Chris Turyk, Marketing Director, stands outside the tasting room at Unsworth Vineyards. Don Denton photo

Secrets and Lives Interview with Chris Turyk

Marketing Director and Sommelier at Unsworth Vineyards talks wine and food

  • Apr. 7, 2021 7:30 a.m.

– Story by Angela Cowan Photography by Don Denton

Currently holding the titles of marketing director and sommelier at Unsworth Vineyards in the Cowichan Valley, Chris Turyk has been involved with the family-run business since its inception. Tim and Colleen Turyk (Chris’s parents) bought the land and a sweet old farmhouse in 2009 with the idea of trying their hand at winemaking. It quickly grew into a much larger enterprise than they’d anticipated.

“We had no idea or thoughts to creating this size of business,” says Chris. “It wasn’t the grand plan, but it took on a life of its own, and there was no going back.”

A food lover from an early age, Chris always envisioned working in the industry, and initially thought he’d end up in the kitchen of his own restaurant.

He studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley, but made the shift to wine after a short time.

“I wanted to become a chef, and then I realized my ability to taste things exceeded my ability to create them,” he says, laughing. “I think the wine aspect came from the food. I realized they were complementary.”

It was in 2014 that wine as a career really took off after Chris decided to enter into the inaugural Best Sommelier in BC competition, organized by the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers. After an impressive showing—in which he placed third for the province—he was promptly offered a sommelier job at Hawksworth, four-time winner of Best Upscale Restaurant in Vancouver.

It was an opportunity that was supposed to last a year, and ended up being two and a half.

“It was an unbelievable experience,” says Chris, who formally left the restaurant in 2017, but continued to help out occasionally when hands were needed for another year.

Shortly thereafter, he found himself in a practicum at the UBC farm.

“I remember thinking, ‘who else gets to do this?’”

Going between a “small-scale, very socially aware, very liberal” environment like the farm, and a top-end eatery like Hawksworth, “gives you a wide perspective,” says Chris.

Being exposed to the incredible variety of extremely high-end wines while also learning about grape agriculture and growing practices gave him an invaluable education that’s served him well.

“You get a bit of everything, and you can speak to what’s important to different people,” he says. Whether that’s explaining the sustainable farming practices Unsworth employs to younger generations of environmentally aware wine drinkers, or being able to talk about the specific notes in each wine with people who have been enjoying a glass of vino for decades, Chris is able to connect with everyone across the board.

And now that he’s stepped into the marketing role, he’s added another piece to the puzzle.

“Even 18 months ago, I wasn’t expecting to be in a marketing role,” says Chris. “But I like chatting to people. I’ve wanted to teach wine classes for a while, and marketing is basically education on what we do, and why it’s important.”

I’ve wanted to teach wine classes for a while, and marketing is basically education on what we do, and why it’s important.”

The 7 Sins

Envy:

Whose shoes would you like to walk in?

Since I already walk in John Fluevog’s shoes, that question really forces me to think. Purely for the experience of such a high-consequence environment, being in the work boots of a cellar hand at a hyper premium winery has always interested me. Moving or dealing with wine that retails at $5,000 per bottle means every ounce is roughly $200, so, no mistakes.

Gluttony:

What is the food you could eat over and over again?

Pork. The humble and noble pig has a very special place in my diet. To sum it all up in one word: bacon.

Greed:

You’re given $1 million that you have to spend selfishly. What would you spend it on?

I would get one million $1 USD bills, then fill a kids’ pool and swim around Scrooge McDuck style.

Wrath:

Pet peeves?

Socks with sandals. I thought, as a civilization, we were better than that.

Sloth:

Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?

Does work count?

Pride:

What is the one thing you’re secretly proud of?

I can recite all the chemical elements of the periodic table to the tune of a recognizable song from The Pirates of Penzance.

Lust:

What makes your heart beat faster?

What is adrenaline? As a relatively excitable person, often I focus on the opposite. Taking little moments throughout the day to observe and enjoy where I am and who I’m with pays dividends not only for me, but mostly for those around me.

Story courtesy of Boulevard Magazine, a Black Press Media publication

Like Boulevard Magazine on Facebook and follow them on Instagram

BC WineFoodFood and Drinkwine

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The proposed renovations at the Quesnel Rec Centre. (CRD Drawing)
CRD approves Quesnel pool referendum date

Voters will be asked to approve borrowing $20 million to upgrade Quesnel Rec Centre

CNC’s Applied Research and Innovation had partnered with the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Cariboo Agricultural Research Alliance and Mackin Creek Farm after receiving funding from the Canadian Agricultural Partnership to research a number of solutions potentially extending northern growing seasons. (Photo submitted)
Ways to extend growing season in B.C.’s north explored by College of New Caledonia in Quesnel

Low-cost supplemental LED lighting appears to benefit plant growth

Ecosystem restoration burn planned northwest of Quesnel near Neewa Creek

Burning will take place between April 19 and 30, 2021

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: B.C. lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

Premier John Horgan receives a dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the pharmacy in James Bay Thrifty’s Foods in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, April 16, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. Premier John Horgan gets AstraZeneca shot, encourages others

27% of residents in B.C. have now been vaccinated against COVID-19

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

Since April 4, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Vancouver the largest source of domestic flights with COVID-19 cases: data

This month alone, 38 flights with COVID-19 cases have departed from Vancouver International Airport, while 23 arrived

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Most Read