Published On: Tuesday, 24 July 2018
Vessel Liquor Store Educates Victoria Beverage Community
VICTORIA - Vessel Liquor Store is educating the masses.
The locally owned and operated outlet is offering regular beer and wine classes to their customers.
Owner/operator Ross Borland started the business in 2015, after over 25 years of experience in the hospitality industry.
“I always had that entrepreneurial desire,” he says. “I did a business admin program in college with a focus on running my own business, so it was always in the back of my mind.”
With years of managing hotels, pubs, and liquor stores, Borland gained hands-on knowledge of the wine industry, including some formalized education through the International Sommelier Guild (ISG).
“It took about two years to find a license, location, and all the other components of opening the business,” he says. “There was a lack of private liquor stores in our area, so we saw an opportunity here.”
Vessel fills a unique niche in its industry, offering multiple classes for consumers and staff every month.
“We have a classroom upstairs, and we’re starting to do more advanced classes,” says Borland. “We have a few regular customers who’ve been participating in our classes regularly, and are wanting to explore a little more.”
Borland wants his employees to be as knowledgeable as possible when it comes to the product they carry, so Vessel offers professional Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) education for all his employees.
“We carry around 3,000 products, so if a customer sees a wine from somewhere like Austria and wants to know more, our employees need to be able to explain the product,” he says.
This accreditation program is offered to the community at large, making the business a hub for the beverage community in Victoria.
They offer training to other industry professionals, with an option to further their education through the WSET program in Vancouver.
“A lot of employees end up moving on to bigger and better things,” says Borland. “They have an opportunity to meet wine reps, principles of wineries, and other industry professionals.”
Vessel Liquor Store also has a big focus on craft brewery products.
“Wine and craft beer are our two main focuses as a business,” says Borland. “When we were in the process of starting the business, we went really heavy into craft beer.
“It took two years to get our project off the ground, and in those two years, craft beer had just exploded. We didn’t realize it would be so popular, so it worked out well for us.”
Since their beginnings, they have expanded their cooler offerings twice to meet the growing demand for craft beer.
Over the past couple of years, Vessel has been recognized by both the Victoria Times Colonist and Victoria News as top in their list of three best wine stores.
“We’re very community oriented, and we want to connect with customers,” says Borland.
“That’s the vision and goal of the company.”