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Parent Pairings: Back to School Edition

We’re so excited to watch the beautiful leaves fall, don our cozy sweaters, and wander the dog park without fighting the dog into snow booties. For anyone attending classes, teaching students, or paying for those things to happen (parents, you know what I’m talking about) we offer a toast to you!

Parents, we suggest starting September with an optimistic approach called wineglass half-full (or full, we’re not judging.) As the maker of meals, official chauffeur, number one fan and proudest cheerleader; these pairings were designed with you in mind!

1. For the parents perpetually stuck ferrying their rugrats between school and soccer practice, give your sip and snack a boost with a yogurt tube and the Annex Ale Project’s Norm-Core Pale Ale. Upgrade to a romantic evening by sharing the crushed granola bar from the bottom of your bag with your partner and antagonizing that referee as a family.

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2. September is a smorgasbord of postponed August birthday parties, not to mention all of the actual September birthdays! It’s go-time on the weekends, balancing multiple birthday parties and ballet before the sun sets on Saturday. Savour the delightful combination of a chocolate pudding cup and a fruity Malbec like the Humberto from Canale Estate, hidden in a travel mug, to remind you that weekends are supposed to be fun and relaxing. Layers of blueberry pie and vanilla in the wine will mix beautifully with the milky chocolate.

3. Too exhausted to make yourself a snack after staying up late to make your ungrateful kids their lunches? Munch those peanut butter and jelly sandwich crusts with a bold, jammy Cabernet Sauvignon like Vinovalie’s Terreo to match the fruit preserves and balance the acidity of the peanut butter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. On a crisp fall evening when you need a break, let the kids reign free in an unsupervised frenzy and take a moment for yourself. Sneak away with a peelable string cheese stick, and devour it as you slam and lock the bathroom door to keep their tiny, sticky fingers out. Open your secret bottle of Cab Sauv (we recommend strategically placing the Avia Cabernet Sauvignon all over the house) and run yourself a hot bath with some stolen, yet effervescent Paw Patrol bubble bath.

To help you survive the month, we’ve combined all of these delicious and necessary bottles into the perfect #ParentPairings mixed package, available to members now, at WineCollective.ca.

Students! You’ve slogged through twelve years of mandatory schooling, and now you’re making your higher-level path with post-secondary! With all of the lectures, labs, and late nights writing papers (or bonding with classmates,) we’ve paired classic comfort foods with fabulous alcohol! All hail grading on a curve!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Fall is here, and it’s time to replace the school supplies that disappeared over the summer! For the old school yellow pencil lovers out there, WineCollective Two is the beverage of choice. Sharpen your writing utensils and sip on the wine that surpasses all expectations (just like you, right?) This Shiraz is going to accent the mineral smell from pencil shavings and add a tart cranberry note with a hint of vanilla, to accentuate your hidden potential.

2. When your paper is due Friday evening, make sure you sustain yourself with some classic one-minute ramen. Boil the water, throw those crunchy noodles in a bowl, and prepare to scald yourself because it’s seriously hot! Pop open a bottle of Cuvée Jean-Paul to cool down and enjoy the matching savoury notes from the rustic herb flavour in the wine, with the mystery spice satchel from the ramen.

3. Proven* to help with synonyms when other words escape you, this pairing is a sure-fire hit for late night writing sessions (and asking for extensions!) Grab a slice of leftover pepperoni pizza, borrow your neighbour’s ice bucket and crack open a refreshing bottle of Più Gioia Pinot Grigio. Let the vegetal and herbal notes of the wine create a full meal with the microwaved tomato sauce and sausage playfully mingling.

When the cold frost blows across campus and getting to the dining hall involves crossing the vast Arctic tundra that now separates you from lunch, opt for the Asheville Brewing Ninja Porter instead! Hunker down somewhere warm and enjoy the roasted coffee to keep you awake, nutty chocolate for sustenance and sweet caramel as a bonus treat! A+ for this delicious combo.

*Pinot Grigio has not been verified against a thesaurus to help with synonyms but is recommended by 9/10 university alumni that work at WineCollective. (That last employee prefers reds.)


