The rustic time-worn lines of an early 20th-century pond boat, its canvas sails gently wrinkled and slightly yellowed with age, catch your attention as you walk through a pair of massive reclaimed redwood doors, which were part of a demolished train trestle in Utah in their previous life. Your eye wanders to a striking cobalt blue 19th-century European demijohn, and you leaf through a book on the flea markets of Paris from the pile resting atop a mahogany Edwardian cellist chair with fruitwood inlay. Silver mid-19th century Moroccan sugar boxes, post–Second World War German soda bottles upcycled as vases and filled with a profusion of flowers, rich wooden Spanish olive trays circa 1875. It is a diverse collection of unique items that would be at home in any well-curated antiques store. Yet each of these treasures is hand-selected for the wine shop at Mission Hill Family Estate Winery by retail director David Amos. They are skillfully woven into an aesthetic fabric that tells the tale of their award-winning wines.
Amos embarks on buying trips to Toronto, New York, California, and Europe five or six times a year to source unique pieces for the winery’s retail shop. His background in luxury retail—the likes of Louis Vuitton and Holt Renfrew—has honed his ability to discern the singular value of a specific piece. “I can walk into a store and right away know exactly what I want. We endeavour to do things on a world-class level, and I’m seeking things that people from any country would be thrilled to find,” he says. Most important is how each item relates to Mission Hill’s wine. “Whatever I choose, first and foremost, it’s always about the wine. Each one has a different story to tell. And the care, attention, and detail that goes into each varietal, right down to the packaging and the labels, offer me inspiration on the pieces I select and how I display the merchandise.”
“Rough, rustic, and refined, nothing too perfect” is Amos’s guiding principle, a seeming contradiction in terms that accurately capture Mission Hill’s design philosophy. It’s referenced in the architecture, a seamless blend of classical and modern influences evoking a sense of continuity and timelessness. And it’s reflected in the numerous antiquities from proprietor Anthony von Mandl’s personal collection that are displayed throughout the winery—distinctive touch points facilitating sensory and emotional connections to the tradition of winemaking that traces back to the beginnings of human history.
Guests discover an extraordinary grouping of ancient pottery vessels dramatically backlit and displayed deep underground in von Mandl’s personal gated wine vault. The collection includes drinking cups from the Greek empire and Chinese pouring vessels from three different dynasties including Han and Liao; the oldest piece is authenticated to the early Bronze Age, circa 2800 BC.
Juxtaposed with these remarkable antiquities are the affordable luxuries that Amos has chosen for the winery shop. He covers a broad spectrum of price points, seeking pieces that will resonate with the winery’s diverse array of visitors. Straight out of a black-and-white film, there are reproduction First World War French ballon rouge wine glasses for just $9 each. Amos also singles out “beautiful little French sap pots, circa 1870. No two are the same and they’re very odd. I imagine them sitting in somebody’s kitchen with some herbs in them, and they’re only $30 apiece.” And there’s a small handmade MCM train case at the opposite end of the price spectrum ($1,800), noteworthy for its provenance from this luxury German leather brand’s inaugural production year and for the monogrammed plaque that confirms its use as Sammy Davis Jr.’s personal makeup case. “Our aim is to surprise and delight our guests, to facilitate their process of discovery, to give them a level of experience that they’re not expecting at a B.C. winery,” says Amos. He hopes that people are inspired to commemorate their visit by bringing a special piece of the Mission Hill story home with them that will continue to tell its tales long after the last drop of wine has been savoured.