White Spot's Warren Erhart
The White Spot restaurant chain, which
sells about 10,000 cases a year, has launched a wine list exclusively made up
of BC VQA wines.
“It is such a fit for us,” White Spot
president Warren Erhart says. “Nobody buys more local food products than White
The legendary chain, which was started in
1928 by Nat Bailey, now has 124 locations. Most are in British
Columbia but there also are White Spots in Alberta
and in Asia.
Dedicated to supporting local suppliers,
White Spot each year buys -- among other products -- 5,000,000 pounds of
potatoes, 675,000 pounds of tomatoes and 73,000 pounds of blueberries from British Columbia
An all-British Columbia wine list, Erhart says, “is a
natural extension for us.”
The restaurant chain has played it safe
with its initial wine list, which consists of familiar varietals from
Inniskillin Okanagan Varietal Series Pinot
Inniskillin Okanagan Varietal Series
Jackson-Triggs Reserve Select Sauvignon
Mission Hill Five Vineyards Chardonnay
Mission Hill Five Vineyards Cabernet Merlot
Red Rooster Merlot
Jackson-Triggs Reserve Select Shiraz
Peller Family Series Sauvignon Blanc
Peller Family Series Chardonnay
Peller Family Series Merlot
Erhart is open to expanding the list,
perhaps with season specials. “You’ll see more wines added to the list,” he
says. He expects that White Spot will increase its wine sales by 10% this year
just by featuring only British
Columbia wines. Wine currently accounts for about 25%
of White Spot’s sales of beverage alcohol.
He expects the wines will not only appeal
to local residents but also the many tourists who dine at White Spot.
Consumers can bring their own wine as well
now that British Columbia
is allowing guests to take their own to so-called “participating” restaurants.
Restaurants that agree to the “bring your own wine” program have begun to
announce the corkage fees they will charge for serving wines brought in by
The corkage charge at White Spot is $10, in
tune with the restaurant’s good value philosophy. That is at the low end of the
corkage charges that are being levied.
A list can be found at www.bccorkagefees.blogspot.ca. The most common corkage fee is $20, although
there are other restaurateurs that, like White Spot, have value-oriented
corkage fees. The Thai House chain of restaurants has settled on $12.
The most aggressive corkage fee $60 at the
Bearfoot Bistro in Whistler, which already has one of the best wine lists in British Columbia.
Bearfoot Bistro is not the sort of restaurant to which one would take a bottle
of Two Buck Chuck. If they bring their own wine to this restaurant, the high-roller
patrons are more likely to show up with special bottles like Château Pétrus, so
expensive that the corkage charge would be a trifle.