Last Minute Holiday Gifts

Let’s face it, the holidays have a way of sneaking up on us. That doesn’t mean that your loved ones and ‘besties’ aren’t important, but sometimes your best intentions of gifting the perfect present gets pushed to the last minute. While you have been busy attending school winter concerts, company parties, baking dozens of cookies and prepping for family feasts, we have put together some of the easiest and most enjoyable holiday gifts.

 

All gifts are available to purchase until December 31st – you have tons of time!

All gifts begin shipping in January – give them wine/beer when they need it the most!

12 month gift options – your present lasts all year!

Bonus *FREE bottle of wine/beer each month!

 

Wine Gifts from $149.99 – $1,549.99

 

Beer Gifts from $69.99 – $999.99

 

Eau Claire Distillery Cocktail Caddy $109.99

 

All Australian Wine package $149.99

 

 

 

*Free bottle is a $25 wine or $15 beer gift card included in each month, in the 2-12 month gift options.

 

 

 

 

 


Cheating on wine, with beer

Continuing to compare the similarities between beer and wine, we use some of the same framework when evaluating the style and quality. Appearance, aroma, body and finish all translate from wine to beer.

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With tasting beer, there is greater emphasis on the body and taste, less on colour and aroma. So, when you enjoy a brew, do you think about it the same way you might with a glass of wine?

If you always find yourself cracking open a Pilsner, what wine would suit your tastes? Or if you can’t get enough of Zinfandel, which beer style would you be equally enchanted with? WineCollective has taken key descriptors of beer styles and matched them to a corresponding wine.

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Lager = Pinot Grigio

Lager is a wide net that catches many different sub-categories. From an American light Lager (Coors and Kokanee) to Dark Lagers and Kolsch. Generally, medium to light bodied, with little malt aromas, neutral flavours and low bitterness (IBU). Think of the addition of stronger malt flavours as a more complex, barrel-fermented Pinot Gris.

Sours = Sparkling

Sours generally are light bodied, have low bitterness, moderate alcohol, and higher carbonation. Flavours range through dough, from the malt, and lemon to tart apple. Champagne, Prosecco, Cava and Cremant all offer the similar balance between acidity and sugars. Pair your Sours with the same sparkling pairings, like salty foods, shellfish and fried foods.

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Porter = Tempranillo

Porters are medium to full bodied with strong dark malts, sometimes with a slight burnt quality. Chocolate, coffee and grain, with a off-dry finish. Tempranillo from Toro or Rioja, where Reservas are aged in oak will give high alchohol and chewy weight.

Wheat = Chardonnay

A German Wheat beer has high carbonation and a dry finish. Expect a round, fluffy mouth-feel and medium/light body. Absence of bittering hops gives the perception of  ‘sweetness’. The minimum 50% malted wheat and yeast used give flavours of clove and banana. This style will be best replicated in a barrel-fermented Chardonnay, with a plush body and vanilla oak notes.

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Stout = Amarone

Made with dried grapes, produces high alchohol, rich bodied wines. Stouts will range between 8-12% abv and are full to very full bodied. The flavours indicative of Imperial Stout can often include roasted malt, tar and dried fruits like prune and raisin. The finish ranges from dry to moderately sweet.

Ale = Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon

Like the Lager, Ale is a wide category with many sub-styles based on the ingredients and origins. An American Brown Ale is a balance of solid malt and hops with chocolate and caramel flavours. We think that a refined and aged blend of Cab and Merlot also offers the richness and toasted/nutty notes of oak.

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IPA = Syrah

IPAs are distinguished by the strong bitterness. The hoppy bitterness of a standard American IPA ranges from 40-70 IBU (your palate can’t identify bitter units past 100). We wouldn’t classify wines by bitterness, but instead we will partner IPA with wines with equally bold characteristics in tannin, spice and body. Syrah, Aglianico or even Pinotage.

What is your go-to beer and favourite wine? Let’s see if we can find some correlation in our palates. Leave your comments below!

Interested in exploring Craft Beer even more? Don’t forget to check out Canada Craft Club!


Sommelier or Cicerone?

