Next wine region on your radar to visit? Dão in Portugal, there is a lot of history there with some amazing mountainous landscapes. It has been on my list for a while, but I just haven’t had the chance to visit yet. Some really exciting winemakers both from older and newer generations are recapturing the quality of the past. They are showcasing some of the amazing local grapes other than Touriga Nacional and Encruzado.
Bottle and snack always in your fridge/pantry? I usually have a bottle of Soalheiro’s Alvarinho or Nat Cool’s Baga by Niepoort around. As for snacks I always have a selection of cheese from Les Amis de Fromage and some cured meats from Oyama in the fridge.
If you could have dinner with any winemaker, who would it be? It would definitely be Dirk Niepoort, he is someone that respects tradition, but understands how to push the boundaries and be innovative. He is a pioneer for still wine in the Douro being one the first to champion it when everyone else said he was crazy and should just focus on Port. He has mentored some of the best winemakers in Portugal like Luis Seabra and Carlos Raposo. His influence in the North of Portugal has transcended into different regions like Bairrada and Dão, where he has found the balance of making tradition modern. Niepoort’s wines are elegant, focused, always relevant, and delicious whether it is a Port or still wine.
What does your ideal night off in Vancouver look like? A night off is usually spent at home preparing a nice meal in good company with a lineup of wines to enjoy. I always enjoyed cooking at home but with the current state of things I have definitely embraced it more. I spend a lot more time curating my at home menu and trying different dishes. When I do go out, I like to jump around to different places, usually walking down Main Street on sunny day and stopping at a few spots for a drink or quick bite. If I am downtown My go to place is L’Abattoir I always prefer a seat at the bar and their hospitality is always on point.
Your biggest inspiration in working in wine? The amazing people you meet for sure, whether it be guest, winemakers, or other wine professionals, I’ve been given the opportunity to meet some great people over a glass of wine. Lots of memorable moments have been made traveling to different regions and meeting the people that work so hard for us to enjoy a bottle of some amazing juice.
If you could work at a winery for a year, which would it be? Pierre Peters in Champagne, I really enjoy Blanc de Blancs Sparkling wines and his are some of the best. I would really like to see the challenging process of making great Champagne from the vineyard all the way to the bottle.
Best piece of advice for someone looking to get into wine? Enjoy the learning process it is long and never ending, and don’t be afraid to surround yourself with people that know more than you. I’m a big believer in surrounding yourself with people that you can learn from and will challenge you.
Biggest epiphany during these trying times? Be grateful for what you have and keep building towards what you want. I think the one thing that has been consistent for me this year is the need to continue to challenge myself and not let the current times get in the way of that.
What have you found on your travels that you wish there was more of in Vancouver? More casual drink and snack culture for sure. It is something they’ve mastered in Europe especially in the more Mediterranean cultures. A nice beverage and small plate in the late afternoon on a nice patio is definitely something we can all have more of.
Guilty pleasure wine? I don’t know if I feel guilty about it but, I love a good bottle of bubbles. I think BC has some really well made Sparkling that doesn’t get enough credit. I always, have a bottle of either Blue Mountain, Bella, or Lighting Rock ready to go for any day of the week.
Next wine region on your radar to visit? The Loire Valley - It has always been a dream of mine to ride my bicycle along the river with a picnic basket in hand. I am also very keen to check out Austria – they have been stewards of sustainable viticulture for a long time. Spending so much of my recent time with a Kiwi in the Okanagan (David Paterson) means that New Zealand is now high on the list too … Again, how on Earth do I pick just one?!
Bottle and snack always in your fridge/pantry? The wine is usually a rotation between the Tiberio Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (always in the fridge for a chill), the Collestefano Verdicchio di Matelica (that salty, waxy, citrusy freshness gets me every time), or the Catherine & Pierre Breton Trinch! Cabernet Franc from Bourgueil (the Bretons consider Magnums to be a normal size bottle and a 750ml to be a half-size, just sayin). I also have a new-found curiosity for Sherry – currently, there is a bottle of the Bodegas Baron Micaela Manzanilla in my fridge. You can’t have Sherry without cheese so I easily cave in the cheese department. Right now, the cheese drawer is stocked up with some Parmigiano-Reggioano and Comte. You normally find a bag of potato chips in my cupboard – usually Old Dutch Original - just in case a bottle of bubble is in the fridge!
