WineAlign moves west to British Columbia, linking to VQA Wine Stores
WineAlign, Canada’s largest wine review website, is ramping up its presence in British Columbia, adding the entire inventory of British Columbia’s 21 Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) stores to its searchable database, and publishing reviews and articles by four of the provinces most respected wine critics. Adding the ability to search VQA wine stores for inventory will allow BC residents to search on-line for availability of their favourite local labels, at their nearest VQA shop, and find out what top local experts have to say about them.
WineAlign was launched in Ontario in 2008 as a shopping tool to help wine buyers choose their wines well at LCBO stores. It expanded to BC in the spring of 2013 linking with British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB) inventories of both domestic and imported wines. At that time WineAlign announced that Anthony Gismondi, veteran wine columnist for the Vancouver Sun and co-host of Best of Food and Wine on AM650, had joined as the lead critic from BC and since March over 2,000 BC wine lovers have registered their support at www.winealign.com.
During the summer WineAlign also added three other prominent BC wine writers and educators to its roster of professional critics: Vancouver’s DJ Kearney, wine writer, educator and director of the Vancouver Magazine Wine Awards; Master of Wine, writer and educator Rhys Pender of the Similkameen Valley; and Treve Ring, a Victoria-based writer for SIP Northwest Magazine and EAT Magazine. Along with Mr. Gismondi, each BC critic will pen a monthly article on WineAlign and add reviews of BC and imported wines to the database. And together they will collaborate on a monthly selection of Best Buys in BC; with the first edition on value wines now published.
BC VQA wine store licences are owned by the BCWI with each store independently operated with hundreds of BC VQA wines available that are not carried by BCLDB stores. The largest BC VQA wine stores have over 500 different wines.
“We are very excited to be partnering with WineAlign to make BC VQA wines more accessible than ever to our valued customers,” explains BC Wine Institute President Miles Prodan. “We are extremely lucky to have such loyal local wine buyers in BC, and this interactive system will make it easier for them to find their favourite wines, share that information with fellow wine lovers and get up-to-date reviews from local experts. The best of BC VQA, all at your fingertips.“
To access the BC VQA wine store inventories users register at WineAlign with a BC postal code. They can set up their “Favourite Stores” in their profile, be it the store down the street, the store closest to the office, or the store closest to their favourite getaway spot. If a selected wine is not at their favourite store, a “Find Wine” function will take them to the next closest inventory, complete with a Google Map. When users find a wine they want to buy they can add it to their shopping list, add it to their own cellar, or share their find with friends. They can also write their own rating and review of the wine, and see how they align with the professional critics.
The addition of the BC VQA store inventory is the first time WineAlign has linked to a non-government wine retailer, and the first time that VQA stores will have a web-based inventory available to their customers. The potential to link with other private retailers in BC exists, but will be put on hold while WineAlign focuses on launching its service in Quebec in the months ahead under the name Chacun Son Vin. Top Quebec critics are already lined up to write in English and French.
“The unique nature of the BC wine market, a combination of both government and private wine retailers, is a two edge sword for consumers”. says Anthony Gismondi. “There is a lot of wine out there but on the private side little if any way to find out what is available. It is our intention to cover the market as closely as possible and we couldn’t be more pleased to be working with VQA wine stores who quickly grasped the idea that consumers only really want to know ‘How much is it and where can I buy it?’”
This year WineAlign also added two prestigious wine competitions to its portfolio: The National Wine Awards of Canada (which will be judged next year in Penticton), and the World Wine Awards of Canada, which seeks out the best domestic and imported wines under $50. The results of the 2013 Nationals are available on WineAlign using this link: National Wine Awards Results.