Growing up as part of the Gabriel family, shopkeeping is in Vinoteca owner Emily Trebert's blood. Although Gabriel's was a local institution, occupying the storefronts along Fountain Street for over 60 years, it was never Emily's intention to set up right next door to her family's old shops on Le Bordage. In fact, Vinoteca started by accident. Emily shares how she wanted to explore the world, but a small vinoteca in a remote Alpine village made her long to return to Guernsey to carry on the family shopkeeping tradition.
Read Emily's story here.
My lifelong love affair with all things Italian was sparked by a school trip to Florence. Little did I know back then that, having later spent time living and working in Italy, I would return to set up my own ‘vinoteca’ business where I could share my passion for Italian food and wine on the doorstep of where shopkeeping first entered my blood.
I'm a firm believer in sometimes saying yes to opportunities and watching what happens, so when my husband and I had the opportunity to invest in a ramshackle house in a tiny and remote alpine village in Italy some 11 years ago, we jumped at the chance. Despite the population challenges facing many small villages, the beating heart of the community was a small vinoteca wine shop, where locals met visitors by the light of the fire to enjoy local produce and exceptional wine. The passion and conviviality of this little institution was something I longed to bring home, as more than a souvenir.
I decided I wanted to share my knowledge for Italian food and wine by opening a shop in town, and I’m proud to have grown Vinoteca into a colourful emporium filled with the inviting sights and smells of all things Italian.
There are the obvious perks of sampling a lot of food and wine but I genuinely adore the human contact that comes with running a traditional shop. It is an unexpected delight and actually an honour to have made so many friends through a little shop and to have been invited into people’s lives. We underestimate the power of real life conversation and the importance of human interaction. Yes, the shop isn’t central to town and buying is not as convenient as tapping the screen on a phone, but in my mind there is so much more to shopping than the mere transaction of paying for something we think we want.
People often ask if I have tried all of the wines in the shop and if I like them all. I have most certainly tried them all and there are only two I don't enjoy. I won't say which, but I will persevere with them!
I love sourcing new products and trips to Italy to do so are a real treat. I am passionate about supporting small producers and sourcing products that have been made with as little intervention and process as possible and that truly showcase the craftsmanship and quality of the product.
From hand-tied panettone to natural wine pressed by feet, there is always a delicious labour of love and story of passion behind our products. The arrival of new products into the shop is also a lot of fun, particularly at Christmas!
Running a small business is not without its challenges. Many people imagine my work persona to resemble a cross between Keith Floyd and Nigella. But whilst there are the odd moments like this (more Keith than Nigella, alas), the reality of running a small business sees many more less glamorous moments.
Whether trying to keep on top of spreadsheets - thank goodness for wine! - hauling boxes of food and wine into steamy restaurant kitchens or donning a high viz and hard hat to drive my van on to the docks, there is certainly much more ‘out of office’ craziness to the job than you might imagine.
As a family we spend a lot of time in Sark and cannot get enough of the outdoors and fresh air on our islands generally. I almost prefer the wild wintery months where the electricity of the weather illuminates our beautiful island in a way that is more rugged. As an importer from overseas however, I am reliant on boats and the weather does play havoc with deliveries, particularly when there is only one boat a week from Saint Malo. So near and yet so far!
When it comes to supporting our local community, I'm always keen. Although, I probably get asked every day to donate a bottle of wine to a fundraising cause. I truly wish that I could say yes to everyone, but I have to admit that any charity involving children or dogs always tugs hard on the heartstrings. In terms of events, my door is often adorned with adverts to showcase the talent of our amazing local artists. Feel free to drop by and leave me your poster.
I came back from my first school trip to Italy engaged to an Italian soldier!
We love a small business owner who operates from true passion. Emily is the real deal when it comes to Italian wine and food. She lives and breathes the culture, even when on Guernsey or Sark and not living la dolce vita in Italy. Her shop is authentically packed to the brim with Italian produce, from panettone to prosecco. And don't sleep on the fact that Emily will offer you a personalised wine pairing recommendation for your recipes or dinner parties. It's that personal touch that makes shopping local so important.
Looking for a particular type of Italian wine, or some Italian food pairings? With an unfaltering passion for wine, small producers and high quality, chemical free products, Emily is always delighted to share what she loves and welcome you into Vinoteca. Whether it's for a cosy night in, a special gathering or maybe even a wine tasting event, get in touch with the team at Vinoteca. They'll be happy to talk through the wide variety of food and drink they have in store - and they'll deliver straight to your door!