Employees’ New Raspberry Dessert Wine Among Corlan Vineyard’s Gold Medal Winners

It takes know-how, patience, and hard work to build a successful micro-winery. These qualities, along with an incredibly supportive wine-loving community, helped Denman Island’s Corlan Vineyard to rack up seven awards for their To Ewe organic wines – in just five years of winemaking.

“We’re small, and new, and in such a tiny corner of the world, that these awards are so unexpected,” say Corlan Vineyard owners, farmers, and vintners Pat and Selwyn Jones. “It’s a validation that our process of no intervention – no irrigation or tannins or additives – was the right way to go. And with all the local support, encouragement and harvest volunteers, it feels like a win for the whole island.”

The Dream Team

They credit vineyard staff, Jayne and Caitlin Fogarty, for the most recent gold medal awarded to the new To Ewe Raspberry Dessert wine at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in Rochester, New York.

Caitlin (left) and Jayne Fogarty were ecstatic to find out the raspberry dessert wine that they suggested and helped to make at Corlan Vineyard won a gold medal at the Finer Lakes International wine competition in Rochester, New York.

Pat calls the mother-daughter duo her ‘dream team’, as the pair assist in all aspects of the farm and winery year-round. Jayne serves customers in the tasting room and helps out in the vineyard; Caitlin is a ‘Jill-of-all-trades’, assisting with vineyard maintenance, but also running the heavy equipment and diving into building and cement  projects, learning as she goes.

‘Jill of all trades’ Caitlin Fogarty helps with the grape harvest at Corlan Vineyard in 2019.

It was Jayne who said, “I bet if you made a raspberry dessert wine, it would be great!”

The Joneses encouraged them to produce it and now Jayne and Caitlin can add the title of vintner to their job descriptions.

“I couldn’t quite believe it,” said Jayne of the win. “It was pretty exciting for us. We were all ecstatic. To me, raspberry just tastes like summer, and it seems like we hit the mark.”

Corlan Vineyard’s To Ewe 2019 Raspberry Dessert wine won a Gold Medal at the 2020 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition in Rochester, New York.

“We all actually took part in making it,” she adds. “And Pat is a dream boss too – she’s just wonderful to work for!”

Corlan Vineyard is a source of pride for many Denman residents, mirroring the culture of the island: thriving volunteerism, environmentalism, sustainability, and organic practices.

“What’s really so very nice is that people are genuinely pleased for us. They are proud of a local business’ success. There is so much support – it’s amazing!” says Pat.

Many locals do more than enjoy the wine. Every Fall more than 40 volunteers come out to harvest the grapes at ‘picking parties’ and enjoy a harvest meal together in the Joneses home. This year, the pandemic means the harvest may look different, with smaller groups and an outdoor meal.

Volunteers help with the grape harvest at gather at Corlan Vineyard.
Volunteers gather for a meal at Corlan Vineyard after a grape harvest in 2019.
Volunteer harvesters raise their glasses to Pat & Selwyn Jones at the harvest lunch at Corlan Vineyard in 2019.

Sustainable, organic, vegan practices are win-win

Since the first batch in 2015, the five-acre vineyard produces about 500 cases of red, white, and dessert wines each year using sustainable, organic and vegan practices. They don’t add sulfites (a preservative), and while some wineries use non-vegan filtering or clearing practices, Corlan Vineyard cold-stabilizes its white wines and uses racking as their clearing tool.

Weed control is a combination of a ‘weed badger’ on the tractor during the growing season, and a flock of Clun Forest Sheep grazing between the rows the rest of the year. The grapes are ‘dry-farmed’, meaning they don’t irrigate the vines so are not impacting the island’s limited fresh water supply.

A flock of Clun Forest Sheep are natural weedeaters at Corlan Vineyard on Denman Island.

These sustainable practices produce certified 100% organic fruit that is more concentrated says Pat.

“The fruit is smaller, and we don’t get the tonnage that we could get if we had larger fruit, but we think we get more flavour.”

International wine critics and judges agree.

Their Chrome Island Red received a gold medal in 2020 at the International Biowine Prize in Germany, one of the most crucial quality contests for organic wines; and for the second year, won a Silver Medal at the Finger Lakes competition. Made from Maréchal Foch grapes and named for the lighthouse island at the South end of Denman Island, the full-bodied red is currently sold out, but you can expect the 2018 vintage to be available by the end of September 2020.

