I’m not saying it is his personal mission to outshine the other personalities in attendance, it’s just that Vino Vic does not have to put any effort into standing out. This passionate wine enthusiast has made a name for himself in Pennsylvania by bringing the oft-pretentious world of wine to the streets, and promoting the state’s best selections through his series of oenophile-meets-layman videos and social media campaigns.
Vino Vic, as he is known, is the Joe Six Pack of the PA wine scene. In a style he calls blue collar, Victor Ykoruk, a resident of Harleysville, walks the novice through the state’s variety of vintages without any of that fancy “wine lingo”, as he puts it. It’s in this approachable style that Victor’s popularity on the Internet has soared. When combined with his incredible passion and ambition (andhe adds cheekily, his staggering good looks) Vino Vic is a force that cannot be ignored by the state’s wine community.
Attendees of the June 9th event, hosted by the Myrick Conservation Center on Unionville Wawaset Road, will be treated to wines from a variety of local vineyards, as well as statewide selections. The Brandywine Valley Wine Trail members – Black Walnut Winery, Chaddsford Winery, Kreutz Creek Vineyard, Paradocx Vineyard, Penns Woods Winery, Patone Cellars and Twin Brook Winery – will be joined by Allegro Vineyards, Flickerwood Cellars, Galer Estate Vineyard, Grace Winery, Kog Hill Winery, Karamoor Estate Wines and Peace Valley Winery.
Of the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail’s member offerings, Victor is a big fan of Paradocx Vineyard’s Touriga Nationale. He explains that it’s a Spanish type of grape especially tough to grow in our region, and describes the wine as a “quasi-, pseudo-port”. There are only 3-4 cases of this remaining, a wine the expert calls ‘amazing’. While quantities may be too limited to make an appearance at the June 9 event, Victor encourages everyone to get their hands on a bottle before it sells out. Other Pennsylvania favorites include the 2005 Meritage from Penns Woods, and the Cadenza from Allegro, which Vino Vic calls their Cadillac wine, a “phenomenal Bordeaux style blend”.
You’re probably wondering what makes Victor Ykoruk such an authority on wine. After all, he makes no claims to be a globe trotting sommelier… what is it that makes people pay attention to the man who goes by Vino Vic?
Victor began his career in the food and beverage industry working for about six years as a casual dining manager. He then forayed into corporate dining, working for Merck until he was laid off from that position, and was then hired by Merck proper. Shortly after the birth of his twin sons he was laid off by the company a second time. Victor took on the role of a stay at home dad, and like so many home-bound parents, his entrepreneurial spirit experienced an awakening.
Victor and his wife had been part of a casual wine club for about eight years. It was casual only in its membership requirements: the club took its monthly tastings quite seriously. About three years in, which would be five years ago give or take, Victor began a website to track the club’s tasting rosters. The group was an intellectual bunch; Victor was the only member that was not a scientist. Victor was special in that group much the way he would become in the larger wine-drinking community: it was his down to earth, blue collar charm that set him apart. The gang gave him the nickname Vino Vic, and it stuck. He bought the domain name, and things started happening from there.
Building on his infectious passion and singular personality, Victor expanded his project to become a promoter of Pennsylvania wines. His mission became convincing people to give the state’s wineries a chance and to overcome the stigma attached to PA wines. “Where people make the mistake is comparing PA wines to other regions and countries, and you can’t do that—it’s like apples and oranges” he says. Although there are some contenders in the national arena, including Victor’s choice the 2008 Cabernet Franc from Karamoor Estate, a Fort Washington winery. Victor claims this batch is “straight out of France” and at around $20 per bottle, the champion of any Frenchie head to head.
With his growing success and notoriety within the PA wine community, craft beer companies have now come calling, and Victor is happily expanding his brand. He has added consulting and alternative marketing as well as hand-to-hand selling to his empire of wine reviews and guided tastings. His website can be found at vinovic.com and is full of video wine reviews, winery links and information, and testimonials for Victor’s services, consulting firm, and of course, photos of his ‘incredibly handsome’ personhood.
If you can’t make the event on June 9th, we highly recommend forming your own casual wine club and booking Vino Vic for your next meeting. But, in the meantime, meet him in the promotional video below discussing Saturday’s first-ever event.
All photographs courtesy of and credited to Vino Vic.