River Street Red on liquor store shelves
The story of Moose Jaw’s infamous tunnels and the city’s alleged connection to gangster Al Capone has spread across the world thanks to Moose Jaw’s thriving tourist industry. That story is gaining further traction in a rather unusual place—in the wine section of various liquor stores across Saskatchewan and British Columbia. That’s because former Moose Javian Stan Sagal has been selling a new wine known as River Street Red. The wine is designed to promote Moose Jaw’s story and its colourful past. Sagal, a wine lover, knew the story was worth telling. “My neighbour two doors down owns a small winery. I was on the deck one night and he was telling me about his wine business,” said Sagal. “And I said, ‘You know, there’s a story in Moose Jaw that I would like to promote...There is something that we could do here.’ And that’s how it all started.” Sagal’s neighbour makes the wine. He does not own any orchards because he is known as a négociant, which means he purchases grapes and then produces the wine and sells it under his own name. The bottle describes the Cabernet Merlot wine as being made with 50 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 50 per cent Merlot grapes. It is also described as having dark cherry and plum flavours with subtle tannins. “When we first started this, we wanted to do it topnotch,” said Sagal, who notes that he has received great feedback thus far. “Especially in Saskatchewan everything has been very good. The Liquor Board has been very good to us and has been good to work with. Obviously Moose Jaw is my biggest selling area. It is very highly competitive now in the wine industry; in B.C. here in our area there are 140 wineries and everybody is fighting for space on the shelf. So we’re quite happy to have a space on the shelf.” Perhaps the most noticeable aspect of the wine is the bottle itself, with its colourful and unique label. Given the highly competitive nature of the industry, it’s no doubt a positive for River Street Red that it stands out so well on the shelf. The label features a caricature of Al Capone and was drawn by noted caricaturist, Kerry Waghorn, who is renowned for his work at the San Francisco Chronicle alongside other greats such as Gary Larson (The Far Side) and Charles Schultz (Peanuts). “We knew we were going to do everything top-notch on this [project] so we went to him,” said Sagal. Certainly, it is a process making the wine and getting it onto the shelf, but it has clearly been worth it. River Street Red is just another way that Moose Jaw’s infamy is spreading and wine connoisseurs will certainly appreciate Sagal’s effort. “We wanted to do it first-class and we’re picking our wines to be the best wines. We’re promoting Moose Jaw because there is a real good story there and it needed to be promoted,” said Sagal. “Our business plan was to stick with a high grade wine.” River Street Red is currently available at the Liquor Board store, located at 5 Manitoba St. E. in the former CPR station. For more information on River Street Red, visit www.bountycellars.com.