If you could have dinner with any winemaker, who would it be? Mimi Casteel from Hope Well Vineyards in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. She is an advocate of regenerative agriculture and stresses the importance of our connection with nature. She thinks that the current state of agriculture is contributing excessively to climate change. At Hope Well, Mimi is committed to biodiversity and the protection of root systems in order to not disturb the mycorrhizae (symbiotic relationships between fungi and plants that provide nutrition and communication to one another and the soil). By planting varied crops, and by actually encouraging wild plant and animal life, she believes that we can restore soil hydration and reduce the amount of carbon being released into the atmosphere. This can help restore the land to its natural balance while creating a large-scale solution to climate change. Now that is a conversation I want to be a part of! I think she is one of the most bad-ass wine women who is actually putting ideas into action. If all winemakers can put the overall environmental impact at the forefront of their decision-making, it will ensure the next generation will have the healthy land they need to continue producing wine.
Guilty pleasure wine? Riesling. Sweet or dry; sour, creamy, savoury, or spritzy – whatever the style, they are always fresh and delicious. I embrace Riesling from all corners of the globe. No guilt, purely pleasure.
What does your ideal night off in Vancouver look like? If I am keen for a night out, there are so many fun places and pals to visit – I’m definitely grabbing a glass of vino at Chambar, Burdock & Co, or Juice Bar. If dinner is in the cards, I’m making a reservation at Savio Volpe. If late-night drinks are in order, I’ve been known to pop into the Keefer Bar, but you will always find me at the Bayside Lounge for last call. My ultimate night however is a BBQ on the beach. I am a big fan of Mother Nature and all things outdoors. I have the great pleasure of living in the West End and I can’t get enough of it. I’m bringing the Weber down to Sunset Beach for jerk chicken and veggie skewers. I’m drinking Loire Valley Chenin and Lambrusco by the litre. Come one, come all! The spectacular sunsets bring a whole new meaning to dinner and a show!
Your biggest inspiration in working in wine? The people, the travel, the farming. Every wine has a story to tell: who made it, what makes it different from other wines, why it tastes the way it does, and why it is the right wine for that moment. A commitment to being in sync with Mother Nature is essential and it requires a lot of hard-working people to make a wine come to life. Wine is alive! It is constantly changing. You can drink a wine from the exact same plot of land year and year, and you will never drink the same wine twice. It is truly fascinating.
If you could work at a winery for a year, which would it be? Pattes Loup in Chablis or G.D. Vajra in Barolo. Or Niepoort in Portugal. Or Brittan Vineyards in Oregon. Or Duncan Savage in South Africa. Or Bindi in Australia. Ahh how do I pick just one?! There are so many incredible wine growing regions I would love to work in. I had the great opportunity to work at Tantalus Vineyards in Kelowna for the last 6 months. I got to spend 3 months in the vineyard and 3 months in the cellar, experiencing first-hand what it actually entails to transform a plant into a bottle of wine. I think every Somm needs to work harvest at least once in their lifetime. The winemaker David Paterson is truly a legend; through his passion, commitment, and curiosity, I learnt more about wine than I ever learnt from a textbook over many years of study.
Best piece of advice for someone looking to get into wine? Do it!! It’s so much fun! We need more people like you! One of my biggest turn-offs in this industry (like many other industries) is ego. It’s impossible to know everything about wine, so don’t get caught up in who knows more or who drank what. Forget the ego; this industry is so much more than that. We need to start thinking about wine as a universal beverage as opposed to a luxury product. Wine is about agriculture; it’s about culture; it’s about breaking bread and facilitating happiness. The more you learn about wine, the more you will realize how much more there is to know about wine. The study of wine is the study of the world – it is social, historical, political, and environmental. Every day, I learn something new about topography, geography, climate change, and sustainability. Not only is it intellectually stimulating, but it is so much fun! The best part about learning is sharing it with others. Giving people knowledge creates an opportunity to connect people together. We welcome you!
Biggest epiphany during these trying times? Quit watching the news so much. Embrace the little things. Remember to take time for reflection and perspective. And continue to support local! GO BC wine GO!!
What have you found on your travels that you wish there was more of in Vancouver? Wine bars and street food. I also think we lack affordable access to wine. I praise the importers like Pete Marshall at Sur Lie and Matt Sherlock at Sedimentary that work so hard to bring interesting wines to our market then get so heavily taxed before we have the opportunity to enjoy drinking them. We are grateful for you guys! There are so many incredible wines that just don’t make it to our market. We want to support these wineries!
