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

Highway 97A in Armstrong was closed in both directions Monday afternoon, just after 4 p.m., due to a serious accident at Rosedale Avenue. (Bob Dunbar photo)
No merge lanes needed on Armstrong’s Highway 97 access points: ministry

Transportation Ministry reviews accident reports, slope stability with city staff

Donna Kaufmann was named the 2021 Rotary RCMP Volunteer of the Year. (RCMP)
Vernon RCMP volunteer of the year named

Donna Kaufmann dubbed winner for positive impact on community

Lauren Marchand and her daughter at the head of Okanagan Lake in Syilx territory, where they often go to gather, play and be in ceremony. Photo by Kelsie Kilawna
‘I don’t feel safe’: RCMP, social worker searched Syilx mother’s home without her knowledge

RCMP searched the home looking for a meth lab, that was never found inside the residence

Tom Smithwick has written a new book, Knocking On Freedom’s Door, about his experiences advocating for a drug addiction treatment program in Kelowna. (File photo)
‘Knocking On Freedom’s Door’: A retired Kelowna lawyer’s insights to mental illness, addiction

Freedom’s Doors advocate Tom Smithwick shares what he has learned from experiences of treatment program clients in new book

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

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

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

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus.[CDC]
More COVID-19 exposures reported at schools in Kelowna

Interior Health added additional schools and dates to their list of exposures

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

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 launched into B.C. Walmart removed following rescue of trapped workers

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

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

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

Most Read