One crisp summer afternoon 6 years ago, I was on the hunt for a couple of peachy Gewürztraminers to compliment the potato Salmon-gratin I was preparing for some friends. There was a buzz coming from a shop along 1st Avenue that stopped me in my tracks. The twenty people standing in a shop happily sipping wine and conversing made me feel like I was close to finding what I had been hunting for. The conversation seemed to flow as smooth and calmly as the tears that drizzled down their glasses. I casually asked someone if there was a party going on when a staff informed me of the store’s weekly wine tasting. She went on to describe the event as having 4-6 wines offered for sampling. Sometimes it’s varietal – centric, for instance: 6 Pinot Blanc’s from 6 different local wineries or vineyards. Other weeks a winery is featured and often the vintners will come to chat about their vintages so you can learn something new about the BC wines you are drinking, straight from the source. It was here that I had learned the term, oenophiles, which simply translates to a lover of wine.
Growing up in Europe, I was introduced to the love of wine at a young age. I enjoyed my first glass of an exquisite 1978 Medoc Bordeaux when I was 9 with Dad’s Duck L’ Orange Christmas dinner. This first glass ignited my passion for fine wine and spawned a wide variety henceforth. “Back then” in the 80’s and 90’s, Canadian wines weren’t on the map; the few that did get exported often dismissed as swill or box wine and not taken very seriously. They were critiqued by Connoisseurs as either too young or too sweet. B.C. wines were specifically pegged as being too fruity.
For the last 8 years Village VQA Wines on West 1st Avenue continues to host a complimentary wine tasting every Saturday afternoon between 2 & 5. Personally, I’ve visited sixteen yummy, entertaining and educational Saturdays in a row. In that time I’ve been able to fall in love with B.C., Okanagan and Vancouver Island produced wines. As an added accoutrement, I have also met a bunch of interesting, fellow grape-lovin’ whacky neighbours.
Within me is a thirst for learning more about the noble grape sprouted from Canadian soil, which was so expertly tended to and raised. My palate-wide longing for the plethora of flavors available was palpable. I find a lot of Canadian wines to be naturally well-balanced and well-suited to compliment with a range of dishes. From the signature crisp acidities of the Okanagan valley to the unusually deep liquorish, rose and tobacco notes of a more erudite West Coast nature, filled with areas of less sun and more Pacific rain. The Village Wine had just flavour schooled me and I was hooked. My infectios expressions of how much I enjoyed the tastings and the wine seemed to impress the manager as she suggested I work part-time at the store. The manager went on to explain that I could turn my hobby into a benefit to my self, their business and the community.
I thoroughly enjoyed visiting this neighbourhood event. The owners let me promote my paintings & decorate their business if the opportunity arose. In addition they helped unite my neighbours with the perfect Cabernet-Merlot or Chardonnay to go with Thursday Night Tenderloin or Wednesday Evening Seafood Pasta, respectively.
a friendly atmosphere in a store that curated a common interest of local and international food & wine culture. This common ground amongst employees and customers seemed conducive to opening up a dialogue between fellow oenophiles in the community that get to know each other better. I even witnessed people spontaneously starting wine & dinner clubs (follow me for more other blogs). The weekly tastings resemble that of a town hall meeting. Or, at the very least, the drinking that follows a town hall meeting. After my second tasting, I put my pad’n’pen aside and immersed myself in the flowing conversation that centred around the appreciation of a wine with great legs.
Whether you are a seasoned oenologist or barely know a Pinot Gris from a Pinot Noir, the staff are unpretentious, un-assuming and gladly answer all your questions. They are passionate experts at confidently selecting the perfect bottle for your meal or occasion. The employees know and drink the wines they sell! The store sells organic wines or low-tannin options for people with sensitivities and to the slightly more processed wine lovers. Price points are very reasonable and there are options for every budget. Village VQA wines are also the only 100% VQA retailers in Vancouver. VQA stands for Vintner’s Quality Assurance which “is a regulatory and appellation system which guarantees the high quality and authenticity of origin for Canadian wines made under that system in British Columbia.” It’s the province’s regulatory body that makes sure wines bottled and sold in BC, are in fact coming out of the B.C vineyards, which adhere to strict standards of production and handling. It’s aim is to ensure that the quality of the wine sold maintains its world-renowned reputation for being in a class of its own.
So check out the Village VQA Wine store the next time you happen to be taking a stroll down West 1st Avenue. Quite simply, its a place to stop and smell the rosé.
It’s right next to the Kits Daily Kitchen (restaurant) on the north side of the street (between Burrard and Cypress). We mention the Kits Daily Kitchen as it’s a fantastic place to dine, and also welcomes patrons to purchase wine from the Village VQA in their dining room (click here for the corkage policy).
Village VQA Wine
1811 West 1st Avenue. They are open 7 days a week.
Their complimentary wine tasting is every Saturday from 2:00-5:00 PM.
Website: The Village VQA Wine