Next wine region on your radar to visit? Once travel is a thing again (going places! seeing people! imagine!) I need to go to the Loire. Long overdue. Glou-glou paired against a backdrop of magnificent Châteaux; legendary. Gotta rent a little Volkswagen beetle and shoot upriver at an alarming pace, maybe with a bottle of wine in the cup holder for later (unopened, don’t @ me!).
Bottle and snack always in your fridge/pantry? I always have vermouth in my fridge! It doesn't degrade quickly, is very satisfying in small amounts (crucial in an industry where our primary beverage contains poison; alcohol), and is increasingly locally produced and delicious. A splash in your dinner never goes amiss, either. Right now it's Esquimalt Rosso, which is beautiful and produced right here in BC. As for snacks, anyone who knows me will tell you that I eat a horrifying quantity of Kettle brand salt and vinegar chips. I ate a whole bag before a Chablis seminar once and absolutely torched my palate. I will have veneers at 35 and I'm at peace with that.
If you could have dinner with any winemaker, who would it be? I would love to have dinner with Judith Beck. She makes wines of incredible elegance with clearly perceptible terroir. With her experience at Errazuriz and Cos d’Estournel, and now her beautiful biodynamic vineyards in Burgenland, she deftly holds space for tradition while balancing the push for modernization. She has an incredibly focused perspective and it shows in her wines. Plus, they’re so, so good with food - a must to sit down for dinner!
Guilty pleasure wine? I don’t at all believe in guilty pleasures! I think we can leave the concept behind. That being said, I’m frequently guilty about the amount of money I spend on champagne; it’s not cheap, it is very delicious, and age just suits it so nicely. A bottle of immaculately aged vintage champagne will go all the way. On the other end of things, I tend to shy away from running my mouth with the somm crowd about the volumes of gloriously inexpensive magnums of Freixenet ($27!!) that I love to drink with friends. One man’s trash, I suppose…
What have you found on your travels that you wish there was more of in Vancouver? Casual patio eating and drinking. We’re slowly seeing that change, but constant pushes by restaurants and the general public have paled in the face of the sanitized, tower-and-podium Vancouverism espoused by our Planning office. I hope to see their perspective shift in the coming months and years; could be a silver lining to this waking Covid nightmare.
What does your ideal night off in Vancouver look like? My ideal night off is a long, slow dinner at a table overfilled with friends. Apéritifs, bubbles, something delicious to drink paired with some slowly-simmering dinner shared family style. Hopefully someone ends up laying on the rug from eating too much. Nothing better.
Your biggest inspiration in working in wine? My biggest inspiration in wine are the Eureka moments we create tableside for guests, stemming from those same moments we experience. Wines people have never dreamed of, from places they haven't heard of, or sometimes something familiar enjoyed in a novel way; watching that childlike feeling of joy shine is incredible to pass on.
If you could work at a winery for a year, which would it be? I would love to work with Krista Scruggs at Zafa in Vermont - if she would have me. Any earnest wine lover will tell you wine is about sharing beauty and exchanging experiences. It's about the people, though much gets made of the glitter, glamour, and unicorn wines. Scruggs is a visionary and a powerhouse, a farmer and vigneronne of the next generation. We need that kind of work in this industry. In the words of Anton Ego; I’m craving some perspective. Wine is all too often missing her point of view.
Best piece of advice for someone looking to get into wine? First of all, hi friend!!!! If you're a bit of a nerd, you like people, and you are happy on your feet, you're in great company. Try not to be intimidated by the rigamarole and competition vibes of the wine world. Factoids and flash cards are a dismal way to take in oenological beauty. Soil types should be interesting and exciting, they should explain something; when they become a dismaying and exhausting dental drill to the side of the head, best step away from the horrid little sheets lest you ruin your fun. There are so many incredible people working in wine, especially in BC. Meet them. Work at your own pace, don't compare yourself to others (they’re probably comparing themselves to you anyway), and focus on what you taste and smell in your everyday life. Try wines and foods, and focus on why they don’t work together as much as why they do. One of the big joys of wine is that it's sensual. Let it be.
Biggest epiphany during these trying times? I think it’s telling that the degree the brutality of these times on the wine and hospitality sectors has become almost anachronistic to discuss. I strongly feel that we should be processing this experience and doing what we can to talk through all this madness. These are truly and deeply challenging times. On that note, one of the things that has brought some vibrancy to the industry this year has been the cathartic outpouring of grief, anger, and solidarity that has come out of the disturbingly unsurprising revelations in the NYT regarding the CMS, GuildSomm, and the wine world more broadly; these also follow up similar events last year. The ensuing conversations (thank you, Ashtin Berry, among many others!) around this have also been incredibly refreshing. We all stand to benefit from those amongst us who have been silenced speaking out loudly, and we should see those who claim to hold a monopoly on hospitality and credibility held accountable for their horrific decisions. The rapid change in pace, depth, and quality of this conversation among those that matter has brought me some hope.
