Monday through Sunday, 9am – 11pm
Ross Borland, Managing Partner
Brent Muller, General Manager
Sharon McLean, Education Director
Definition : Vessel
Vessel Liquor Store was founded to be these things.
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 and listings interesting finds from all over the globe. It’s that this locally owned and operated liquor store chooses to support surrounding local whenever possible, both within the beverage industry, and from other companies in the design, tech, construction, food, distribution, events, conservation and more arenas that Vessel partners and deals with daily.
According to managing partner and founder Ross Borland, “Contributing to our community is a core mandate of what Vessel Liquor Store is. We’re fortunate to be tucked into a crossroads between Fairfield, Oak Bay, Fernwood, Rockland and Downtown.” As such, Vessel welcomes and services a diverse and eclectic clientele. They’re often out in the community, operating Pop Up Shops at events like Victoria International Wine Fest, or fundraising for local causes like the BC Cancer Foundation. 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 every 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 drinks 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. Even if they don’t have a traditional retail background, if they’re keen to learn and share, we want to have them on board.” 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 custom-built 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 enthusiast up to professional masterclasses, and from local beer to cocktails to rare wines. In addition to inviting in local experts to lead seminars, many of the Vessel staff lead classes on topics they’re particularly keen on, from natural wine through craft beer, allowing them the chance to share, and grow. The updated calendar is published on the website and Facebook page, and there are different options for purchasing multipacks, like VINcabulary, or Six Pack of Beer (Classes). Notes Borland, “It’s a rewarding feeling, helping grow beverage culture in this city, and seeing the enthusiastic response. That’s why we’re here.”