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Raising A Toast with Sean Gonzales

At The Wine Rack

with Christopher Reckord

Thursday, September 21, 2017

There are those who do it with much fanfare and then there are those who simply get on with it. Entrepreneur Sean Gonzales is one who gets on with it. He's a quiet, but major force in the culinary industry as a bar staff service provider, restaurateur and wine bar operator.


Chris Reckord (CR): Are you a longtime wine drinker?

Sean Gonzales (SG): Yes, my grandfather would give me a taste of Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry at a young age, after dinner. I would drink wine in my early 20s and was exposed to vineyards in Europe from the age of 20.


CR: How did you get involved in the wine business?

SG: This was a direct result of my catering business. My clients wanted a more exclusive experience from their service provider, wines that were not in supermarkets so their guests could not draw on-the-spot price comparisons, and wanting to deliver a better wine for the dollar. For my personal taste, it was the need to experience different wines.


CR: Did you have a wine 'aha' moment? That magical wine that made you think “Now I get it”.

SG: My friend Oz, now my business partner, used to import a Pomerol. I tasted this about six years ago. Already seven years in the bottle, it made me sit and think!


CR: What is your style of wine?

SG: All styles. Over the years I have developed both mentally and more sensorially an openness to differing styles. Most recently, rosés have also given me more to appreciate.


CR: Do you have a favourite wine?

SG: Too many to name.

CR: What's currently in the cooler?

SG: Chateau Villefranche (a Sauterne), Chateau du Montfaucon, Coco i Fiti Jaspre Negra.


CR: How often do you drink wine?

SG: Two to three nights a week, at least two glasses at a time, never during the day.


CR: Which wine countries have you visited?

SG: France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland (worked in a vineyard for a wine harvest there) and Australia.


CR: Where else would you like to visit?

SG: South America.


CR: What's new and exciting on the shelves of the Wine Shop Bar and Grill?

SG: Our Wine Xchange wine list of new arrivals with a cross-section of French, Spanish, and German wines. this new offer will expand in variety as time goes on.


CR: What's The Wine XChange?

SG: We offer wine enthusiasts an opportunity to buy into a large list of over 1,600 wines from the world over. We hope to double this range before year- end. There is a monthly buy-in offered from this list with no limit to the number of wines (you can order from one bottle up) or the budget per bottle (starting at US$18 per bottle up). All crafted wines from medium to small boutique vineyards. We know a large list can be daunting, but we also offer to choose wines for you based on your preferred wine profile. The nicest customers are the adventurous wine drinkers who will take their old favourite but may want to play with two or three bottles of a new grape, blend or wine grower. Collectors' wines of great vintages are also available though the Wine XChange. It is very exciting to have this wine availability outside of the local market.


CR: What are your thoughts on the local wine scene?

SG: It's emerging rapidly. We are seeing members of the younger generation turning to wine, and what is interesting is watching drinking trends change as the market evolves.


CR: How can we increase this buy-in?

SG: What we have done at the Wine Shop is invest in training, sharing our knowledge and taking the intimidation out of wine service, wine knowledge and wine etiquette. It is wonderful watching our guests as they taste and slowly begin to understand and appreciate the different styles of wine. The greatest feeling is seeing someone clearly and unabashedly pronounce that they have found a wine they love. sharing that 'aha' moment!



Christopher Reckord - Information Technology entrepreneur & wine enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram @chrisreckord and on Twitter: @Reckord