By Catherine Dunwoody

From one of Vancouver’s favourite scenester hot spots, the Lobby Lounge, to gorgeous new and acclaimed Botanist bar and restaurant, this woman in the wine world is a true game-changer.

The Botanist | Image courtesy of the Fairmont Pacific Rim

Where were you born and where did you study to be a sommelier?

Jill Spoor: [I was born in] Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. I studied in Vancouver at the Art Institute, studying the WSET program.

What was your most rewarding experience in your earlier days?

Spoor: Hosting a series of Italian wine seminars when we had our Italian wine bar here at the Fairmont Pacific Rim.  I absolutely love being on the educational side of wine and seminars, which allows me a platform in which to share my passion.

Are you involved with any new projects or collaborations at the restaurant or elsewhere?

Spoor: It’s been a very exciting year and I have had the honour of collaborating on many projects.  I released my own wine with the Okanagan Crush Pad this past February with all proceeds going to the BC Hospitality Foundation. I have also participated in All About Me, Ellevate, and Women in Wine which have been all female wine events. Most recently Botanist hosted its first Visa Infinite Dinner.

What were your biggest challenges as a sommelier?

Spoor: In my hotel world, it has been bringing wine programs to the forefront and communicating their importance.  It has been my mission from day one to elevate the quality, education and service of wine across the board.

What are a couple of your favourite wines?

Spoor: Just a couple, so many treasures to choose from! Well I will choose red then for the time of year:

  • BLANKbottle, The Life of a Black Valentine / Syrah / Cinsault / Grenache / Mourvedre / Western Cape, South Africa, 2015
  • Piaggia, Il Sasso, Sangiovese / Cabernet Sauvignon / 120Cabernet Franc / Carmignano / Tuscany, Italy, 2014
The Botanist | Image courtesy of the Fairmont Pacific Rim

Tell me about your all-female sommelier team at Botanist.

Spoor: Dreams really do come true! Not only do I have the first sommelier team at any Fairmont in BC but I have three superstars! It’s so exciting to be working with an all-female team that share the same passion that I do. It was really important to me to have the opportunity to mentor and develop young women in the industry. There is nothing more rewarding then being a leader and role model.

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