Readers Choice
- Page 35
Victoria’s Best Liquor Store
In under two years, Vessel has become Victoria’s hub for all things wine, beer, spirits, cider and the conversation and culture surrounding them. Since they opened their doors in December 2015, Vessel has built the small company around supporting authentic wine, spirits and ales, as well as the people who make them. It’s not that Vessel Liquor Store supplies only local product; they proudly seek out interesting finds from all over the globe.

According to managing partner and founder Ross Borland, “contributing to our community is a core mandate of what Vessel Liquor Store does. We’re fortunate to be tucked into a crossroad between Fairfield, Oak Bay, Fernwood, Rockland and Downtown.” As such, Vessel welcomes and services a diverse and eclectic clientele.

In addition to stocking the core products that their local neighbours rely on, Vessel’s tight team offers a complete selection of quality products from around the globe and strive to provide outstanding service and value to each customer – from enthusiast to expert.

“General Manager Brent Muller is an encyclopedia of beverage, an excellent taster and a skilled buyer. He’s responsible for our whole product selection and the reason the store has unique products rarely seen elsewhere. His knowledge has been paramount in engaging both our team and our customers.”

That tight team is a main reason for Vessel’s Victoria seat and success in such a short amount of time. “We opened the store to fill a niche in Victoria,” Borland says. “We couldn’t find a place where people passionate about drink culture could collaborate, learn and purchase interesting things at a fair price. We hire only people that share the passion, unpretentiously, for wine, beer, spirits and cider that we do.”

All members of Vessel’s staff have achieved a minimum of Level Two in the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (provided by Vessel) and the company funds ongoing beverage education for staff. The arrangement is aided by The Cru’s Nest, the classroom above the store.

Sharon McLean, Vessel’s education director and one of Canada’s leading wine educators, oversees a busy schedule of classes in the space. There are classes aimed at everyone, from the beginner up to professional masterclasses, and from local beer to cocktails to wine.

“The updated calendar is published on our website and our Facebook page, and we have many folks purchasing gift certificates for classes” notes Borland. “It’s a rewarding feeling, helping grow beverage culture in this city and seeing the enthusiastic response.”