By Peter Karsten, As published in the Islands Grapevine, April 25, 2019
The Corlan Vineyard registered an astonishing accomplishment by capturing top prizes for two wines produced by Selwyn and Pat Jones on Denman Island. Their Marechal Foch Red and their Blackberry Dessert Wine competed with close to 3000 wines from 19 countries and won SILVER. Countries included the giants among wine producers like Italy and Spain who have made wine for some 6000 years. Congratulations Selwyn and Pat!
“The World Class Competition for a World Class Cause” is conducted by the Finger Lake Wine Competition. It is one of America’s largest charitable wine competitions. Over 50 judges: Masters of Wine, Masters of Sommeliers, wine educators, wine journalist, wine makers and other internationally certified wine judges from around the world converge each year in Rochester, NY to evaluate and award thousands of internationally crafted wines and spirits.
This is accomplished in Pat serving award winning wine two days of blind analysis and competition.
The competition benefits the “Camp Good Days and Special Times”, an organization dedicated to provide summer camps and programs free of charge for children and families affected by cancer.
In March 2019 the Jones shipped 4 bottles of the winning wine to a collection point in Ontario from where it went to Rochester, NY. The competition was held on April 13 -14, 2019. On April 20th Pat scanned the competition results in the website: http://www.fliwc-cgd.com. I met her selling the wines at the Denman Saturday Market that day and Pat was practically in orbit with joy and a deep sense of satisfaction.
Come to think of it, it is hard to comprehend to beat out the world wine makers with wine in not one but two categories. These wines harvested in 2016 and bottled in 2017 are made from certified organic grapes and free of preserving sulfites, but they evidently arrived in top condition despite long travel, ambient temperature fluctuations and a lot of handling. Selwyn and Pat puts us Denman Islanders on the map and makes us proud.
Selwyn and Pat arrived on Denman Island in February 2006. They cleared the land and fenced it to start their vineyard in 2008 by preparing and rooting 4000+ cuttings from grape vine prunings which they collected at a Saanich, B.C. vineyard. Recycling at its best. Their search for excellent grapes continued and continues. My favoured white is the “Siegerrebe” and the Blackberry Dessert Wine, which I call the Port wine of Denman – simply exquisite! Selwyn and Pat sell their fine wines at the Saturday Market in Qualicum and on Denman respectively, but also on location at 8441 McFarlane Road.
You may wonder why the place is called “Corlan Vineyard and Farm and why Clun Forest Sheep are grazing in the pasture. This is where Selwyn’s roots shine through the ground as a proud Welshman who brought the word corlan and the sheep here. The breed was first mentioned when the Rev. Joseph Plymley noted in 1803 that these forest sheep in the hill of Wales had white faces and no horns. Later dark face breeds contributed the dark faces which are typical for the Clun Forest Sheep of today. After the Second World War the Clun Forest Sheep became the most numerous purebred in Britain. They were imported to Nova Scotia in 1970. The sheep is known for its hardiness, long life, easy lambing, fertility and good mothering traits.
A ‘corlan’ is a circular sheep fold made of rocks and boulders similar to corral. The word is so Welsh it does not come up on the internet. Only if you add sheep fold and then Corlan vine-yard on Denman pops up. Reacting to his Welsh accent Selwyn’s friends sometimes tease him to speak English especially when he pulls their leg with a twinkle in this eye. He is a friendly spoken man who loves to laugh and look at the bright side of life. He seemingly can do anything – a renaissance man.
Pat loves people and lively conversation. She has a remarkable range of skills of any-thing imaginable that needs to be done on the farm, around the house, in the office, running the saw mill and enormous size machinery but also for the winemaking, of course. Today she was on the roof sweeping the chimney. They also run some 70 chickens to produce certified organic eggs for sale. A sign on the road regularly says “wine tasting room open” and visitors are always met with a warm welcome despite the interruption this must mean to do the endless chores. I worked for 10 years on farms and ranches (without making award winning wine) before I found my dream job with wild animals and have a good idea what it takes to manage a farm like theirs. Dedicated, hard and smart work with long days day in day out. The SILVER awards are well deserved.