Private Wine Store Series: Vintage Spirits

Interior of Vintage Spirits

At first glance, the inside of Vintage Spirits resembles a beautiful curiosity shop. Bottles are stuffed into virtually every nook and cranny, wooden crates have been turned into extra shelving and asting notes taped here and there. Okay, the aisles might be wider, and the wine is actually very organized in its own way, but all the neat treasures making browsing this shop a genuine treat.


Located in the Rialto Hotel, Vintage Spirits occupies the space of the old Dugout, a rough n’ tumble establishment that conjured less-than-stellar sidewalk images in years past. After three years in business, Vintage Spirits can certainly take credit for redeeming that space, and along with the hotel and Veneto Tapa Lounge, have turned the corner of Douglas and Pandora into a destination rather than an area to avoid.


According to Manager Ceri Barlow, the store specializes in “the weird and the wonderful.” More specifically, Barlow fancies just about anything from Vancouver Island, as well as wines, beers, and spirits that are obscure or hard to find – like a 1999 Chateau Musar from Lebanon or quirky bottles of rum-infused ginger beer from Jamaica – and is willing to order just about any product her customers request. New and unusual items are, of course, hit or miss (they’ve got lots of Alaska Distillery Smoked Salmon Vodka left, if there are any takers).


One of the most wonderful things about Vintage Spirits is their well-stocked Value Under $20 wine section. Packed with an astounding variety of wines from across the world, including plenty of BC picks, the section is straightforwardly split into Whites and Reds.


Barlow, who does all the buying for the store, is a WSET III Sommelier. Though her expertise lies in wine and spirits, Barlow is also an avid beer fan, and makes sure the coolers are always well stocked with all kinds of fun products from Victoria microbreweries to the far reaches of the globe.


“A lot of my buying is for personal pleasure,” Barlow laughs, “It’s like my own little cellar.” A little cellar that stocks over 4000 different products? If her home cellar is bigger, I’m moving in.


Address: 653 Pandora Avenue (at Douglas)

Phone: (250) 383-4161

Hours: 9:00am-11:00pm 7 days/week


Twitter: @vintage_spirits


Parking: 10 minute Hotel Zone out front and meter parking on street

Delivery: Yes, on cases within downtown (and with notice)

# Staff: 10

Manager: Ceri Barlow

Wine Buyer/Consultant: Ceri Barlow

# SKUS: 4000+

Store Focus/Specialties: Value under $20, Vancouver Island, unusual

Staff Training: Company subsidized wine & spirits courses

Membership: No

Newsletter: Working on it, see website for blog

Tastings: Yes, stay tuned via website for weekend tastings this summer

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