• Laura Milnes

Wine bar guide by city: Calgary

Calgary likely doesn't elicit an image of a chic wine bar. You know the kind - dimly lit, hidden in a narrow alley, where only the knowing model and hipster types donned in Études crowd the bar. They lackadaisically sip pet nat from a can while discussing mousiness and its reminiscence of spunk.

Instead you might imagine cowboys roaming the streets, maybe even on horseback. (I legitimately had a friend once tell me this is what she expected when she visited the city for the first time).

Alberta is a pretty special province, booze wise. The government control boards are a thing of the past and the industry is entirely privatised. What does that mean? They have the best, most affordable and biggest selection of alcohol in all of Canada since they're not at the behest of government levies or control.

I consulted some of my wine industry pals - Erik Mercier of Juice Imports, Tony Migliarese of Pizza Face and Julie Graham of Home Decanter - for some of their go to spots in the city.


Where: 7200 8 Ave SE

Web: https://teatro.ca/

Social: @teatrorestaurant

Tony on Teatro: "The mecca of wine in Calgary."

This was one of my favourite spots to hang out at when I lived in Calgary. Sure, it's super pricey for a meal, but I almost never dined there - I'd just saddle up to the bar and have a few glasses of wine before I was heading to a concert or show downtown. The bartenders are *insanely* knowledgeable and their wine list is to die for. An unlikely spot to go "hang by the bar" but it's seriously worth it. You will learn something new each and every time you go.

Photo: Contributed

Photo: Contributed


Where: 306 17 ave SW

Web: http://pigeonholeyyc.ca/

Social: @pigeonholeyyc

Erik on Pigeonhole: "Likely the best selection of natural wines in the city, really kind and caring staff."

Described as a "refuge in Victoria Park", specializing in natural, farm to table fare. They are now offering breakfast Wednesday through Sunday.

Photo: Contributed

Photo: Contributed

Bar Von Der Fels

Where: 1005A 1st Street SW

Web: http://www.barvonderfels.com/

Social: @barvonderfels

Erik on BVDF: "Best all around list, a selection of both natural and old school conventional, incredibly knowledgeable staff and great food."

Opened in September 2016 by Will Trow and Thomas Dahlgren - an inaugural venture, having met through mutual friends in wine circles and social media. Bar Von Der Fels is a tiny 24 seat restaurant - unusual for Calgary. No wine list is offered - instead an array of bottles are opened, allowing guests to pick based on what their mood strikes. Small plates of seasonal Canadian fare and the best giant ribeyes in the city make up Doug King's menu (formerly from Pigeonhole and Kissa Tanto).

Photo: Contributed

Photo: Contributed

Photo: Contributed


Where: 616 17 Ave SW

Web: http://www.frenchieyyc.com/

Social: @frenchiewinebar

Tony: "One of the only true wine bars."

Frenchie is a small, 20 seat wine bar located through UNA Takeaway and behind Bread & Circus Trattoria. Their wine list features small, unique producers made predominantly naturally, organically and biodynamically. The food menu features house made charcuterie and cheese that rotates weekly from their friends at Peasant Cheese Shop.

Photo: Contributed

Photo: Contributed

Photo: Contributed

Wine Bar Kensington

Where: 1131 Kensington Rd NW

Web: http://winebarkensington.com/

Social: @winebarkensi

Julie on WBK: "It's one of the originals and a lot of people behind it are industry. Non pretentious, cozy, and very good food."

WineBar Kensington can really only be described as one of the OG's of the Calgary wine scene. They've been around for 10 or so years, operating on the basis of simplicity and timelessness. For that reason, they'll never go out of style.

Photo: Contributed

Photo: Contributed

Pizza Face

Where: changes weekly

Web: n/a

Social: @pizzafaceyyc on Instagram for details on next events

Described as a nomad pizzeria, specializing in New York style pizza. To date, pop ups have been hosted at Pin Bar, Cannibale, The Tea House and Diner Deluxe. Each space is converted into an old school Italian pizza joint including checker table cloths, old school candles and an accordion player.

A permanent residency at Bar Von Der Fels will commence every Sunday starting September 8th.

A dollar from each pizza sold goes to Mealshare.

Photo: Contributed

Photo: Contributed

Photo: Contributed

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