Open that Bottle...with Nathalie Gosselin
At university, Nathalie Gosselin had no idea that the twists and turns in her life would lead her to where she is today. She studied business, marketing, and retail management, and towards the end of her degree, met a boyfriend who was an adventurer and wanted to move to Australia. She really liked him, but wanted to graduate first. “So he waited for me for a year and a half,” she says, “and in 2003, we bought a camouflage-coloured troop carrier.”
They traveled round Australia in it for a year until they ran out of money and time, then returned to their hometown of Montreal, but didn't want to settle back there. They moved to Banff for a couple of years, before separating.
Gosselin started at the Banff Centre in 2004 as a sales coordinator for the conference department, then was promoted to conference services manager. “So that's when I started learning a bit more about wine, because I was working with the banquet team and the chef team,” she says. “I was drinking wine. I did really like it, but it was never something I thought I would ever do [as a career].”
In 2009, Gosselin was promoted again to manage all the conference services managers. “It was a turning year for me,” she says. “I did a one-week leadership development program called Building Personal Leadership. It was not about managing people, it was about learning about yourself and how to be a good leader.”
It changed her life; by the end of that week she had decided to open a wine store in five years: “The plan was to work with Banquet a little bit more closely to get to know the industry. I went to the Okanagan again, and took wine courses.”
Gosselin started working part-time in a wine store in Cochrane, and took WSET courses, where she met her business partner. They opened Vine Styles in Kensington exactly a year later, in 2014, though towards the end of their five-year lease, things were changing, and she bought him out.
“We started the wine club in 2016, and we went from 80 people before COVID to 155 people now,” she says. “People were excited to get those four bottles a month. They wanted to know what we had picked for them, and they're getting a great deal.”
“The way we organize the store makes people comfortable trying a new wine because it fits in a style that they're comfortable with; the style concept gives them that additional safety net - they don't need to know everything about the grape or about the winemaking technique,” Gosselin continues. “It’s not just a wine store, it’s a community. During COVID, people had opportunity to get great wines at crazy deals, but they still wanted to come to us because they wanted to make sure that we were continuing that relationship. And for me, that's what community is.”
So what bottle is Gosselin saving for a special occasion?
“I love champagne, and when I met my partner, one of the first things he said was, “I don't really like sparkling wine.” And I thought, ‘can I actually do this?’ And then I realized it means every time we open champagne, I get most of it.” she laughs.
Day-to-day, Gosselin admits that she doesn’t drink much champagne, but one of the first bottles that her partner really loved was Oeil de Perdrix (which, because of the colour, means ‘eye of the partridge’), from Jean Vesselle.
“We fell in love because of wine and our passion for it, and he proposed a couple of months ago with Oeil de Perdrix,” Gosselin continues. “This is their step up, their Grand Cru 2009. I just love everything about this producer, and the love and passion that comes from them. Passion is such a recurring theme in my life, and it felt so appropriate that I found the vintage that changed my life. We're going to be opening it for our wedding next summer with our family and friends. Obviously we might need more than one bottle!”