Due to the arcane post-Prohibition liquor laws that prohibit working as both an importer and purveyor of booze, nobody in America can do what Vanya Filipovic does for a living in Montreal. But as the founder and owner of a Dame-Jeanne Imports—an import company that brings natural wine from across Europe to the province of Quebec—and the beverage director for the team behind Montreal’s celebrated restaurants Joe Beef, Le Vin Papillon and Mon Lapin, she views each role as an organic extension of the other. After working harvest in the Jura region in 2009, she spent three months visiting winemakers throughout France, returning to Canada with a profound awareness of how many of the wonderful natural wines she encountered during her travels weren’t available back home. That newfound sense of responsibility translated to her work at Joe Beef—an early touchstone of the city’s natural wine scene—where she helped to develop one of Montreal’s definitive natural-leaning lists. Now responsible for three lists, her job as an importer only enhance her ability to promote the hard work of the producers she loves—the electric expressions of chenin blanc from iconic Loire producer Jean-Pierre Robinot, for instance, or the vibrant reds of American Joy Kull’s La Villana winery—and complete the selections on offer at the beverage programs she oversees today.
So what is Filipovic up to when she’s not pouring minimal-intervention wines for the thirsty citizens of Montreal or scouring Europe in search of the next great addition to her lists? Here, she tackles our Lookbook Questionnaire to share her retirement plans, her personal hangover recovery regimen and her love of Radiohead. —Zachary Sussman
Founder, Dame-Jeanne Imports—importing artisan wines from all over the world. Wine director and partner at Joe Beef/ Le Vin Papillon/ Mon Lapin.
What do want to be when you grow up?
I’m fascinated by medicine, so in a different life I’d love to work in a field that helps heal people. In this lifetime—I’m pretty stoked with my current gigs, but I’d love to retire an old lady in a vineyard in the North of Italy, with chickens and goats and lots of persimmon trees.
Best thing you ever drank:
Crisp spring water from the Alps. Cold Hill Farmstead on a hot day. Vin Clair at Vincent Laval’s right off the plane.
Worst thing you ever drank:
I try to stay positive. And to drink beer when wine isn’t a spot’s forte.
First time you ever got drunk:
Why is Sambuca such a common answer? Is it a generation thing? It was Sambuca for me as well. Vermont. Bon Fire. High school. Voila.
If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A tie between Radiohead’s Amnesiac and Dennis Brown’s Love and Hate.
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
Not a lot of time for hobbies these days, but I dream of yoga, tennis and repertoire movies. Luckily, I love my job(s)!
What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
Be kind above all else.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
I’m a big fan of home + book + tea.
Your favorite bar, and why:
Honey Martin’s, Montreal.
Best meal you’ve ever had:
A tie between Abu Hassan falafel and L’Arpege during tomato season.
What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar? Wine bar?
Cocktail bar: Negroni. Wine bar: Grower Champagne.
In a dive bar?
Beer. Preferably Miller Light.
Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
Virgin Caesar, two eggs, bacon, potatoes + ketchup.
The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
Anything of an unnatural colour.
The last text message you sent:
The ‘OK’ hand sign emoji.