Fruits of their labour.
As the saying goes, it takes a village, and winemaking is no exception. Beyond that, it takes dedication, perseverance and hard work. We’re proud to have assembled a team of pros that share an appreciation of terroir, a respect for the unpredictable essence of Mother Nature, and a love for the wines they help create.
Daniel Cosman, Consulting Winemaker
Having grown up on a maple syrup and beef farm in southern Quebec, Daniel was no stranger to agriculture and hard work. Leaving the family farm after graduation, he studied languages and creative arts at Champlain College, then International Development at St. Mary’s University in Halifax.
A spontaneous move to British Columbia in 2005 led Daniel to an apprenticeship at the Fort Wine Company in Langley. He moved to the Cowichan Valley in 2006 where he worked with a number of wineries. And then in 2010, Daniel and his wife Sarah were approached by Tim Turyk – of what was to become Unsworth Vineyards – to help get the project off the ground.
Chef Steve Elskens & Restaurant Manager, Christle Pope
This culinary dream team settled in the Cowichan Valley after 15 years of gastronomic adventures in Belgium, France and Canada. They started Farm’s Gate Foods and Catering here in 2010, bringing their popular food truck to local markets, music festivals, weddings and events around Vancouver Island.
From 5 star rated fine dining to their humble food truck, Chef Steven and Christle now bring their extensive experience and distinct food style to the Unsworth Restaurant, complete with rave reviews.
With a genuine love for what they do and the memories that food and community create around a table, they enjoy building seasonal menus around fresh ingredients from local farmers declaring, “It’s a good day when we can look over our patio at the smiling faces of our guests.”
Chris Turyk, Winery Ambassador
Chris doesn’t tend to do anything halfway, especially when it comes to food and wine. He attended the renowned Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, earning an Associates Degree in Culinary Arts. He followed that by becoming a certified Sommelier, earning his WSET Diploma.
While he’s certainly an accomplished chef, it’s wine that has him by the taste-buds – so much so that he won the 2013 Vancouver Wine Festival Blind Tasting Challenge. Chris was also awarded a BC Hospitality Foundation Scholarship for his contributions to the wine industry, and was recently recognized by Maclean’s magazine as “one to watch.”
Meanwhile, back at Unsworth, when Chris isn’t helping our Winemaker Daniel with blending decisions, or on the tractor in the vineyard, he’s tending to the garden and hen house, which supply herbs, vegetables and eggs to Unsworth Restaurant.
Having spent childhood summers with his family at nearby Shawnigan Lake, Chris’s growing involvement in the family business is a natural fit.
Ron Bogdonov, General Manager
Ron moved to the Cowichan Valley because of the way Pinot Noir expresses itself here. Since moving to Maple Bay from Vancouver in 2012, he and his wife, Penny, have become fully immersed in the area’s rapidly evolving wine sector, agrarian interests, recreational opportunities and wonderful community.
After receiving a BSc from UBC, Ron worked as an environmental biologist for five years before following his aptitude for technology. He started an IT consulting business in Vancouver and grew it over 20 years to service small and large businesses in a variety of sectors. His passion for wine and culinary began in the late 1990’s and compelled him to pursue a WSET Advanced certification and to travel extensively to further his wine knowledge. He has taught a wine course at VIU, sits on the local Slow Food board and loves to share his excitement for wine with anyone willing to listen (or not).
Sarah Chapman, Vineyard Manager
Sarah grew up in Dundas, a small town encompassed by the stunning trails of the Niagara Escarpment in Southern Ontario. In 2008, after completing a BA Specializing in Music at the University of Western Ontario and her third season of tree planting in Northern Alberta, Sarah migrated to Vancouver Island.
Stemming from her great love of nature, Sarah established her company Nature is Ancient Landscaping in the Cowichan Valley and was fortunate to begin caring for the gardens and grounds at Unsworth Vineyards. Sarah completed the Organic Master Gardener program at Gaia College in 2013 and now focuses on managing the vineyard at Unsworth with a sustainable and organic approach. She values the opportunity to learn about sustainable viticulture practices from her mentor Daniel Cosman.
You can often find Sarah in amongst the vines, enjoying her tractor time, or chasing the chickens back into the vineyard.
Dan Wright, Assistant Winemaker
In June of 2012, Dan had the good fortune to spend a month exploring Victoria and its surroundings, including the Cowichan Valley. Dan fell in love with Vancouver Island but he wasn't sure when he would get the chance to return. Skip forward three years...
In 2015, Dan set out on a road trip across Canada. An opportunity presented itself and they jumped at the chance to move to Vancouver Island. Dan has an honours BSc in Biochemistry from University of Guelph and a post-graduate certificate in grape and wine technology from Brock University's Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute. Dan has worked a number of winemaking vintages in a wide variety of cool climate wine growing regions including the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario, Orange of Australia, Marlborough of New Zealand, and the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Dan currently lives in Mill Bay with his wife Alicia.