Private Wine Store Series: Cook St. Village Liquor

The interior of Cook Street Village Liquor. Photo by Deanna Ladret

In 2008, well-known Victoria wine pro Glenn Barlow opened the doors of his shop, Cook Street Village Liquor. Sister store to the Cadboro Bay shop BC Wineguys VQA Wine Store, Cook Street Village Liquor specializes in spec wines (not sold in Government Liquor Stores) and unusual beers and spirits from around the world, with an emphasis on “value wine under $30.”


Glen Barlow, Owner

The store has proved a labour of love for Barlow, who spent five years immersed in red-tape, jumping through hoops with developers before securing his discreet (not his first choice, he’d like to add) shop in the back corner of the new residential/commercial complex in the 200 block of Cook Street. Still, Barlow makes the most of his 700 square foot store, stocking over 1000 different wines, beers, and spirits. A veteran of the Vancouver Island food and beverage scene, Barlow has worked with a variety of high profile restaurants and industry professionals, developing wine programs and fostering community among his colleagues.


If you don’t dine out often, you may not recognize many of the labels on offer at Cook St. Village Liquor. That’s because over 80% of their stock is unavailable at government stores, often sourced from agents of obscure international wines. Rather than grouping wines by region, the stock is laid out according to varietal, with exceptions for distinct regions of the world with telltale styles such as Italy, Spain and France. The wine stock is heavy on the reds (reflecting demand), though they do have a well-represented white selection, mainly chilled in the refrigerators. As well, the constantly-revolving beer lineup changes with the seasons to complement the tastes of the neighbourhood customers and the employee feedback from the weekly staff tastings.


Rufus, resident dog.

The staff is composed of several ISG Level 2s, CAMRA members, drink bloggers, home brewers, and ex-Okanagan “cellar rats”, as Barlow puts it. Simply put, the staff love the drink, and are always eager to offer recommendations. A monthly e-newsletter informs customers of any new or noteworthy products. Also, check out their blog for news, tasting notes, and other info.


Name: Cook Street Village Liquor

Address: 230 Cook St. Village, Victoria

Phone: 250-995-2665

Hours: 10am-9pm daily


Twitter: @bcliquorguys


Parking: street parking or pay lot

Delivery: Free delivery for case orders; $10 fee for individual bottles

Employees: 15

Manager: Marcia Kurbis

Wine Buyer/Consultant: Glenn Barlow & Marcia Kurbis

# SKUS: 1000+, of which about 80% are spec

Store Focus/Specialty: Unusual, wholesale, international wines; value under $30

Public Tastings: Not currently

Membership/Loyalty program: No

Newsletter: Yes, via email (sign up in store). See also website blog.





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