We had the pleasure to follow up our previous article with Kate Marshall, General Manager at Vancouver Urban Winery (VUW), for a nice chat about everything vin. Located in historic Railtown, this hidden gem features lofty ceilings, a warm and inviting atmosphere, and plenty of opportunities to explore wine – everything you might expect from an Okanagan or Napa Valley winery – without ever leaving the city.
The Stop In Interview with Kate Marshall:
What’s the most popular wine here?
We get a lot of people asking what the most popular grapes are in B.C. A lot of people like Pinot Gris for whites, and for red we find a lot of full-bodied dries, so like a Merlot-Syrah blend. Our taps are rotating all the time, so we always get new people coming in and finding new favourites.
What’s the vibe of the winery?
All the wine flights are very interactive, all the information is down in front of you so you can talk about it. We give the opportunity to get social online too, like tweeting at your favourite winery – so we definitely encourage the social aspect. We do have a smaller mezzanine area upstairs for something more intimate and private.
How do you make wine more approachable to a younger generation?
Wine on tap appeals to the younger demographic. We like to call it “Screwcap 2.0,” just like how screwcaps made beer more friendly, wine on tap just naturally attracts a younger crowd.
What about prices of wines at VUW?
Our whole game plan is affordable and accessible, and we love being able to offer higher-priced wines at an affordable price. People get really excited when they find out that they can taste wines without having to buy a whole bottle, so we love continuing that excitement forward with price accessibility.
What are some stereotypes that people have about the wine industry?
One of the big stereotypes is that people have to be so well-versed in wine. It’s still intimidating for some people, and it shouldn’t be. That’s one stereotype that we’re trying to break; our younger spin on wine is something that we’re trying to share with everyone.
We do a number of Sunday Schools that we call “Demystifying Wine,” where you basically come in to try 8-10 different wines and learn their characteristics. Our sommeliers are young, very knowledgeable, and they just bring a fun, new-age aspect to learning about wine.
What’s one thing you would want everyone to know about wine?
Don’t judge a grape by the colour of its skin. There are white grapes that actually have red skins, the only reason they produce white juice is because they are pressed out of the skins, which are immediately removed. The same goes for red wine; red grapes mostly produce a white juice. Aging it for six months or longer with the skins in is what gives it that deep red colour. People always ask about one of our Pinot Gris on tap because it looks like a rosé.
What would you say you’re most proud of here?
Probably the success that we’ve had in the short two years that we’ve been here. We’re the first urban winery in Vancouver, and we’re the first commercial winery packaging wine on tap for other wineries, so there’s a lot of firsts for us. Breaking the Fresh Tap concept into so many restaurants as well. Being an industry leader in wine on tap is a cool thing to be a part of.
How Kate stepped into the Wine Industry:
I was into the wine on tap concept: the education, the green concept, and the freshness of the wine. Working in the restaurant industry, I don’t know how many bad glasses of wine I poured from a bottle that had been sitting open for days and having the wine sent back. So when I learned about [wine on tap], I thought it was great because I could serve a glass of wine and not worry about having it sent back. And so I was brought on board [at VUW] to develop the business, and from that, I’ve just become such a huge fan of wine.
End of Interview*
More about Kate Marshall:
Kate is responsible for creating and implementing extraordinary guest experiences at the winery. She manages all operations of the retail store, wine tasting programs, winery tours and special event organization and coordination.