Wine lovers seeking a friendly environment to select their next favourite batch of wine need look no further than Squatter’s Creek Wines and Designs.
The family-run, ferment-on-premises u-brew, tucked in a convenient location with plenty of parking behind Quality Foods (103-4871 Joyce Avenue), offers a selection of 105 RJS wines, and the expertise to help clients choose the perfect variety.
“We’re customer service oriented,” says owner Kelly Munday. “I like to say: this is a no stress zone.”
Kelly and her family took over Squatter’s Creek three years ago, and the clean, boutique-style shop provides an oasis for seasoned connoisseurs and novices alike to make wines for the home cellar, or for special occasions.
Kelly says the first thing customers say when they enter the shop is: “It smells so good in here!”
Squatter’s Creek is an academy store with RJS, and specializes in selling and making RJS Craft Winemaking kits.
According to the company, the RJS Winemaking Academy “is a community of Canada’s leading craft winemaking retailers who represent the best and most passionate winemakers in the industry.”
RJS Craft Winemaking puts clients in the creator’s seat, empowering them to discover the joy and pride of personal winemaking and turning experiences into personalized creations to share with friends and family, from discovering wine that rewards each client’s taste profile, to a satisfying experience that continues beyond the store.
RJS Craft Winemaking is a division of Arterra Wines Canada, Canada’s leading producer and marketer of award-winning Canadian and imported wines. Varieties include Jackson-Triggs, Inniskillin, Sawmill Creek, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi, Ruffino and Kim Crawford.
Once clients select their juice, they have the flexibility to tailor each 30-bottle batch to suit their needs and preferences.
“If you have sulfite allergies, we won’t put them in,” explains Kelly. “You can control how much oak goes in, and add sweetener.”
And, new customers buying their first batch receive the first 30 bottles for free. Or, if new clients already have their own bottles, they receive a $20 discount.
Bottling each batch is a breeze as well, thanks to what Kelly describes as her “state-of-the-art, four-bottle filler.”
“We can do an entire carboy in less than five minutes,” she says.
Clients can also choose from a selection of labels and decorative tops to give each batch a unique look, an ideal feature if the bottles are for a special occasion. The store offers speciality wedding packages, with the option of 750-millilitre or 375 millilitre-sized bottles.
If a group of clients is bottling three or more batches of wine, Kelly provides them with a charcuterie board, free of charge.
Since August, customers have also been able to bring in their own fruit to be made into wine, at an average price of $150 per batch.
Kelly estimates 25 per cent of her customers are either new to the store or new to Powell River. Many, she adds, visit from much further afield.
“I’ve had clients from Alberta, Ontario and the United States,” she says. “A lot of people come during the summer.”
And, says Kelly, the store’s popularity boomed in 2019.
“We were at full capacity for several months; customers had to wait for an available time slot to make their wine,” she adds. “It’s been our busiest year to date.”
A customer wall of fame reflects the shop’s sociable atmosphere and special events.
One such event took place in October, when the shop hosted a restricted quantity taste-testing event. Kelly says 100 people showed up to sample benchmark equivalents of five new RQ wines being released this year, which include a Bonarda Syrah (January release), a Macabeo (January release), a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot (February release), a Pinot Noir/Shiraz (March release) and a Rosé (April release).
The event, the biggest hosted by Squatter’s Creek so far, included snacks and outdoor tables set up in the sunshine.
Even on “quiet” days, though, Kelly provides cheese, crackers and chocolate for clients while they sample their wine, at no extra charge.
The store is open Tuesday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pm. Saturday to Monday availability is by appointment.
Kelly can be reached at 604.485.7775.