Juanita & Kelsey RoosColor de Vino
At Color de Vino, it’s all about family. The Edmonton-area wine and spirits boutique is owned and operated by the mother-daughter team of Juanita and Kelsey Roos. Juanita’s father built the fittings and Kelsey’s husband, Ramon Miranda, works there when he’s not serving at Corso 32, one of Canada’s Top 100 Restaurants. “We even have a dog in the store all the time,” Juanita says. “It gives it a different feel.”
That sense of family also encompasses their customers and many of the winemakers whose products they carry. “That’s our whole goal. Our atmosphere is so friendly,” shares Juanita, adding, “Wine is just wine. It’s not complicated. It shouldn’t be stuffy.”
Clearly, it’s a winning formula: In 2016, Color de Vino won the Alberta Liquor Store Association’s Greater Edmonton Retailer of the Year Award.
That said, opening a wine store wasn’t Juanita’s original plan. Opening a restaurant was. That was back in 1987, when Kelsey was still a baby. For a while, Juanita co-owned and operated a 32-seat café, but eventually decided to leave the restaurant business and focus on raising her young family. Then she started studying wine and fell in love with it. Shortly after that time she earned her Wine and Spirits Education Trust diploma, and she says, “All the stars aligned.”
She and Kelsey, now a mom herself, opened Color de Vino in September 2014 in the community of Mill Creek. Compared
to the big box stores that are scattered over Alberta, their store is tiny, only 1,000 sq ft, every inch of it lined with bottles.
“It’s sparkly. We have that cosy, eclectic feel. My dad built everything and he’s 75 years old,” Juanita explains. “We have over 1,000 wine skus and we have craft beer. We are packed floor to ceiling. We offer whatever we are most excited about.”
Color de Vino specializes in high-quality, but competitively priced, wine and spirits from around the world, especially from smaller, organic and biodynamic producers. “We have a lot of non-manipulated wine, actual farm-to-the-bottle wine. It’s clean fruit. I look for something that tastes good too,” Juanita says. She also carries intriguing spirits, things you won’t find everywhere, like Dillon’s Rose Gin, honeyed grappa, or even commercially-bottled cocktails.
Juanita also makes every effort to connect with her producers, visiting their vineyards when she can, hosting them in-store for tastings and tutorials, and essentially making them part of the family. “We’re trying to be that farmer’s market wine store,” she says with a laugh.
“We are packed floor to ceiling. We offer whatever we are most excited about.”
The Rooses also emphasize the importance of well-trained staff; every employee has some level of WSET training and they have a number of local chefs who work there part time.
Like other wine specialty stores, they offer free in-store tastings and private events, often led by visiting winemakers, which gives customers the opportunity not only to try new wines, but to meet the people who make them. For instance, they recently hosted a tasting of Slovenian wines, very rare in Canada, but so delicious. And, because they have so many culinary experts on staff and as customers, they’ve become especially well-known for their expert wine pairing recommendations.
Indeed, they even have a live chat program where customers can text them questions about what wines to order with their meal when they are at a restaurant. “That’s really fun for me,” Juanita says.
Another distinctive program they’ve launched is their case of the month, filled with 12 different hand-picked bottles of intriguing wines—like, say,an Italian vin santo, Uruguayan Tannat, old vines Aussie Shiraz, and a perky Pinot in a can—for a 12% discount.
It helps that the Mill Creek community has the perfect demographic for their store: younger, active, people who love to entertain almost as much as they like to support independent businesses like Color de Vino. “But one of my customers is 80 years old and she just buys beautiful wines,” Juanita adds.
Still, Juanita hopes to keep expanding her business beyond her neighbourhood, which is why she’s about to introduce an e-commerce site. “Launching an e-commerce site has been a big investment, but we’re trying to reach a little farther than the outskirts of Edmonton.”
And why not? We’re sure they’d love to join the family.