Next wine region on your radar to visit? Gorizia, Friuli-Venezia Giulia. When I was a wine rep in Brazil I was introduced to Josko Gravner Radikon. The really old style of winemaking that was revived and more modern producers like Marco Feluga and Schiopetto. So much to learn from these guys and not far away from other amazing producers across the border in Slovenia like Simicic and Marko Fon.
Bottle and snack always in your fridge/pantry? Sherry and Jamon Serrano!!! Can’t go wrong!
Biggest epiphany during these trying times? So nice to see everyone holding hands to go through theses times. I’m taking a lot of time to study and stay with family, trying to keep my mind busy and ready for a new beginning. I’m sure we will come back stronger and more united, it’s just a matter of time.
Guilty pleasure wine? Brazilian sparkling wine. So many people don’t know how good sparkling wine from Brazil can be. We actually have a DO for Traditional method. So I’m not really guilty about.
What does your ideal night off in Vancouver look like? When I have the opportunity to visit many places, Vancouver have a great diversity. I love trying new beers/brewery, at least 2 places for cocktails, a glass of wine and some snacks in one of the hot restaurants in town, main course in another one. After dinner, wines at any of the wine bars catching up with my wine reps based in Vancouver and finishing with a late night burger before going back home. (I don’t go to Vancouver so often but when I go I love to explore and visit many of my idols Somms)
What is your biggest inspiration in working in wine? We are always learning and involving. The fact that wine is not only about the wine itself but history, geography, geology, farming, business and so on. It’s never boring.
If you could work at a winery for a year, which would it be? After having been at Martins Lane this summer it’s impossible to not pick that place to work. The ambience is relaxing, perfectly designed and with a lot of winemaking equipment. I love their wines, the wine- maker Shane and the energy of Matt who runs the tasting at Martins lane.
Best piece of advice for someone looking to get into wine? Be loyal to your partner but not to one wine. Even if you find the wine that you love you should explore the other wines in the market. Read a lot. I’m reading Jancis Robinson’s wine course book. It’s an introductory to wine and I'm still learning so many things.
What have you found on your travels that you wish there was more of in Vancouver? South America street food like choripan, Brazilian street churrasco, empanadas, Etc.
If you could have dinner with any winemaker, who would it be? Rajat Parr, I love his wines. He is an amazing formal Somm with lots of experience and a supper funny guy. I’m sure I would learn lots and have a good time.
Next wine region on your radar to visit? There are so many! I was planning to go to South Africa pre-Covid. So I would say that it is still #1 on my radar. I find that there are so many quality wines coming out of that region and I just can’t taste enough of them. And everyone that I speak to about it says that it is a MUST go to area. Not to mention I hear the food scene is incredible too.
Bottle and snack always in your fridge/pantry?
Biggest epiphany during these trying times? Life keeps going, even when you feel like it stops. “Go with the flow” really is a thing. It’s important to adapt and change your mindset to see what is available in front of you instead of focusing on what is no longer. Change isn’t always easy but it’s always an option.
Guilty pleasure wine? Champagne. All Champagne. I’m always looking for a reason to buy a bottle. Even when my pocket book says I shouldn’t. Whether it’s a Growers Champagne or a Grande Marque, I love trying a new bottle and sharing with someone I value.
What does your ideal night off in Vancouver look like? Time spent with friends, eating good food and drinking good wine (or cocktails/fine liquors) - outdoors if weather permits. Being in an environment where I don’t have to worry about time constraints, and I can just let the evening flow with the only thought being about how much I’m enjoying myself.
Who is your biggest inspiration in wine? Definitely my father. Being from France, wine was always important to him and it was a big part of my life growing up. What wine he was drinking with what dish was crucial. Wine was never an afterthought. As an adult, I found myself wanting to understand more about wine. Once I delved into that world, I couldn’t get enough!
If you could work at a winery for a year, which would it be? Any winery in the Canary Islands. I love the idea of discovering a completely different wine region from what I know: extreme viticulture, rugged terroir, volcanic soils, an outstanding ecosystem, unknown grape varieties, and of course, a very pleasing climate. Plus I would get to experience a new culture, which I love doing.
