We're entering a golden age of wine clubs in Canada. It wasn't that long ago that your choices were the Opimian Society —which, to its credit carried the banner pretty much solo for decades—and that was about it. But as provincial wine laws have sorta, kind of relaxed (it's a screwball area) and enforcement of said idiotic laws mostly vanished, there seems like there's a new club popping every other week wanting you to buy into the fact that their selection is the key to oenological nirvana.
And there are some gems out there. Apero Mode, curated by Maude Renaud-Brisson is a fave; the Wine Vikings has some cool stuff (like this treat from Anne Gros); and there are scores of others. So when the below press release rolled across our desk trumpeting a new wine club his week we were non-plussed...until we started reading.
It really is like one of those supergroups you read about, but there's no Jeff Lynne. Let's start with newly minted Master of Wine Geoff Moss: his full bio is below but all you need to know is that Tony Gismondi—a tough nut in the best sense of the word—allowed two other wine people to do reviews for Gismondi on Wine: Geoff and the amazing Treve Ring. And his takes on wine are crazy perceptive without ever falling into that wank of aged tea leaves left in an Autumn sun and drenched with Japanese plum juice sort of description.
The we have Mike Bernardo, who helmed the wine program at Vij's for its formative years at a time when many regarded it as one the great examples of food and wine pairing and was beloved for its hidden steals for those who cared to look. He's won pretty much every industry accolade (including VanMag's Sommelier of the Year) and he's the personification of a West Coast somm—unpretentious, friendly, adventurous palate. Last year he up and moved to Naramata to become the operating partner of the Naramata General Store from which this new wine club will launch.
Finally we have David Enns, who maybe the ideal for a BC Winemaker. He's (largely) self taught, but that didn't prevent him and wife Cynthia from transforming Laughing Stock from a boot-strap operation into one of the best-loved and most highly coveted labels in the country. Five years ago they sold the operation to Arterra and set about turning their new venture, 1 Mill Road, into the Pinnacle of estate grown Pinot Noir in Canada.
So there you have it: if you think this brain trust might know a thing of two about picking great wines, then you're not alone. The link to the wine club is here and the full press release is below.
NARAMATA, British Columbia (May 2, 2022) – The Naramata General Store, a boutique grocery store in the heart of Okanagan wine country, has launched a new wine club curated by this team of local wine pros: Mike Bernardo, renowned sommelier; David Enns, acclaimed winemaker; and Geoffrey Moss, Master of Wine
“Winemakers and vignerons, from BC and abroad, walk through our doors at the Naramata General Store every day,” said Bernardo. “We launched this wine club not only to share exceptional wines but also the untold stories behind them.”
The Naramata General Store offers two wine club options. The Best of BC Club combines local favourites from the Naramata Bench and throughout British Columbia with new-and-upcoming producers. The first shipment shines a spotlight on the Naramata Bench, featuring wines from Coolshanagh, Daydreamer, Fox & Archer, Foxtrot, Moraine, and Nichol.
The International Gems Club takes members around the world, exploring regions and producers that set the benchmark or push the next frontier. Each club is shipped quarterly, with options for 6- or 12-bottles per shipment. Club members may customize their shipments according to their personal preferences and, for the full wine journey, can join both clubs. Complimentary shipping is offered on shipments of 12 bottles or more.
In addition to hand-selected wines, club members get exclusive access to recorded video interviews to meet the personalities, and learn the stories behind the featured wines. They are also able to join the Naramata General Store Wine Club community page to discuss the wines and pose questions to our three wine guys.
David & Cynthia Enns partnered with Mike Bernardo and his wife Carole Morton to acquire and operate the Naramata General Store in September 2021. The Enns are the former owners of Laughing Stock Vineyards and started 1 Mill Road Vineyard in 2018. David has long been considered one of the top winemakers in the Okanagan Valley and 1 Mill Road’s critically acclaimed Pinot Noirs have been ranked as among the best in the province.
Bernardo has an extensive background in food and wine. He spent 20+ years managing the Vij’s family of restaurants (Vancouver, BC) as Director of Operations, as well as overseeing their wine program as Wine Director. In 2014, he was recognized as Sommelier of the Year by Vancouver Magazine.
Geoffrey Moss earned his Master of Wine in Fall 2020, becoming one of only ten MWs in Canada, and was awarded the Robert Mondavi Winery Award for the best performance on the four-day Theory Exam. He founded Lithica Wine Marketing in 2019, a boutique agency that helps wineries develop effective, customer-centric business and marketing strategies.
The wine club is now open for sign-ups at www.naramata.store. Shipping available throughout BC. Members will receive their first shipment in early June 2022.
About the Naramata General Store
Family owned and operated since 1979, the Naramata General Store provides both convenient and curated options for groceries, deli, wine, beer and pretty much everything else.
Under the new ownership of the Enns and Bernardo/Morton, the wine program has expanded considerably with both an extensive collection of Naramata Bench favourites as well as those hard-to-find bottles from around the globe.