With the emerging and rapidly growing popularity of craft beer, you would think wine-os and beer geeks would find some common ground. Why is there such a divide, can’t we all just get along?

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In the US, breweries quickly multiplied through the early 1900’s, before prohibition killed most production. On average, two new breweries are opened per day in the US, setting the pace to pass the previous record of 4,131 in 1873. Hard to believe that just in 1983, there were only 80 breweries in operation. The craft beer trend has catapulted in the last two decades!

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No one is going to argue the growth of the craft beer movement, but what makes beer such a popular choice? Accessibility? Casual culture? Affordability? And why does someone need to identify with one alcohol over another, can you equally be a wino and a beer geek?

Wine and Craft Beer have much more in common than you might think.

  1.  Ancient production was handled mainly by monks.
  2. Beer (in northern regions) and wine (in southern regions) to hydrate troops instead of water.
  3. Both production was advanced with modern advances in biology and chemistry.
  4. The recipes are basically the same! Sugar (barley/grapes) + Yeast = alcohol & CO2

Not to mention, both industries have the same risks and hurdles: at the mercy of nature and production of agricultural crops, transport to markets is costly and timely, imposition of high taxation and finicky regulatory bodies.

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So lets stop the name calling. Wine lovers are not snobs and beer lovers aren’t just hipsters. We can appreciate both beer and wine equally without alienating our passion for either. Education is key to acceptance and understanding. Ask your bartender to challenge your palate with a Stout, or visit your local wine boutique to learn about Beaujolais Nouveau.

Resources for more Wine & Beer-ducation!

Or, visit our new friend, CanadaCraftClub.ca for monthly beer club shipments across Canada. Receive new brews each month with information on style and tasting notes!


Introducing Canada Craft Club

WineCollective is expanding it’s palate… to beer! For Craft Beer enthusiasts across Canada, we are thrilled to introduce, Canada Craft Club!

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Much like WineCollective, Canada Craft Club is an education subscription service aimed at providing members with unique, hard-to-find brews from around the world. Packages range from 2-6 large format beers per month (650mL & 750mL).

What do you get with Canada Craft Club?
1. Access to limited release, small distribution, exclusive and new-to-market brews!
2. Courier delivery to your door via Canada Post or FedEx.
3. Tasting cards on every Craft Beer that you receive, explaining unique details about the brewer and the style of beer.
4. Expertly selected beers retailing between $12 and $18.

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Canada Craft Club also has Holiday Packages! Select a package for a beer-loving friend anywhere across Canada, available until December 31st! These holiday gifts also include bonus value with additional perks and offers.

Who will love Canada Craft Club? 

– Beer enthusiasts who are looking for newest, coolest and tastiest

– People who want to learn more about beer – we provide all the information.

– Craft lovers who live in remote locations, with limited access to world-wide selections.

– Those overwhelmed with all of today’s Craft Beer choices. Let us do all the hard work for you!

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For any questions about Canada Craft Club, visit the website today, or email in at hello@canadacraftclub.ca

For WineCollective members wanting to join us in our beer adventure, use the coupon code WINEANDBEER for 10% off your purchase of a subscription or gift!

 


Summer Sipping: Radlers in Canada

The WineCollective not-so definitive ranking of Radlers, available at Highfield.

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The German Beer Institute (yes it exists) defines Radlermass (aka Radler in North America) a beverage that is a half-and-half mix of blond lager, usually Pils or Helles, and lemonade and/or fruit juice such as grapefruit. This drink originated in Bavaria in the early 20th century, but it is now bottled and canned premixed and available in all of Germany.

Literally, Radler means cyclist and mass means a litre of beer, which makes a little more sense when you discover their initial creation.

Radlers were invented by Franz Xaver Kugler, an innkeeper, who opened a bar outside of Munich in the late 1800s. After WWI, bicycle riding became very popular and Herr Kugler’s bar was on a popular bike path. As legend has it, Herr mixed lemon soda water with beer to improve his inventory of beer so to not run out.

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When mixing this lemon soda with his remaining beer at a 50/50 ratio, Herr proudly declared that he had invented this concoction deliberately just for the cyclists so that they would not fall off their bikes on their way home. He called the mixture a Radlermass.

