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On “Inclusivity and Support for 2SLGBTQIA+ Wine Drinkers”, with Tadia Rae and Shanique Kelly

Photo credit: Simone Chnarakis

While there is undoubtedly strength in numbers, sometimes just the power of two is enough to work magical things. From front/back of house pairings and designer duos to sibling set-ups and mom & pop alliances, this series of interviews looks to gain insight into what makes some of British Columbia’s more interesting partnerships tick.

Tadia Rae and Shanique Kelly are the co-founders of Fruit Forward, a new queer wine social that kicked off in May. Although they may be fresh on the event scene, that hasn’t stopped the duo from hitting the Vancouver ground running. With two successful socials already under their belts and another two planned for this month, it’s clear that these women have cracked the code on a niche that the city was lacking…

Whether it’s a semi-guided tasting, patio party, wine-and-pottery evening (July 13th at Bahoo Studio, already sold out), or a natural wine 101 course (July 20th at The Birdhouse, in partnership with This Is Wine School), each Fruit Forward social takes on a slightly different vibe. What stays the same is the focus on creating an open, inclusive and inviting environment for queer people to enjoy natural wine without having to be sommeliers – refreshing!

We reached out to Tadia and Shanique to get to know them better, and to find out more about the origins of Fruit Forward:

Firstly, how did you two meet?

Shanique: We first met at the beginning of 2018. At the time, I was DJing events, many of which Tadia was involved in as an organizer or bar manager. We hit it off right away and have been friends since!

Please tell us the story behind Fruit Forward. Was there a single moment in particular that sparked the idea, or did the concept build up slowly over time?

Tadia: Shanique came to me with the idea of a queer wine event, and I very excitedly told her I’d been thinking about the same thing. We both love gathering people together and have a passion for wine. Fruit Forward: A Queer Wine Social seemed like the perfect combination of those two things!

For those who haven’t attended a Fruit Forward event yet, describe the energy in just three words, to give us a better idea of what to expect.

Tadia & Shanique: Connection, Curiosity, Joyful.

What criteria do you use when selecting the wine you serve at an event? 

Tadia & Shanique: We want our events to feel different each time. Sometimes we’re partnering with a venue that’s providing their own thoughtfully curated wine list, and other times, we’re selecting the wines ourselves. When we do select our own wines, it’s important for us to have a little something for everyone, whether you’re new to wine, want to try something more adventurous or want a non-alcoholic wine option. Where we can, we also like to showcase the local BC producers we know and love!

Photo credit: Simone Chnarakis

As queer women, what is your impression of the inclusivity/representation of the queer community within the wine industry at large? How does hosting queer-focused wine events contribute to the overall picture? 

Tadia & Shanique: The world of wine can often feel inaccessible to lots of people due to the extensive knowledge associated with it and the challenge of knowing where to begin. Like so many other industries, often this knowledge stays within communities that have the most privilege. In [our] opinion, wine should be an enjoyable and inclusive experience for everyone! Our goal is to infuse wine with excitement and fun, while also breaking down barriers that may discourage those who are curious about delving deeper into the world of wine. We aspire to create a welcoming environment where people can freely discuss wine with their friends, without taking themselves too seriously. By doing so, we hope to foster a sense of inclusivity and support for 2SLGBTQIA + wine drinkers!

I recently saw on Instagram a teaser about a potential Fruit Forward partnership with This Is Wine School…No pressure to spill the beans before you’re ready, but are there any other dream people and/or venues you’d like to work with in the future?

Tadia & Shanique: Yes we can confirm! We will be partnering with This is Wine School to host rotating educational wine classes, beginning with an Intro to Natural Wine on Thursday, July 20th. We are really excited and can’t wait to share this offering with our growing Fruit Forward community. One of our goals with Fruit Forward is to keep things interesting and unique! We’re doing a pottery and wine social with a local pottery studio, and we’re looking forward to building more relationships with folks both within and outside of the wine industry who want to collaborate. We have a dream of a Fruit Forward trip to a vineyard! How cool would that be? However, until that time comes, we have some other cool collaborations lined up with folks in the city, so stay tuned!

Lastly: Imagine yourselves as bottles of natural wine – what would each of you be?

Shanique: A crisp pet nat! Effervescent, easy drinking, light and fun!

Tadia: Light-bodied red, ripe and bright fruits, a touch of salinity, soft finish!


As previously mentioned, the Fruit Forward wine and pottery event is already sold out, but you can sign up for the waitlist here to try and snag a last-minute spot. If you’re interested in learning more about natural wine, act fast and grab tickets to the “Juice ED: Intro to Natural Wine” hosted in collaboration with This Is Wine School at The Birdhouse on Thursday, July 20th here.

From Road Trip Wisdom to Laugh-Love-Language, with Bailey Hayward and Mathew Bishop

The couple opened Gary’s on Twelfth in the Fall of 2023. We know very well that it takes something special to be able to be partners in both life and business; so, naturally we wanted to get to the bottom of what makes this duo such a winning combination, and learn more about them.

Getting to Know Best-Friends-in-Business, Winnie Sun and Hassib Sarwari

Anyone who has ever been to Zarak knows that it is the ever-present and always smiling faces of Winnie and Hassib that make the Mount Pleasant restaurant what it is. In order to glean some insight into their strategies for success and what makes their collaboration work so well, we recently reached out to the pair with a slew questions.

Meet Ex-Teachers, Small Business Owners and Rad Humans, Aiyana Kane & Jackie Avery

Though the signage has switched-up and the branding looks different, the menu and motivations of The Burrow (formerly Bandidas Taqueria) remain consistent: to serve up nourishing, Mexican-inspired vegetarian and vegan fare, with a side of activism and an eye to affordability, community and sustainability.

Power Of Two: Flourist’s Shira McDermott & Janna Bishop

On the heels of their flagship Commercial Street location celebrating its fourth anniversary (and just in time for International Women's Day), we talk partnership and small business with friends and Flourist co-owners Shira McDermott and Janna Bishop.