Selkie in a Bottle

Dear Jost Vineyards –

My wife and I were in the liquor store last night, here in Halifax, looking for some wine for the weekend.

All right, so I’m lying right off the bat. I was looking for beer – SHE was looking for wine.

She spotted a tall display of your brand new Selkie Wine.

“Oh,” I said. “That looks good.”

It DID look good, too. My wife and I have enjoyed Jost wine in the past – even though I am a beer drinker by preference. And we ALWAYS enjoy shopping from and supporting local industries.

“It DOES look good,” my wife said. “But I’m not buying it.”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Take a look at the label.”

So I did – fully expecting to see some foul additive that my wife might be allergic to. Only there were no additives. There was something worse.

Jost – you goofed up big time.

The name – Selkie – is a perfect name for a summer wine. Just looking at that name makes me think of something deep and mysterious, yet as refreshing as a splash of ocean mist. I can smell the tang of an Atlantic morning, I can hear seabirds calling – heck, the name gets me so darned excited that I briefly consider forswearing my allegiance to the noble ale and converting to wine.

Only briefly, you understand.

Because Jost – you goofed up big time.

The Selkie is a favorite mythological sea creature of mine – so much so that I have included it in THREE of my folklore collections.

It isn’t a commonly known myth and I absolutely LOVE that you folks are giving the old story a new life by naming your undoubtedly tasty wine after it.

But WHY – after coming up with so wonderful a name as Selkie did you go and put a MERMAID on the label?

JOST_SELKIE_Glass_600Okay – so I can hear you rolling your eyes right now, Jost.

I know that you are thinking Steve Vernon is being a picky old sock – but I deal in folklore and legends of the Maritimes – and what I am looking at is a serious misrepresentation.

I don’t hold it against you folks. I still you think the Jost Vineyards make a darn fine product and are a credit to the Maritimes – even if you don’t make beer.


And I likewise admire the artistry of the label design – and I can clearly see some graphic designer put some world-class effort into coming up with your label – but I really wish you would consider going back to the drawing board over the winter and coming up with an equally spiffy label for your Selkie Wine that actually has a for-real honest-to-golly Selkie on it – and NOT a mermaid.

A mermaid has that big fish tail – like you show you on the bottle.

A Selkie is a seal creature and does not look a bit like a mermaid.

Here’s a couple of illustrations from my children’s picture book MARITIME MONSTERS (Nimbus Publishing 2009) to give you a little bit better of an idea of the two mythological creatures.

This is a Mermaid!

This is a SELKIE!

This is a SELKIE!

Both of those illustrations are the work of talented BC artist Jeff Solway– and, as mentioned, come from my children’s picture book Maritime Monsters.

Maritime Monsters

Finally – I am NOT suggesting to anyone that they stop drinking Jost Wine. This just isn’t that big of a deal. All of us Nova Scotia folk ought to support our local industries any way we can – ESPECIALLY if it involves imbibing alcoholic beverages.


yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


8 responses to “Selkie in a Bottle

  1. Steve, I hope you sent this blog post to Jost Winery. If not …
    This is a good post, one they should read. 🙂


  2. A lot of people think that selkies are mermaids. I love mythology and folklore. When I saw your blog title I immediately followed it. I will actually be releasing me first novel next month entitle Selima and the Merfolk. I’ve always wanted to write that book… can’t wait for it to be out.


  3. Steve I totally agree. I hate when stuff like this happens. Just a little bit of research and they would have known better, and honestly wouldn’t a naked woman on the bottle sell more?


    • I hear you Kristine. They’re a good company, and their promo material clearly indicates that somebody DID actually read up on what a Selkie was – but the label designer clearly fell in love with the unique curlicue symmetry of the Mermaid.

      I expect I’ll hear back from the company by Monday or Tuesday. I’ll be interested what their reply will be.


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