Best piece of advice for someone looking to get into wine? Remember that everyone starts somewhere. Keep it fun. Don’t feel pressured by the “supposed to” aspects. Jump into the world of wine in the way that you want to, and just start learning. And taste, a lot, “study hard”. The more often you are trying different wines, the faster you will train your palate.
What have you found on your travels that you wish there was more of in Vancouver? Downtown wine tasting rooms. I think this would be a great option for the BC wine industry. It would give both locals and travellers alike, the option to try local wines before investing in a bottle. It would promote our local wine industry and it would be a fun place to go as well!
If you could have dinner with any winemaker, who would it be? Telmo Rodriguez. I love his approach to winemaking/viticulture and I would love to be able to learn more from him. From his dedication to revitalizing the abandoned vineyards of Spain, to honoring traditional winemaking (depending on the area of the vineyard) while at the same time modernizing it (eg. Mountain Blanco Muscat), to Biodynamic Viticulture: I feel like dinner wouldn’t be long enough to discuss it all.
Next wine region on your radar to visit? I'm ashamed to say that I have never left North America, and I am DYING to visit Europe and its viticultural splendor. I love all things Italy however I would love to visit the southern regions such as Calabria or Sicily. Of course, I'm heading up to the Okanagan Valley for wine country! We're lucky we have a vibrant and diverse wine region right here in our backyard!
Bottle and snack always in your fridge/pantry?
Biggest epiphany during these trying times? Staying at home was really tough for me, as I like to be productive and always moving: symptoms of living a busy city life. However, what I've noticed is that it was the little things that make a huge difference. When life slows down, you're more aware of the surroundings around you. Things like taking walks and appreciating what a beautiful place that we live in. We need to remember that it's okay to take a pause to just notice what's around you, and appreciate them for what they are. :)
Guilty pleasure wine? I don't know why, but I always have a bottle of the Antonio Scala Ciro Rosso at home. I absolutely love how juicy and fresh it is; it's the perfect companion to any food dish, although I do love drinking it chilled on its own too. I also love their vintage-style label, it reminds me of the old-school racing logos from the 70s.
What does your ideal night off in Vancouver look like? With the long-overdue summer that's finally here, my ideal night now consists of being by the water. I also love BBQs, and nothing beats grilled burgers and veggies after being at the beach the whole day! With what's going on right now, it's definitely good for the soul to be outside and enjoying our backyard. :)
Who is your biggest inspiration in wine? Just being around people that are so passionate and articulate about wine inspires me everyday and reminds me how much fun (and sometimes intense) wine can be. I'll admit it was quite intimidating to work with Kelcie Jones (Chambar's Wine Director), as she's a wine maven in her own right, but working with her over the years has shown me how to navigate the wine world in a thoughtful, intentional, and ethical way.
If you could work at a winery for a year, which would it be? I would love to spend a vintage at Cristom Vineyards down in Oregon. Starting out I was never a Pinot Noir fan; I much preferred the bigger and bolder stuff. However when I started at Chambar I tasted Cristom's Sommers Reserve, and I didn't realize how much I was missing out on such an archetype of a grape. I was an instant convert from then on. :)
Best piece of advice for someone looking to get into wine? Forget feeling nervous or intimidated, sometimes you just need to jump in and do it! I started out by just drinking wine, and eventually I signed up for my first wine class. There's so many opportunities to learn about wine, and a lot of it is at our fingertips. Sign up for a wine education course like WSET or the French/Italian/Spanish Wine Scholar, or just start up your own tasting group with your own friends. Wine at the end of the day is meant to be shared and enjoyed with good company!
What have you found on your travels that you wish there was more of in Vancouver? I wish there were more wine bars that break the expectation that you have to spend money or have vast wine knowledge to appreciate wine. Right now we have the fun and hip joints like Juice Bar and Dachi that fosters a playful and come-as-you-are attitude when it comes to wine, and that's what wine should be about!
If you could have dinner with any winemaker, who would it be? I would love to have dinner with Elisabetta Foradori, who put the local Italian grape Teroldego on the map. In a time where everyone else was trending to the popular international varieties and modern winemaking practices, she chose to showcase a grape that everyone said was not a good grape to make wine with. She not only proved them wrong, but also proved that genetically diverse vineyards (i.e. as mother nature intended) makes really good wine. The story of her vineyards is so interesting and is one of the reasons why I love Italy so much.