New Heights for Vancouver Island Pinot

Rathjen Cellars achieves Vancouver Island's first ever Platinum medal at the WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada
November 25, 2021
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Earlier this month, Vancouver Island achieved its first ever Platinum medal at the WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada. It was the 20th annual competition with over 2000 wines entered from 260 wineries coast to coast. To win a Platinum means the wine was rated 93 points or better and was in the top 1% of all the wines entered. 

What was this Platinum winning wine you ask? Our 2018 Saison Vineyard Pinot Noir! We are humbled, honoured and blown away that our little Island Pinot showed so well at the Nationals (garnering 94 points.) We knew this was a special wine, but to get this level of national recognition confirms something very special is happening here as an emerging wine region.

We’re approaching the 30-year mark of what you could call the ‘experiment’ of growing wine grapes on Vancouver Island. What we’re seeing here is the emergence of a new ‘terroir’ where after many years of trial and error it’s apparent some things are really working. Pinot Noir dry-farmed on Saison’s gravelly site in the Cowichan Valley (pictured above) is one exciting example. Pinot Gris coming from this same vineyard is another—our 2019 Saison Vineyard Pinot Gris picked up a Gold at this year’s Nationals with 92 points.


At Rathjen Cellars we employ simple techniques and minimal intervention in the cellar to showcase the purest expression of the vineyard and variety. Much of the credit for this achievement needs to go to the fine folks who grow these beautiful grapes we get to work with… Fredéric and Ingrid at Saison Vineyard in the Cowichan Valley.

If you missed out (or already enjoyed) our Platinum 2018 Pinot Noir and Gold 2019 Pinot Gris, we are pleased to announce that we have just released the next vintages of our Saison Vineyard wines. They haven't met the gauntlet of NWAC judges yet, but we feel they are very much of the same pedigree as our previous vintages. Theses two wines are available immediately through our online store and at our Christmas Open House weekends in December.

We are so thankful to those crazy pioneers who thought to try growing wine grapes on Vancouver Island 30 years ago. We now get to stand on their shoulders doing our part to nudge the bar of wine quality forward in this region.


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