Ladner's Grapes 4 U has once again raked in the accolades at the 2011 Wine Maker International Amateur Wine Competition.
This year the locally owned and operated U-brew wine shop entered 117 bottles in the annual competition in Manchester, Vermont, and came away with 44 medals, including U-Vint of the Year.
This is the second year Grapes 4 U has taken home the U-Vint of the Year award, which is given to the winemaking supply store whose customers outperformed other similar shops.
The entries were all made and bottled by either customers or staff at the Ladner operation.
The competition received 4,235 entries from five countries. A total of 965 judging hours were used over the three-day competition, the largest of its kind in the world.
Three different judges assessed each entry and, while judging can be subjective, Grapes 4 U owner Don Stewart said the professional feedback is useful.
"It's just sort of a fun thing," he said.
And fun is the name of the game at the store.
"That's the whole thing, to make it fun," he said, adding staff members try to make the whole process a social one for customers.
U-brew shops have helped make the process easier for people who want to make wine but avoid the mess and some of the work that goes along with it. Under provincial regulations, the customer is obligated to add the yeast to start the fermentation process as well as bottle and cork the wine once its done, which can take several weeks, depending on the type. Staff members at Grapes 4 U take care of the rest.
While the wine is all made from kits, Stewart said they have the ability to blend different kinds to come up with a more unique product in the end and cater to a client's specific tastes.
"My primary benchmark for suggesting any wine to a customer is based on 19 years of history of what people have told me they like," he said.
The store has many loyal customers who keep coming back for the great service.
In addition to making wine, the store also sells supplies for the home vintner and prints custom wine bottle labels.
Grapes 4 U is located at 150-4857 Elliot St. For more information call 604-940-WINE (9463) or visit www.grapes4u.com.