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Winos, Unite

Everyone loves a good farmers’ market. And why shouldn't they? Farmers' markets are places at which nearby farmers get together to sell their wonderful creations directly to the people who appreciate it most.

Everyone loves a good farmers’ market.

And why shouldn't they?  Farmers' markets are places at which nearby farmers get together to sell their wonderful creations directly to the people who appreciate it most.  Besides picking up local products and speaking to the very person (or family) responsible for growing it, you can rest assured that at a farmers’ market, you are among friends.  After all, every last person is there because they are celebrating everything they have in common: a passion for local culture, a hunger for homegrown food, and a desire to support the local economy.

Now what if I were to tell you that someone took this idea of a farmers market and turned it on its head?  Instead of bringing foodies together, think a farmers’ market that brings winos together.  Not only that, the farmers market is online so for those who cannot easily make it to the grapes in the Okanagan Valley or elsewhere in this beautiful Province of ours, worry not.  New District, founded by Elin Tayyar, allows you to order bottles of wine directly from the vineyard where they were crafted and have them delivered to your front doorstep.  I was curious about the whole set-up as I am sure you are, provided you haven’t completely abandoned this and are already on the website with your credit card out.  So, I caught up with Elin at New District's downtown Vancouver office to find out more over - of course - some rosé, a baguette, brie cheese, and Okanagan grapes.

 Le Vieux Pin, Oliver BC. Photo: Andrew StrainLe Vieux Pin, Oliver BC

V.I.A.: What was the inspiration behind New District?

ET: I noticed a disconnect between the majority of wine drinkers and the hundreds of wineries we have in our own Province.  New District is our way of directly connecting the craft winemaker to the wine lover.  In doing so, we are addressing the issue of an archaic distribution system that leaves the craft wineries behind, not to mention the general lack of public knowledge about the 270+ wineries in BC.  We feel we tell the story of BC wine by helping facilitate the direct purchasing of wine from the winemaker.  This really is the future of buying wine and we are excited to help shape that.

How do you decide which wineries make the cut?

We literally go around to different wineries and do tastings.  If we like the wine and see the passion behind the winery, then we talk to the winemaker about joining our community.  It's a long and time-consuming process for us, but we feel that the curatorial aspect of New District is what sets it apart from any alternative out there, especially the brick and mortar stores.

As something of a connoisseur (you must be at this point!), what are some of your favourite reds and whites?

This is probably the toughest question!  My taste changes quite often, but right now my favourite would have to be the unfiltered rosé from Lock & Worth (definitely not a soft one).  I don't like reds, but I was impressed by Blackwood Lane's Cab Franc last week.  As for whites, Le Vieux Pin's Ava and Corcelette's Trivium.

 La Stella Winery, Osoyoos BC. Photo: Andrew StrainLastella Winery, Osoyoos BC

Essentially, New District travels in high and wide search for quality wines so that you don't have to.  Progressive, I know – and totally legal too!  To give you some context (and more reason to love the beaded hippie granola vibe of the West Coast where what we say and want usually goes…just look at the lack of highways in Vancouver as a testament), you should know this: Bill C-311, which amended the 1928 Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, was passed unanimously in the House of Commons and Senate back in June 2012 with hopes of breaking down interprovincial barriers for wine trade (because we should all be able to cross the border with a little alcoholic something something every now and then right?).  Not long after, British Columbia - and Manitoba, too - authorized interprovincial Internet and phone sales to individuals and the rest is, well, New District.

The point?  Go ahead and fill that cart right up because you can, unless you’re worried about the optics associated with an order of 12 bottles of Pinot Gris.  That, I'm afraid, no one can help you with.  And to that I quote you Jack Kerouac who wrote in The Dharma Bums, “There’s wisdom in wine, goddam it!”.  And the guy knew a thing or two on the subject (dedicated his life to it even).  Anyway, it’s a fun thing to try and although there’s descriptive word paint about the products that will make you salivate immediately upon first reading, much like I say with movies and books that end up becoming favourites, it’s worthwhile to go in cold.  Swig a fruity Merlot or one with a chocolate finish even if it’s not your thing and think to yourself, yup, the time has come for a farmers market for independent wineries in British Columbia and it's pretty awesome.

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