This is not the first time beer had been mixed with other substances. Shandy in the UK is a mixture of beer and ginger beer and even in Canada we have beer mixed with a Caesar. However, the unique characteristics of an enjoyable blond lager and refreshing juice has made Radlers the go-to summer drink this year!

So, while WineCollective loves its summer wines (Rose is the appropriate answer here), we also love Radlers and have recently had a blind tasting of four of the most popular Radlers available at Highfield by WineCollective. This tasting was made up of twelve people who simply enough, tasted the radlers one at a time and identified the one they liked the most and the least.

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Winner: Waterloo Radler

Made in Ontario and recently awarded a gold medal from the 2015 Monde Selection, the Waterloo Radler was the big winner garnering the most first place votes. The Waterloo was significantly sweeter than some of the other radlers, and this is likely due to the addition of high fructose corn syrup to the mixture. Also, while it markets itself as “grapefruit” grape juice concentrate is actually the second ingredient. Waterloo was the only radler to not receive a “liked it the least” vote from our esteemed panel as well. It also has the highest alcohol level in the group at 3.1%.

Ingredients: Beer, Grape Juice Concentrate, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Grapefruit Juice Concentrate, Citric Acid, Flavour.

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Runner Up: Stiegl Radler

The German original, but not really because it’s actually Austrian. When most people think radlers they think Stiegl, as this is by far the most prevalent option out in the general public right now. This Austrian import was the runner up with the second most first place scores but also a couple of “liked it least” scores in there as well. A more polarizing radler made from Stiegl Goldbrau beer and lemonade. It is significantly less sweet than the Waterloo with more of a lemon, lime taste than grapefruit. Brewed in accordance with the Bavarian purity laws, this is a more straight up example of a radler.

Ingredients: Beer, Lemonade

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Third Place: Bavaria Grapefruit Radler 

Confusing all around. Not Bavarian, actually brewed in the Netherlands. Grapefruit radler, but actually shows it’s ingredients as lemonade with elderberry flavour. The lightest of the radlers, with only a 2.0% alcohol content. This one skated through in the middle, eliciting neither a love it or hate it sentiment from our dozen tasters. Only one person ranked it the best and one ranked it at the bottom, with no strong feelings either way.

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Fourth Place: Tree Brewing Grapefruit Radler

Now talk about polarizing! Brewed in Kelowna, the Tree Brewing Radler is a love it or hate it affair. Garnering almost solely “best” or “worst” ratings with only two tasters in between. Most tasters found the grapefruit taste to be too strong and too tart, which isn’t surprising given the ingredient list is: 50% grapefruit juice, 50% beer. That’s it. For full disclosure, this was my favourite radler, it was tarter and less sweet than the Waterloo and has just the right amount of kick coming in at 2.5%. You can also get 40% of your daily vitamin C intake with one of these.

Ingredients: Beer, Grapefruit juice

While the majority of our WineCollective tasters preferred the sweeter, higher alcohol Waterloo Radler (North American flavour profile anyone?) we found that all of the radlers here would be huge hits as the summer rolls on.

We stock a wide selection of radlers (including a couple not tasted here) in Highfield by WineCollective. Pop by and pick up one, or four, and enjoy them outside as the perfect drink for summer heat.


Win tickets to Beerfest!

Wine always comes first at WineCollective, but we also love beer! Both Calgary and Edmonton have upcoming beer festivals and we want to make sure you have no excuses not to go! You might not be a cicerone, but who doesn’t enjoy a cold one?

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Village Beer has released their new seasonal brew, Undertaker! Find it at Highfield and enter your name to win YYC Beer Fest tickets!

We have a specially created, unique coupon code that will give you 15% off your tickets. Enter the code, WINE15 when purchasing your tickets online for either the Calgary International Beerfest or the Edmonton Craft Beer Festival.

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The Calgary International Beerfest will be held at the BMO Center on Friday, May 1st and Saturday, May 2nd. There are several ticket options, weekend pass, VIP or general admission 1 day tickets. Your coupon code from WineCollective, WINE15, will give you 15% off any admission tickets.

