Each year, volunteers from Denman Island and beyond join Corlan Vineyard owners Pat & Selwyn Jones to pick grapes for To Ewe wines and celebrate the harvest.
During the 2019 harvest of the 100% organic Ortega, Siegerrebe, and Marechal Foch grapes, more than 50 volunteers came out to pick about 6 tons of grapes over two days, and they love doing it!
On a sunny September day, between the vineyard rows you could hear the chatter and laughter of the pickers.
“The vineyard has added a whole new culture to the Island,” says Denman volunteer Peter Karston. “A community feeling of contributing to something.”
The majority are local supporters, but visitors from Courtenay, Port Moody and Germany also joined the harvest this year for a unique experience.
A few years ago, Corlan Vineyard invited volunteers for small picking parties.
“It grew faster than we anticipated, so many volunteers came out, so we needed more than a casual approach,” says Pat.
Ian and Naomi Elliot of Orkney Farms on Denman Island stepped up to assist. Ian helps Pat prepare for the celebration lunch and Naomi manages the pickers.
“It’s a party! It’s the best day of the year,” says volunteer Naomi. “Pat & Selwyn are great role models. They created something out of nothing with their inspiration and vision.”
“Corlan Vineyard is an initiative that’s been really good for the island, it has blessed the island with business and employment,” says Ian. “The harvest is also a gift to the island – we get fresh air, exercise, community and great food and wine.”
After about 4 hours of picking, the volunteers come together at the house for a harvest celebration lunch, featuring home-cooked, locally-sourced food created by Pat, and plenty of To Ewe wines to accompany the meal.
This year, the Marechal Foch after-harvest meal included Corlan’s own organic roast chicken, salmon cakes, butternut squash and lentil-curry soups, homemade Challah and Focacia breads, salads including quinoa-curry, waldorf, green, and arugula-fennel, and tiramisu or phyllo-pear pastry for dessert.
You can enjoy the ambience and great food and wine at Corlan Vineyard too – drop by weekdays for lunch in the lounge between 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. or call to plan a dinner reservation or private event.