The Sandy Island White – from the estate’s Ortega grapevines, and described as a crisp, aromatic wine with citrus overtones – also won gold at the International Biowine Prize.  

On target to sell out again

The pandemic has not slowed Corlan Vineyard’s success. They are on target to sell out again this year.

But you won’t find To Ewe wines at the liquor store. Pat says it is a complex and cost-prohibitive process, and in fact, they sell out of their 500 cases of wine each year from the winery at 8441 MacFarlane Road, Denman Island, and from the farmers’ market stands. On Saturday mornings you’ll find Pat at the Denman Island Farmer’s Market and Selwyn at the Qualicum Beach Farmer’s Market.

“One of the things we love is that we get to meet almost every person who buys our wine,” says Pat.

Affordably priced from $18 for the white to $25 for the dessert wines. See the website corlanvineyard.ca for more information and follow them on Facebook @corlanvineyard.

The Tasting Room is open with Covid-19 protocols including sanitizer, limiting the number of guests, and taking contact information. And although they have stopped the lunches in the lounge since March, Pat plans to provide small pre-booked dinners this Fall.

“I like every aspect of this life,” Pat says, “the farm work, the animals, making wine, interacting with customers.”

Pat & Selwyn Jones, Corlan Vineyard owners, farmers and vintners of award winning wines made from organic grapes on Denman Island!

Although Pat and Selwyn would continue growing grapes and making wine for the sheer love of creating something, the official approval represented by the awards do mean a lot to them.

And yet, they find that it is the love, acceptance and enthusiasm from Denman Islanders that has been one of the best rewards.

Corlan Vineyard’s To Ewe wine awards:

Written by  Trish Weatherall
Published in The Islands Grapevine, September 3, 2020

Corlan Vineyard Wins Gold in Germany!

by Peter Karsten

The smallest organic vineyard around has done it again!

After winning Silver in New York State last year Pat Jones of Corlan Vineyard has won Gold in Germany with her Sandy Island White blend of Ortega and Siegerrebe and Gold with the Chrome Island Red – Maréchal Foch grapes.

This time Pat submitted wines to the big league in Europe. Germany stages the “International Biowine Prize” and uses a sophisticated PAR evaluation system of judging. It is known as the most crucial quality contest of organically grown wines. The tests are done as blind tests.  Each wine is individually evaluated by a jury that consists of “PAR certified Masters” working in groups of three. The method produces reproducible results to eliminate subjectivity.

The evaluation has 24 parameters judged under Analysis – intensity assessment and Ranking – quality assessment, Stylistic and Exaltation. Total points are calculated to 100. Wines under 55 points are not awarded. The submitting winery receives detailed evaluation results plotted on a graph were each parameter is given points.I like the category Exaltation meaning: elevation of happiness and importance. Corlan’s Maréchal Foch (Chrome Island Red) got 10 out of 10 in that category!

I like the category Exaltation meaning: elevation of happiness and importance. Corlan’s Maréchal Foch got 10 out of ten in that category! Just what we needed at COVID19 times.

The Ortega /Siegerrebe got high marks for intensity of flavour and Length-finish. The Germans call it “Schwaenzchen” (little tail) indicating that the flavour pleases the pallet for an extended long time.

To earn a Gold medal the wine must reach over 90 points. Gold-winning wines are described as: “First class wines, internationally outstanding, which belong to the most impressive of their kind. A distinct and substantial concentration of senso-active substances, absolutely pure colour tone and distinctive characteristics are present.” 

The red Chrome Island Maréchal Foch 2017 got 95 points and the Sandy Island Ortega/Siegerebe 2018 fetched 91 points.

Let us raise our glasses to Pat and Selwyn Jones of Corlan Vineyard!

Find Corlan Vineyard’s award-winning To Ewe wines at the Denman Island Farmers’ Market, the Qualicum Farmers’ Market, at our Vineyard on Denman Island, or contact us to order by the case (mixed cases are fine!) Contact Corlan Vineyard

Learn more about To Ewe wines made with organically grown grapes corlanvineyard.ca


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.