If you are in Calgary, stop by Highfield by WineCollective and enter your name in a draw to win a pair of tickets to the Calgary International Beerfest. We will be drawing the lucky winners on Monday, April 27th. You can find several Beerfest breweries in store, including Ribstone Creek, Big Surf and our neighbours Village Brewery.

Not able to stop by Highfield by WineCollective? Do not worry, we have you covered. Simply tweet, instagram or Facebook us @WineCollective. We want to see a photo of you enjoying your favourite brew, do not forget to include #YYCBeerFest. We will enter all posts with this hashtag to win tickets to the Calgary International Beerfest.

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The Edmonton Craft Beer Festival is at the Expo Centre at Northlands on Friday, June 5th and Satuday June 6th. If you are in Edmonton, use the coupon code WINE15 to get 15% off your tickets. Stay tuned for free tickets in May!


Green beer or bubbles?

When given the choice of green beer or green Champagne, the WineCollective team will always reach for bubbles – even on Saint Patrick’s Day! While the Irish may be more famous for their beer intake over wine production, we think crafting flavourful green bubbly cocktails is a much better route than indulging in food colouring.

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Liqueurs like Midori and Crème de Menthe create a vibrant green colour that does not diminish when mixed with bubbly wines. So, for wine lovers looking to celebrate on March 17th with their Irish friends, here’s some delicious bubbly cocktails that won’t leave you feeling left out, should you choose to pass on green beer.

We’ve recommended both a sparkling wine and Champagne to use in these cocktails, both of which are available in the online store, and at Highfield by WineCollective.

Undurraga-Brut

Sparkling Wine: Undurraga Brut

WineCollective member price: $15.50

Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Orange blossoms, apricots, peaches and green pear aromas and flavours with vigorous yet delicate bubbles. Textured and weighty, this sparkling has all of the components necessary to stand out in a cocktail.

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Champagne: Liebart-Regnier Brut

Member price: $46.80

Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Citrus and pink grapefruit with apples and pears. Soft bubbles and a touch of minerality make this a complex and finessed Brut Champagne.

Midori Mimosa

Skip the OJ, Midori is a sweet melon liqueur that works as a mixer for this mimosa cocktail. Use the recommended dry sparkling or Champagnes, or similar styled bubbles, as the liqueur is sweet enough to lift the character of the wine.

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Pour 1 oz. of Midori into a Champagne flute and mix in 1/3 oz. sweet and sour bitters. Then, add 4 oz. of either Champagne or sparkling wine!

Minty Citrus Irishman

Ireland is not only known for its green lush meadows, but also its orchards and of course, WHISKY! This cocktail celebrates Ireland while of course, adding in some bubbly flair. Fruity, minty and green!

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Pour the wine into a flute glass about half way. Add 1 oz crème de menthe, 1 oz citrus or pear liqueur and 1 oz Irish Whisky (we recommend Writer’s Tears).

 

If you try a yummy green drink next Tuesday, be sure to send us a picture on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook. We love to see what our members are sipping on!

For the next week, March 10th – March 17th, members will receive 15% off all products mentioned in this blog including the Undurraga Brut, Liebart-Regnier Brut, and Writer’s Tears Irish Whisky at Highfield by WineCollective.

Even more, all Irish products will also be 15% off including Jameson Irish Whisky, Baileys and Guinness beer!

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! Sláinte!


Visiting Village Brewery

After moving in to our new store location this past summer, we realized that Highfield by WineCollective has one of the coolest neighbours in Calgary.

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Village Brewery just turned three years old this past December, yet their increasing popularity has made a great impact on the Calgary craft beer scene. Over my new favourite Village brew, Brunette, I got the chance to chat with communications and beer expert Jake on Village’s past, present and future.

“It takes a Village to raise a beer.”

Village is made up of 7 partners, including brew master, Larry Kerwin. From sales to dismantling old breweries, these guys have over 100 years of beer experience combined. Even with immense knowledge of the beer world, Village partners started spreading the word by door-knocking at local bars and pubs. They were after all, looking to create beer by and for the village people… of Calgary.

