We’re kicking off the summer with the Founders of Community Wines, Matt Stein & Blake Pearson. The duo launched their platform in 2020, and has since expanded into tastings & community events.
Community Wines will be launching its first party of the season at Bather’s Flagship location, 450 Dufferin St., on Saturday, May 27th, from 4 PM - 11 PM.
Introduce yourselves, how do you know each other?
Hey I’m Blake Pearson and I’m Matthew Stein, both Co-Founders of Community Wines.
BP: We met one night at a mutual friend's party when Matt was spinning. I chatted his ear off about dumb shit most of the night while he was trying to focus, no idea what gravitated me there. Definitely didn’t think we would become friends after that night.
MS: I’m a really good person so I looked past this terrible first impression…
What is Community Wines and how did you get started?
BP: Despite the bad first impression, we bonded over our shared interest in natural wines. Before COVID, the only way you could try these wines was at a restaurant or wine bar which is not that affordable. We wanted to be able to buy these wines to drink at home. So that led us to the idea for our curated wine-drops. We’d buy cases of wine directly from the distributor, which was the minimum order that you could buy at the time, keep a bottle or two for ourselves and sell the rest to friends at cost. This allowed us to try many new wines and also share them with our friends and others without breaking the bank. The goal wasn’t to make a profit, it really was just a labor of love to bring more fun wines into the city.
How did this evolve into events? How does music play a part in those?
MS: I think events were always part of the plan and bringing fun and unique music experiences to people is definitely a big part of the brand. As COVID restrictions opened up, the city really needed a good party. We were inspired by outdoor parties in NY like Nowadays and the Lot and wanted to bring that same feeling to Toronto. An outdoor, mid-afternoon block party in the summer just felt right. Our kind of party also gives DJs a setting to play differently than the norm for Toronto. House, Boogie, Reggae, Latin, etc. are all familiar sounds at our parties. I think not taking it all too seriously and just keeping it fun and light-hearted is key. Also, getting to showcase a bunch of the local DJs and giving them a different kind of platform really speaks to our ethos of ‘community’.
How do you think the natural wine space has changed over the last few years & where do you think it’s going next?
BP: For Toronto specifically, the space has changed a lot. Especially given the new rules legalizing bottle shops meaning you can get wine at places other than the LCBO. Every corner has a bottle shop or a cafe/store that is selling some kind of natural wine. It’s A LOT easier to find good wine in the city.
MS: I feel like the natural wine scene has really popped off since COVID which is a net positive but I do get why it has become a bit of a meme. It will be interesting to see if the city can support all of the new natural wine spots that have popped up in the last couple of years. I think that we take for granted how new and unfamiliar natural wine still is for most people, so I think the space still has room to grow as more people try it and learn about it.
Favourite Wines for the Summer?
BP: Typically speaking, we both love chilled earthy reds. For the summer, we like to switch it up a bit and go for more refreshing (and chuggable) wines, like fruity skin contacts, crispy whites and pet nats. This summer we’re pretty excited for the new Dlúhé Grefty and Konpira Maru wines. They’ll both be available at the Bather lot party ;)
When does the Bar open :) ?
MS: Stay tuned ;)