TORONTO — Wine was the order of the day at George Brown College earlier this week as it hosted its second-annual Wine Symposium featuring wine tastings seminars and a variety of speakers. The theme of this year’s event was The Business of Wine in the New Global Economy: an exploration of trends in the world of wine.
The day kicked off with a keynote address by Stephen Spurrier, chairman of the Decanter World Wine Awards, who provided his perspective spanning 55 years of experience in the wine industry. Spurrier, who was educated at the London School of Economics, joined the wine trade in 1964 in London before moving to Paris in 1970, where he purchased Les Caves de la Madeleine — a small wine shop in the centre of Paris. In 1973 he opened L’Academie du Vin, the first independent wine school in France. He’s best known, however, for creating the tasting between top chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon wines from California and France in 1976 — subsequently known as “The Judgement of Paris.”
Spurrier spoke about the importance of storytelling in making wines successful. “Fifty per cent of selling wine is having a story about it. If the wine is good and the price is right and it has a story, it should sell well,” he said, adding that wine tourism is a fast-growing industry. “If people come and are well received at the winery, the reason they will buy the wine is to remember the visit, not because it’s cheaper.”
“The road [to wine appreciation] is long and twisted, but with knowledge we will arrive at our destination,” he said, stressing the more one knows about wine, the more one can appreciate it.
Spurrier has won myriad awards throughout his legendary career. Recently, he and his wife Bella have planted a vineyard on their farm in south Dorset and are producing English sparkling wine under the name Bride Valley.