July 18th, 2020 Rathjen Cellars. Jim Cuddy Wines. Moon Curser, The  Best Small Winery on Canada

Rathjen Cellars. Jim Cuddy Wines. Moon Curser, The  Best Small Winery in Canada



In addition to planting their own vineyard in 2016, Mike Rathjen leases five other established vineyards on the Saanich Peninsula, all of which provided grapes to former wineries in the area. Mike is honoured to work with some of the oldest vineyards on Vancouver Island and he’s  excited with the quality of wine coming from these vines.

Mike Rathjen moved to Vancouver Island in 2011 with a passion for wine, farming and food culture. Over the next five years he honed his winemaking skills in his basement (AKA the ‘Wine Bunker’) while building relationships in the local farming community.

Together with his friend and business partner Colin Mann, Mike founded Rathjen Cellars in 2016 with a business model based off leased farmland and a focus on supporting the local food system.

Mike prefers the title ‘winegrower’—seeking to diminish the variable of winemaking to allow further exploration and expression of Vancouver Island as an emerging wine region.

Rathjen Cellars source all of their fruit from six vineyards on the Saanich Peninsula and two vineyards in the Cowichan Valley.


I’ve always been impressed with the wines I’ve tasted from Mike and I think you will be too!  Tasting and talking about their Auxerrois, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir.  Yum.


Jim Cuddy – Cuddy Wines by Tawse

Paul Pender – Tawse Winemaker

Jim Cuddy does not like Rosé !

Jim Cuddy

But he basically likes everything else.

As you know, Jim is the co-writer and co-singer with Blue Rodeo, The leader of the Jim Cuddy Band and recipient of The Order of Canada.

When he decided to put his name on a wine bottle he was smart enough to partner with one of the very best names in Canadian wine. Tawse Wines.

Jim Cuddy at Tawse

They’ve release a Chardonnay, Cab/Merlot and Sparkling Riesling. No Rosé .

We talk about that and other wines. AND we also talk to his winemaker Paul Pender.





Chris Tolley – Co-Owner/Co-Winemaker Moon Curser Wines.

Moon Curser won the 2019 Wine Align Best Small performing Winery in Canada.


Moon Curser – Best Small Winery in Canada

At the end of the competition, the winery walked away with several medals led by a Platinum for its remarkable ode to the Douro Valley, the 2017 Touriga Nacional. They followed that up with six gold medals for a 2015 Tannat, think Uruguay; 2018 Dolcetto, that’s Italy; a 2017 Malbec, that’s Argentina; a 2017 Tempranillo, a nod to Spain; a 2017 Petit Verdot a classic from Bordeaux; and one final gold for a 2017 Dead of Night, a blend of Syrah and Tannat.


“Well, you get the picture, this is one very different producer, and in many ways, a poster child for what we always hoped would be the kind of innovative, family estate winery that would grab the title of the Best Performing Small Winery in Canada.

All that is left for you to do is try the wine and eventually visit the winery to experience what the Tolleys did when they first got into the business, something new and intriguing and most of all different.”

Anthony Gismondi – Co-Head Judge


Moon Curser’s Medal Winning Wines


Moon Curser 2017 Touriga Nacional, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia


Moon Curser 2015 Tannat, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Moon Curser 2018 Dolcetto, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Moon Curser 2017 Malbec, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Moon Curser 2017 Dead of Night, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Moon Curser 2017 Tempranillo, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Moon Curser 2017 Petit Verdot, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia


Moon Curser 2017 Carmenere, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Moon Curser 2018 Arneis, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia


Moon Curser 2017 Syrah, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

Moon Curser 2018 Afraid of the Dark, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia


In 2006 they opened the doors to Moon Curser..except, at the time it was called Twisted Tree.

Rebranding brought the name Moon Curser.

The location has always been the same..very close to being the last winery in BC..right at the USA  border.

I had already done an interview with Chris when the awards were handed out..so here’s the update from Chris and the whole interview before they won the award.

Congratulations to Chris and Beata Tolley

Moon Curser Wines




Jay Drysdale – Bella Bubble

The Cowichan Wine Festival 2020

Kathy Malone – Hillside

Lock and Worth

Chef Ned Bell – Naramata Inn

Hester Creek.


Winemakers Cut

Abul Adame – The Kitchen