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

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

Photo courtesy of Abbotsford Police Department.
‘Vehicle Maintenance 101 for Teens’ to be hosted by Abbotsford Police traffic officers

Virtual meetups with Q&A period held on April 23, May 11, May 25

Stock photo from Unsplash.com
Free online workshops on ‘advance care planning’ hosted in Abbotsford

3 sessions hosted by Abbotsford Hospice Society and Association for Healthy Aging

People stroll through rows of tulips in bloom during the Tulips of the Valley Festival on May 2, 2017. The colourful spring event, now called Chilliwack Tulips, opens on Sunday, April 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack tulip attraction open this weekend after being closed last year due to COVID-19

More than 6.5 million bulbs in all at this year’s colourful Chilliwack Tulips event

The new American Eagle location at Highstreet Shopping Centre is set to open up this summer. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Abbotsford American Eagle store opening at Highstreet Shopping Centre

Sevenoaks Shopping Centre location closing on April 18, new store opening in summer

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
Vehicle ”aunched 100%’ into B.C. Walmart removed after trapped workers rescued

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Red dresses hang in the trees outside Nelson City Hall to remind us about missing and murdered Indigenous women. The REDress Project, created by the Winnipeg Métis artist Jaime Black, also exists as an exhibit in the Touchstones gallery, running until May 29. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Vogue features B.C. red dresses in honour of missing, murdered Indigenous women

The project by artist Jamie Black was featured in the fashion magazine

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read