Fresh City’s director of alcohol curation and head sommelier, Jennifer Huether, sommelier, Ran Goel
Fresh City is now in the wine and beer business.
The omni-channel grocer and urban farm has opened the Fresh City Bottle Shop adjacent to its retail location at Bay and Gerrard in downtown Toronto. The shop spotlights local producers that are committed to sustainability and uphold the values of “terroir,” or sense of place.
The idea for the Bottle Shop traces back to the early years of Fresh City, says Ran Goel, who founded the business as a city farm in Toronto in 2011, before expanding into retail stores. “I saw a big connection between the idea of terroir, which is very much manifested in wine, and growing food and trying to give it a sense of place and identity, as well as a sense of pride in what we grow here in our Ontario.”
Goel wanted to include wines in the offering early on, but regulations at the time didn’t make that feasible. However, during the pandemic, some regulations were loosened and Goel pursued the opportunity.
Fresh City Bottle Shop features a rotating lineup of products that aren’t typically found (or given a big footprint) at other wine or liquor retailers, such as organic, biodynamic and vegan offerings. There’s also a selection of craft beer and cider, and all products are also available online via Fresh City’s home delivery service.
The offerings are selected by Fresh City’s director of alcohol curation and head sommelier, Jennifer Huether, who joined the company this past spring and is notably Canada’s first female master sommelier.
“Jennifer is obviously a trailblazer, but she has a huge focus on sustainability and local sourcing,” says Goel. “Certainly, that will be the program’s focus whether it’s wine, beer or spirits. The aim is really to highlight the best of what Ontario and Canada has to offer.”
In a press release, Huether said Fresh City was crafting a tasting experience like no other in the GTA. “We’re expanding our passion for sustainability, quality and taste to this curation,” she said. “Each offering is selected with a pairing and consumption experience in mind.”
Fresh City currently has eight retail locations between three brands: Fresh City; Mabel’s Bakery, which it acquired in 2018; and The Healthy Butcher, which it acquired in 2019.