Meet the Maker: Rathjen Cellars

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It all started in a basement in Fernwood, where Mike Rathjen experimented with fermentation in his humble little “Wine bunker.” In 2016, Mike had outgrown the Bunker, so with the help of his business partner Colin Mann, he took over the historic Babe's Honey property in the Oldfield Valley which had fallen into disrepair and worked to bring the land back to health and production. The fields were contoured and amended with topsoil and compost in preparation for plantings of Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Muscat, Zweigelt and Pinot Noir, along with orchard trees and black currants destined for cider and Crème de Cassis. The old honey warehouse underwent extensive renovations to be converted it into a new winery and tasting room, which officially opened to the public in the spring of 2018.

Rathjen Cellars is a farm-based winery on the Saanich Peninsula specializing in low intervention wines and cider from 100% Vancouver Island fruit fermented with wild yeasts. Mike is part of a new wave of winegrowers on Vancouver Island with a goal to continue the exploration of this emerging wine region while making accessible wines (and ciders) that pair beautifully with our local foods. He draws on inspiration from old world traditions of sustainable farming practices and minimal intervention in the cellar to create wines that truly reflect our unique coastal climate.

 
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A rustic blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay, Dornfelder, and Foch from Saanich and the Cowichan Valley. This is a fruit forward wine with notes of cherries, plums, and blackberries backed up by fresh acidity and ripe but smooth tannins. This wine makes for a great pairing with pot roast or BBQ salmon.

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An Alsace-inspired field blend of Ortega, Schönberger, Pinot Gris, and Auxerrois that packs an aromatic punch of orchard fruit and flowers. With crisp lemony acidity and saline minerality, this wine is the perfect match for oysters and warm summer evenings.

 
 
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Taking cues from Burgundy, this is a blend of Gamay and Pinot Noir that bursts with strawberry and red current fruit. Totally refreshing and made for picnics, garden parties, and backyard BBQs.