How did you become a passionate wine enthusiast and Retail Product Specialist at the NSLC?
Growing up, I didn’t envision I would have the job that I have now. I actually have a Bachelor of Arts degree from Cape Breton University and a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Maine at Fort Kent. I started working at the Louisbourg NSLC store when I was 19, during the time I was working on my degrees. After graduation, I was juggling two jobs and had bought a house. I needed to pick between the two careers. I chose the NSLC.
Did you always have a passion for wine?
No, not really. When I started working for the NSLC I was 19 so I wasn’t familiar with wine at all. It’s really only been in the last five or six years that wine has become a real passion. I took a wine course a couple years back that solidified my decision to become a Retail Product Specialist so I can share my passion with customers and colleagues.
Do you gravitate to particular wine styles?
I’ve become really enamored with the local wine scene. I love the vibrant acidity that our white wines showcase. My favourite wines are Tidal Bay but I also love Gaspereau Riesling and Nova 7 by Benjamin Bridge. But I think the value of local wine goes beyond what’s in the glass and extends into the fabric of our communities. I love hearing from the likes of the winemakers at Benjamin Bridge and the team at Avondale Sky how many people are supported by the wine industry here. It makes me really proud to promote these products.
Are customers willing to try local?
Absolutely! We did a lot of internal education this summer about local products which has really helped our staff understand the unique qualities of the grapes and wines made here in Nova Scotia. This education has really reflected in sales. The staff, as a whole, is now so passionate about the local industry that it’s translating to the customers. The new Wine Discovery Guide has helped a lot as well as we are able to guide customers used to drinking familiar international wines to a similar locally made product. The new Staff Picks program has also been a huge success story. Our staff has taken a lot of pride in their picks. Their enthusiasm for the program has strengthened their relationship with the customer and the trust they have in the corporation.
Will you be recommending local for holiday entertaining?
Definitely! I’ll be recommending Tidal Bay wines and Domaine de Grand Pré Baco Noir for turkey dinner and there will be Nova 7 in my glass on New Year’s Eve. But it won’t just be local wines that I recommend. Fortress Rum, which is aged in the walls of Fortress Louisbourg, is a big hit here. It makes a great gift idea for those that want to show off their local pride and you can’t go wrong with local beers such as Uncle Leo’s and Boxing Rock. And finally, I know I’ll be decorating my tree this year the same as I did last year, which was with a glass of warm Bulwark Winter Cider.