Willow Park Wine and Spirits’ retail director shares the bottle of champagne she’s saving for a special occasion

Photo by Ingrid Kuenzel

Erin Rosar arrived in Calgary from Toronto in 1991 after finishing school, a few years after her father was transferred here.

A hospitality course at Humber College and some work at Ryerson had led to her being hired at Disney to work atEpcot Centre, but Rosar turned it down as she’d met a snowboarder in Calgary, “which seemed like a good idea to come out here for”. It didn’t last, but it got her out west.

She was a manager at Moxies in 1992, before getting married and having kids (the boys are now 19, 17 and 13 years), but eventually, as Rosar explains, “Thomas the Train was sucking the brain out of my head and I needed to be away from Harold the Helicopter, so I looked into wine courses.”

“For eight Tuesdays I would be away from my children, and that was the original catalyst. It was something I was interested in,” she adds, “but I didn’t take the course thinking it would spur on a new career, I didn’t think it would become a life passion, I just needed to get out and be around grown-up people. Like any great love, it had me before I realised that I could ever live without it.”

In the middle of a divorce, Rosar went to UC Davies, taking courses in wine chemistry and viticulture, and started to travel. “There was a theme in all of it, but it was a perfect zigzag to where I ended up. There was no plan. I just loved it,” she says. “There was not one part of it that said stop. My career had a life force of it’s own”.

Calgary Co-op came knocking looking for ideas on tasting rooms as, for eight years, she had taught many of their managers their ISG diplomas. “They came to me and that turned into a two and half year gig, developing the sommelier program, private locker program, website and social media, and it was really exciting. It was busy and fun.”

Then Rosar was offered a position at Willow Park Wines and Spirits. “I joked, what would I do for you?” she laughs. They created a brand new role for her, “And now to come at twenty years, with an amazing new store renovation coming into place that will blow the socks off everybody! There’s so much to play with, it’s a big sparkly carrot – or sparkly glass of wine, I guess!”

So what bottle is Erin saving for a special occasion?

“My girl, she’s been my girl since the first time we met fifteen years ago, is the Salon Champagne. It’s the most elegant, feminine bottle of Champagne I know. Any grand occasion, she’s my go-to. Kind of like your little black dress that’s THAT dress, this is THE wine.”

And when will Erin open her bottle of 1997 Salon Champagne? “If the day is right,” she says, “or if I ever get married again – she’s my girl. She’s a classic like Chanel.”

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