On the second morning of our Girls Island Getaway from Vancouver, we made up our own schedule before heading to our next appointment. It’s fortunate that we did since it gave us time to explore Little Qualicum Cheeseworks and sample some tasty Morningstar Creek Wines.
Located in Parksville, BC the farm has been around for over a century however it wasn’t until artisan cheesemakers Clarke and Nancy Gourlay moved to Morningstar in 2004 (after making cheese since 2001) that it became Little Qualicum.
Little Qualicum Cheeseworks is also home to a slice of local history, featuring Lowry’s cabin at its entrance. This 120-year old homestead was the home of pioneer and blacksmith, Jim Lowry and is also featured on their cheese labels.
More and more people want to “see where their food comes from,” said winemaker Phil Charlebois as he led us on an impromptu tour of the Morningstar Farm. It’s a saying I first heard while doing the Circle Farm Tour in Harrison & Agassiz and something that is truly helping locals and visitors alike experience delicious farm fresh offerings.
Throughout the farm they have also created a fun experience for visitors, where you can peer in on the cheesemaking room, grab an Island Farms ice cream, giggle at their punny signage, visit with goats, or take a 30 minute trail walk around the property to truly soak in the area’s beauty.
We ran into some piglets in the barns as well but it’s best not to get too attached since Little Qualicum also sells bacon and pork products in their on-site store. However, being SPCA Certified, at least they’ll have a fine life in the shadowy valley of Mt Arrowsmith before making it to your plate. The farm also has Environmental Partner Certification, produces Canadian Quality Milk, and offers Verified Beef.
After our walk around the grounds (you can also pick up a handy self-guided tour map) we went into the shop to sample some cheese and do some wine tastings. There are cheese curds, feta, spiced creations, and fromage frais – perfect for spreading on a toasty bagel. If you shop at Capers or Whole Foods you may have been lucky enough to pick up some Artisan or Brie varieties from Little Qualicum Cheeseworks. These award-winning selections come directly from this working dairy farm that milks 50 cows, when they’re not out in the pasture. Almost 50% of the cheese produced by Little Qualicum is Brie, since it’s by far their best-seller.
We had some berry wine samples from Morningstar Creek Winery and I walked away with a bottle of their gooseberry wine (which was not too tart and not to sweet).
Morningstar Farm is located off Lowry Rd next to a truffle farm, which makes me wonder if they would benefit from creating an Oceanside Circle Farm Tour in the area. Being such a gem, I’m sure many wish they could keep the delicious offerings of Little Qualicum as their little secret, but something this good just absolutely deserves to be in the limelight.