Raise your wineglass if you have dreamt of a wine bar in the heart of Steveston village with an ambience that makes you feel like you are in Paris, London, Madrid or Rome.
This is exactly what owners Sascha Kuypers and David Silva thought was missing in the community they have called home for nine years. The pair have travelled extensively in Europe and lived in London. They admit they are foodies and know a lot about wine.
Both David and Sascha studied wine at the International Sommelier Guild, while Sascha took additional courses at the Wine and Spirits Education Trust. She also worked for several years at a fine wine store.
They are aware many Stevestonites are looking for a cosmopolitan experience close to home. The couple’s vision was to create an atmosphere that would be reminiscent of wine bars they enjoyed in Europe, and offer locals an opportunity to walk or drive a short distance to The Porthole.
Tucked off of No. 1 Road near Heringers, The Porthole opened in early April. It is located in the former home of The Market at Papi’s.
“We live here, work here, eat here, our kids go to school here.” David Silva
Transforming the space required a major renovation and David and Sascha were active participants. The Porthole’s social media sites chronicle the journey, from major floor work required to install a washroom (complete with its very own skylight) to tiling, painting and construction of the bar.
The result is aesthetically pleasing. An intimate atmosphere is created through design choices that include charcoal grey walls, white subway tiles and industrial pendant lighting hung over tables, along with a coveted window seat couch, which is a popular spot to sit. Wooden boxes behind the bar display some of the featured wines and interspersed among the shelving is nautical decor – all objects have stories behind them. Female customers notice and enjoy the absence of televisions in the wine bar.
Cleverly named, The Porthole ties in Steveston’s maritime location and also subtly references one of the beverages you will find on the drink list.
The Porthole offers wine on tap. David comments, “Our wines on tap ensure the wine is always at its peak. Customers can also be assured that they won’t be drinking any wines that have gone off from sitting on the shelf. We also have wines for sale by the bottle too.”
Sascha says, “We won’t carry the big brands. Our focus will be on small, boutique wineries where the winemaker is heavily involved in all aspects of growing and production.” She adds, “Our wine list is growing all the time. We will have more wines from France, Spain, Portugal and Italy, as well as from Oregon and California.”
“The Porthole is casual, eclectic, artsy, with a dose of whimsy. We’ve had many repeat customers already – all locals – which is a good sign.” Sascha Kuypers
Customer feedback has been extremely positive. The wine bar has been compared to being in Italy, a compliment that is music to David and Sascha’s ears. People are impressed with the great selection of wine by the glass or bottle. One customer says, “They certainly know their wine and craft beer too. The bits and bites are high quality, artfully plated and delicious.”
The Porthole’s cook, Andreas Ohrt, has worked in the industry for several years.
Sascha says, “We specialize in many classic tapas such as almogrote gomero (a Spanish manchego and tomato dip), to fun share plates such as gribiche with sardines, charcuterie plates, and labneh with za’atar spiced flat bread.”
Some recipes come from David’s Portuguese grandmother, Rosa, who passed away many years ago. “Her piri-piri chicken was the best. But mine’s pretty good too,” David reports.
The owners take pride in the relaxed vibe The Porthole offers up. David says, “There’s no attitude. We aren’t wine snobs. Everyone should feel welcome to try a wine without feeling they have to pronounce the name correctly.”
He concludes, “This is for the locals. We want to be heavily involved in the community. We are very community oriented and plan to participate in local events and charity drives.”
While the exterior signage is being completed, look for the mermaid logo (designed by Sascha) on The Porthole’s street side sandwich boards that will direct you to Steveston’s new hidden gem. A taste of Europe awaits you.
130-12251 No. 1 Road
Richmond, BC V7E 1T6