Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Corlan Vineyard’s owners, Pat and Selwyn Jones
Small But Proud Gulf Island Wineries.It is not easy to start and operate a winery or cidery on an Island. Yet a number of hard-working individuals have chosen to do so.

The Gulf Islands are located between Vancouver Island and the lower British Columbia mainland in the Salish Sea. There are 12 islands located in the Southern end of Georgia straight. Eight of which are considered to be inhabited. Seven have wineries. Saturna Island has a vineyard but no winery.

Lasqueti Island with a population of fewer than 450 people is located in Georgia Straight north of the Gulf Islands. It has a winery called Old McDonald's Farm. The owners are Mike Mudy and Cindy Craven.

The largest and most populated Island is Salt Spring Island. It has three wineries Two are well established Gary Oaks and Salt Spring Island. In 1999 Marcel Mercier and Elaine Kozak purchased 100 acres on the Island and started Gary Oaks winery. In 2016 they retired selling the winery to Naline Samuel.

Joane and Devlin McIntyre found Salt spring Vineyards in 2008. Paul Troop is the winemaker. Since the island is a busy tourist community the winery is kept busy.

Mistaken Identity was among the original wineries but closed and later sold becoming Kutatas Wines.

Perhaps the most successful winey is Sea Star Estate Farm Winery and Vineyards. They are located on Pender Island. Pender is a popular summer retreat. 

Now we come to the wineries you may never have heard about.

Chateau Beaufort Vineyards Noble Wines is located on Denman Island. The winery is owned by Max Campellde Wedges and Linda Elgert. They started by growing Maréchal Foch at their Vancouver home before moving to Denman in 2006.

The first winery on Deman was Corland Vineyards planting starting in 2006. The winery is owned by Pat and Selwyn Jones. Selwyan moved from Britain to Vancouver Island in 1980. After working for the government in Forest restoring he started Sylvan Vale Nursery. Here he grew and sold grape vines before moving to Denman.

On Thetis one of the smaller Islands is Domaine Jasmin owned by Denis Gagnon. Vines were first planed in 2006 after two years of clearing the land. Sadly we believe the winery is now closed.

On Quadra Island is Southend Farm Vineyards. The winery is owned by  Ben McGuffie and Jill Ogasawara. 2011 was their first estate harvest from their own vineyard. They grow Ortega and Dornfelder.

Gabriola Island a short distance from Nanaimo is home to Ravenskill Orchards. Under Ravenskill is Gabriolia Cider. The orchard has over 1,000 trees across two acres, with 25 different varieties of apples. The owners are Keith and Marti MacKenzie. 

Hornby Island Island has about 1060 residents. Hornby Island also has more parks than any other Gulf Island including Helliwell Provincial Park, Big Tribune Provincial Park, Mount Geoffrey Regional Park and Fords Cove Marina. They have ( or had)  three wineries, Hornby Island Winery, Little Tribune Farm and Vineyard and Isla de Lerena. 

Isla de Lerne is the smallest winery catering to the many campers that visit the Island. The owner is Phil Davie. Recently they have added pizzas. They are open daily.

Hornby Island since 1999 the founders and owners, John Grayson and Joan Costello have been producing delicious fruit wines. ports and sherry made with local fruits and berries. 

Little Tribune has closed once again confirming the difficulties of operating a winery on a small island. It reminds you that before success often comes failure. Despite the hard work and passion, some changes can not be overcome.

Paul Nursey, the CEO of Destination Greater Victoria, says the Island's tourism industry was the first to be affected by the COVID-19-induced slump, and will likely be the last to fully recover. 

Working a winery is not the easiest task nor the most profitable especially when your small and working in a region not known for its wines fighting for any market share you can get. The COVID-19 pandemic has also amplified the problem, as many businesses on the Southern Gulf Islands have been hit incredibly hard due to a massive drop in tourism this past summer. 

We tip our hats to the men and women of the Gulf Island Wineries.

Monday, March 15, 2021

 They Call The Wind Maria

Saturday was a lovely sunny day in the lower mainland of British Columbia. We had high hopes for Sunday. Sunday was our dear friends Ken's birthday. Following Dr Henry guideline we could celebrate the event outdoors in Ken and Jane's backyard.

Sadly the day would turn out to provide the worst weather in weeks.  A cold wet windy day. The wind reminded me of the song They Call the Wind Maria. How were we going to celebrate the day and yet stay within the guidelines?

The wind was not really strong enough to call it Maria but it was cold. The solution hold the small party in the garage with the door open.

Ken backed his classic Beaumont out of the garage for the event.  Tables and chairs were set up. The wine bottles arranged along the garage shelf. We were all set.

We started the celebration off by presenting Ken with his gift. A bottle of fortified wine Tribute from Chaberton Winery. Barbara and I had recently visited the winery and tasted this amazing port-style wine.

For those who prefered red Jane and Ken provided a very nice 2017 Interurban Cabernet Foch from Seaside Pearl. I was the only one preferring White. I enjoyed the Secret Society from Black Market winery.

Jane provided a hot Crack Dip appie made with cream cheese, ranch dressing, sour cream, bacon bits and green onions. It was indeed good!. There were asl cheese and crackers.

We finished off the event with coffee and Wonder Balls. 

Despite the cold, the rain and the wind it was a memorable and successful birthday party for 4. 

Monday just like Saturday was a beautiful Sunny day.