This spring, Village is reaching its 1000th brew. Its products are also now available through out Alberta through Liquor Connect. Through their milestones, the brewery remains dedicated to the Calgary scene. “Calgary is the market we brew for,” says Jake.

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Brews and beers

Several years ago, Village created their first beer, the Blonde. From that point, frequent additions have been made to their line up which now includes the Wit, Blacksmith, and Maiden. Seasonal brews such as the Brunette come and go, but with much popularity and pleading, the beer may become part of the everyday selections.

Creating new beers at Village is a very involved process. Brewers and partners of Village meet frequently to discuss upcoming trends and interests in order to decide on the next styles of beer to brew. However, it is always a family connection that forms the next character.

“Each beer is named after a character you would meet in a Village,” says Jake. “But that character comes from the story of a family member or friend as inspiration.”

For example, the delicious and dark Blacksmith was named after a great uncle of one of the brewers, who was of course, a blacksmith! Not only are the beers named after that connection, but the entire style of the beer and package design is created in their image. You can even find each story on the bottom of every Village beer and package.

Fresh, local beer

“Craft breweries don’t really see themselves as competition between each other, it is much more about getting market share away from mass produced beer,” says Jake. “Instead, we are driving people towards a higher quality product, made with better ingredients. Village is brewed locally, supports local jobs, and local economics.”

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The reason for craft beer’s popularity is because “the best beer is fresh beer.” Not only are you drinking a brew that was bottled days ago, Village also uses as many local ingredients as possible.

“We get great malts from our prairies and partner with Village gardeners who grow hops for us.” Jake says that local honey and lavender are also sourced, and in return, Village gives all of their spent grain to local farmers who use it for animal feed.

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Village Brewery does not stop at agriculture when it comes to supporting local initiatives. To start, 10% of all bottom sales go to local charities in support of the arts.

“We want to be a positive part of the Calgary community,” Jake says.

Each variety pack uses a different artist to create the artwork displayed on the case, and you can even find their information on the package. In addition, you will find numerous paintings and even Village Brewery merchandise around the brewery and tasting room, all of which are for sale with 100% of proceeds going back to the artist for their work.

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Visit!

You can now find all of Village’s products in Highfield by WineCollective, including their delicious growlers at discounted member pricing.

But, before or after your wine stop, take a turn around the corner. Village regularly hosts tours and tastings for only $15, including this upcoming Saturday, January 31.


What’s in store at Highfield by WineCollective?

By now you might have heard, WineCollective has a retail location in Calgary. We think that you should come visit us soon!

We have some of your favourite past WineCollective features available, as well as wines that were shipped recently in July’s packages.  You can also find wines never before featured on WineCollective, and some great finds from Tannic.

If you are unsure about a wine and have questions, Leah or Larissa will be available to help you find the perfect bottle. The handy WineCollective tasting cards will also be available, giving you tasting notes, producer information, and suggested food pairings.

If wine isn’t your thing, or you need to stock up on beer and spirits, we can help you out! There is an eclectic selection of domestic and foreign beers, as well as Canadian made Ungava Gin.

Remember, all WineCollective members receive 20% off their purchase until the end of August. If you are not a member and would like to join WineCollective, use the coupon code “NEWSTORE10” to receive $10 off your first shipment. There are lots of perks to being a member!

Our current store hours are:
Monday-Friday 10am-7pm
Saturday 12pm-4pm
Sundays Closed

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These guys are handy to have around, although we have been known to bang a bottle with a shoe or phone book!
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Some of our favourite past WineCollective features have been brought back and are available at Highfield Liquor by WineCollective.
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The Niepoort Vertente was shared with WineCollective members in their July packages. There are a few bottles left in the store!
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There is something for everyone, even exclusive offerings Truchard. The Reserve Cabernet is only available at Highfield Liquor by WineCollective.
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Wines that have been featured on Tannic, including Frias Family Vineyard, Trefethen Halo and Rudd.
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WineCollective tasting cards are available for all previously featured wines.
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Some of our favourite new arrivals!