015. When Elyse and Tasem first became aware that the winery was on the market, they were intrigued. They visited the property several times and became more and more aware of its potential.
Those dreams turned into reality when they purchased the winery in 2017. After renovating and improving the venue, they opened their doors as Deep Cove Winery in 2018. In addition to creating a beautiful outdoor terrace, considerable effort has gone into transforming all the interior and exterior spaces. Visitors will be impressed by the beautiful sit-up bar featuring a chiselled-edge marble counter, which was quarried and milled here on Vancouver Island. The cozy inside seating areas are perfect for relaxing while sampling a wonderful selection of wines. Locally sourced cheese and meat charcuterie boards are the perfect accompaniment to a tasting.
An interview with Elyse and Tasem quickly reveals their charm as a husband and wife team, as well as their passion and vision for this winery. Their path to this industry has been filled with serendipitous events, including the story of how they met. They both laugh as they tell this story.
“We actually met online when we were 12!” Elyse says. “I lived in Toronto and Tasem was from New York.”
Their friendship continued to flourish over the years, as they communicated online and through letters. It wasn’t until they were both 21, and Elyse was living in Victoria, that they finally met for the first time. In addition to both completing university degrees (Elyse in psychiatric nursing and Tasem in biochemistry) they are also the proud parents of three children, aged 11, 6, and 10 months. They live on the property and find great fulfillment and enjoyment in their work as a husband and wife team.
Elyse loves the fact that “people are happy when they come here. Whenever the door opens, people are smiling. In a world that’s so depressing, it’s just so nice to work in this environment.” With a smile and a wink, she also adds, “we’re lucky… and maybe I also like working with my husband.”
“It’s a good place for expression” Tasem says, “from winemaking to creating this; it keeps changing every year and it never gets stale. It keeps you on your feet, it keeps you fresh, problem solving, as new things come into play every single day. It has helped us to complement each other.”
Tasem’s background in biochemistry has definitely been an asset. He also credits his time at Victoria Distillers, where he volunteered for a year, as having shaped his knowledge and passion for the industry. They are proud of what they have accomplished so far at Deep Cove Winery and envision more growth in the future.
Not surprisingly, COVID-19 has made business challenging over the past year, and Elyse and Tasem have had to adjust to the reality of the restrictions brought on by the pandemic: “It really got us on our feet. We had to be very adaptable. We put up our online store last February and did our own deliveries as well. We wanted to make sure everyone was safe but had to carry on business as well.” While the tasting room stayed closed until June, they reopened last July to much success, especially as visitors were able to take advantage of their beautiful outdoor terrace. They also hosted some live jazz nights, taking great care to ensure that tables were socially distanced. These live music events were very popular and sold out each time. Due to the more stringent restrictions that came out in November of 2020, they have been unable to host these jazz events but are hoping to have them in place again for the upcoming 2021 summer.
Deep Cove Winery produces four varieties of wines: Ortega, Pinot Gris, Marechal Foch & Schönburger. In addition to the grapes grown on their three-acre site, they also bring in grapes from the Okanagan Valley. All the wine is aged and bottled on-site. Elyse and Tasem are always excited to welcome visitors to the winery and believe they offer a “unique, luxurious space where you can learn about the craft, enjoy premium wines, and gather with a vibrant community of wine lovers.”
Located at 11195 Chalet Rd. in North Saanich, a visit to this local winery is worth both the scenic drive and the experience to sample some of Vancouver Island’s finest wines. Once COVID restrictions are eased, the spacious reception room that seats up to 80 people will be available for weddings or other events. At present, the winery and lounge are open from Friday to Sunday, but plans to extend hours and expand the lounge menu will be forthcoming later this spring or summer. It is also hoped that live jazz events will be back again, so stay tuned for more great options.
“Our passion at Deep Cove Winery is to create premium wines and use our craft to bring people together, create a stronger sense of community, and share the experience with the world.”
Elyse & Tasem Ramadan
Address: 11195 Chalet Rd, Saanich