B.C. Wine Culture

The bottles in the inaugural Apéro Chez Vous pack. Laura Starr photo

There is little respite these days sifting through emails that endlessly convey alarming news of this ongoing quarantine life, a reality that still seems surreal, and yet, some people have found a way to make light in the days of Covid-19.

A breath of fresh air arrived a few weeks back in the form of an email from Maude Renaud-Brisson of A P É R O Mode, who was launching her newest initiative, A P É R O Chez Vous, a monthly wine pack delivery service. With the notoriously suffocating (aka mafia-esque) liquor laws in B.C. having been relaxed (ever so slightly) during the quarantine, Maude jumped at the chance to bring to life an idea that had always existed in her mind but had always been weighed down in bureaucracy.

The monthly Apéro Chez Vous wine packs are delivered safely to your door. Laura Starr photo

Advertised as a no-commitment membership, purchasers would receive a mystery box of mixed wines selected by Maude herself, hand-delivered (safely) to your doorstep, and organized alongside playful, prescheduled zoom dates that feature meticulously curated guest speakers, such as industry favourites Jay Drysdale, the winemaker at Bella Wines, and sommelier Kristi Linneboe.

If you don’t already know Maude, she is one of the most passionate wine professionals on the west coast and she is beloved for it. She can fill a room with captivating stories of winemakers and terroir and reverence for quality and authenticity in wine, and she does it with a priceless jab of raw, French-Canadian sass. It is this reputation that resulted in an immediate sellout of her first wine pack, although I imagine if you had never heard of Maude, the concept itself would have still caught attention—mixed pack of hand delivered wine with zoom dates to ease our socially distant anxiety? Yes please!

But even before this, Maude has proven to be quick on her feet as a businesswoman and extremely adept at finding niche markets in the Vancouver wine world. Having worked many angles in the industry, from restaurants to sales to almost taking a position launching a new importing agency in Vancouver, Maude realized something was missing, not just in her own life, but in the Vancouver scene as well.

Maude Renaud-Brisson. Supplied photo

The idea of “pausing” during your day is intrinsic in French culture, and having grown up in Quebec, Maude remembers her parents taking a moment after work and before dinner to connect, with a sipper in hand. This opportunity to socially connect without a subsequent night of heavy drinking was nowhere to be found in Vancouver, and so began the evolution of what is now Maude’s company, APÉRO mode.

The inaugural Apéro event was a collaboration with Scott Mitchell and the team at AnnaLena, hosted in their sister restaurant, Their There. Requiring no commitment, you were invited to join from 5:00-8:00 pm to socialize and drink good wine—plus Maude added in the option of bringing your own bottle to share with the small corkage fee donated to the BC Hospitality Foundation (to date she has raised over $1,000!). It turned into a series of nights that drew in large crowds of like-minded wine lovers, and catching this wave of momentum, Maude swiftly expanded the concept, exploring other locations and partnering with local sommeliers and industry professionals to host Apéro events all over the city. Her collaborations continue to grow, and include projects such as Wine + Yoga nights, and a partnership with CAPS BC, called Apéro Connection, intended to foster nights of connection between industry professionals and up-and-comers, something Maude says took years to achieve on her own.

Maude now has her fingers in all sorts of different projects, collaborations, and Apéro events. Her desire to connect through wine is what drives her, and this authenticity is what enables such success in each of her ventures. Now, her capacity to adapt and creatively pivot is what gives her a leg up in the survival department these days—even in light of a pandemic, where she found herself unemployed and event-less for months to come, Maude spun on her heels and launched Apéro Chez Vous, her way of “coming to you” to safely socialize with wine via technology, come hell or high water.

Although she is not the only wine membership to emerge during this quarantine reality, the Apéro Chez Vous definitely contends as the most passionate and engaging, plus her story is one to remind us of what astonishing strength and durability our industry people possess. The capacity to retain your drive against all odds is exactly the kind of light we need to look for to help pull us out of what will surely go down as the darkest moments of this generation’s hospitality industry.

For that, we cheers you Maude!

For more information on Apéro Chez Vous, click here, or visit Instagram @aperomode

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