Wednesday, 22 October 2014

iYellow #WinemakerRaw Toronto

I seem to meet people everywhere nowadays. I was out with my friend for drinks at the Harbord Room the other day and, of course, she was late (you know who you are). And so I struck up a conversation with the gentlemen beside me. Somewhere in the mix I mentioned Britton Diaries and Tran, who was next to me, excitedly told me all about the iYellow Wine Club, with which he works as a wine blogger.

I'm always ready to give my opinion on food but I'm pretty unsure when it comes to wine. I think I can confidently discern what I like, and what I don't like, but I wouldn't know where to begin in describing my tastes.

The iYellow Wine Club reached out to me and extended an invite to their #WinemakerRaw event. It was a lovely opportunity to try some Flat Roof Manor wines of the South African estate, Uitkyk, which I will have you mention, only I was able to pronounce. This won me a particularly yummy Pinot Grigio and ultimate bragging rights.

The iYellow Wine Cave, so aptly named, has a distinctly speak-easy feel nestled along Queen West, but hidden from the main strip. You get to the Cave through the back alley and enter through a graffitied door with the iYellow logo.

I should maybe stop here and explain why it's called "iYellow." The iYellow Wine Club gets its name from its founder, Angela Aiello. Go on, say her last name aloud you'll see what I mean.

The Wine Cave itself is a stylishly decorated basement. It's dark and intimate and charming. The iYellow Wine Club is a place where you can taste wines from all over the world, learn about the wines you love and meet other wine lovers! The wine club plans regular events, tours and wine school classes for you to attend a la carte and you can also learn on your own via their website.

The iYellow Wine Club is creating a new movement in wine here in Toronto. Aiello's aim is to make wine, and wine-knowledge more accessible. She wishes to build people's confidence and after speaking to a few of the club's members it's clear to me that iYellow is doing just that. "I learned more in one hour than I have all year" Aiello quotes a member.

I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Estelle Lourens, the winemaker of Uitkyk Wine Estate. Did you know that South Africa has been making wines for 350 years? The estate, Lourens explains, is better represented overseas by Flat Roof Manor, a much more pronounceable name for those not familiar with any Germanic language. She went on to explain that the topography of South Africa is really the key to the region's success: it varies so considerably that a great many types of grape grow well there. She was appointed as winemaker to Uitkyk in 2000, and under her guidance Flat Roof Manor has been in the LCBO since 2006.

After my touring of the venue and talking with Aiello's team I'm genuinely interested in the work done with iYellow. I love the educational stance taken, but also the accessible approach. Too often I'm stuck in the wine section looking at the number of labels as a judge of a wine's character. I'm intrigued by the idea of becoming a little connoisseur, and Ajay and I have gotten in the habit of escaping to wine country, but the knowledge has always seemed just out of grasp. Something that only an abundance of free time and a life of luxury could afford me. But iYellow challenges that notion.

Membership is free and gets you on their e-newsletter which lets you in on all the juicy (haha, get it?) events held in the cave. The club currently boasts 10,000+ members and is growing every day. Their events are not only a great way to learn about wine, but meet interesting people. Check them out!

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