A Yaletown office that channels wine country (photos)

Upper Management
In his upstairs office, Jay Garnett analyzes potential products—new listings coming into the government stores or new wines to try.

Everybody on Board
The boardroom is used for everything from staff meetings to training sessions with suppliers. “Everybody from the accounting clerk on up comes to all the tastings,” says Jay Garnett. “Everything we do needs t

Kitchen Party
There is a full kitchen for serving cheese plates or hot appetizers at events, while creating an intimate atmosphere.

Lock and Leave

Since the office is open-plan, the staff cloakroom has lockers for personal items, as well as coat hooks and holders for print materials.

Table Hopping
Desks are draped for use as tasting stations at least three or four times a month. Twice a year, 100 to 150 people come to an open house for large portfolio tastings.

It took Jay Garnett a couple of years to find the perfect setting for his agency, Icon Fine Wine & Spirits, on Mainland Street in Yaletown. He wanted it to be central for his staff and clients as well as close to the BCLDB, restaurants, stores and the SkyTrain. “But the big thing is we wanted to have a feeling of a tasting room,” he says, “so that when we did events with our customers or had suppliers in town, we had a room that felt like you were at the winery—even though you’re really not in wine country.”

The 1911 building has 20-foot ceilings, exposed brick walls, polished concrete floors and massive beams. Garnett designed most of the interior himself, keeping it open, clean and simple, with pendant lights made from wine bottles. To highlight the beams and stairs, he opened up the mezzanine, previously used for storage, and created loft-style offices.

Most of the main floor is open-plan, with just a few enclosed offices for accounting and logistics. The salespeople work with laptops at raised desks that can be converted to tasting tables as necessary.

Natural light pours in through tall windows. Outside is a square with trees that are leafy in summer and lit up at Christmas. “Every Thursday there’s a farmers market in Yaletown that spills out right here, so it really has a great atmosphere for us,” says Garnett. “You go to a tasting room in the Okanagan or in any wine country, you feel connected. There’s people busy working and putting wine away, and people are relaxed because they’re on vacation. That’s the environment that we wanted to create.”