Tomato Wheels Makes Lambrusco for Everyone

Moirae Choquette’s upstart brand brings Emilia-Romagna to Canada.

Some wines have received image rehabilitations over the past few years. Chianti is no longer seen as cheap swill bought for its straw-covered fiasco bottle, German riesling has shed its identity as a sickly sweet wine packaged in bright blue bottles, and outlying regions of French wine country, such as Languedoc-Roussillon, are no longer makers of bulk table wine but legitimate regions with terroir worthy of expression. The most recent wine to have gone through image rehab, the sparkling red lambrusco from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, is only beginning to pick up steam in Canada. And thanks to Indigenous entrepreneur Moirae Choquette and her lambrusco brand Tomato Wheels, the wine is being introduced to Canadians in a refreshing, easy to understand way.

A pandemic pivot, Tomato Wheels is the product of Choquette making the best of a bad situation. Thanks to funding from the Airbnb Scholarship Program, Choquette was given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cook with, and learn from, chef David Chang at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy. When that experience was cancelled due to the onset of the pandemic, Choquette transitioned todeveloping Tomato Wheels.



The brand has gone through manychanges in the short time since its founding, all of them loosely centred around the kitchen. Before becoming a wine brand, Tomato Wheels was focused on sturdy acacia spoons and extra-absorbent kitchen towels. “The through line of all these pivots is that I’ve built my business in real time, and I’ve been really authentic, being like ‘I don’t know what I’m doing’,” Choquette says. “It’s the only wine I know. I’m scared of everything else. So I was like, ‘Great, I’m going to blow this wine up.’ So I just started diving into the wine world, and through connections I met Brad Royale.”

Royale, a wine consultant and sommelier, helped spearhead the hunt for good juice, and Choquette utilized her marketing savvy to develop a brand that appeals to today’s wine drinker. Immediately distinguishable on shelves, Tomato Wheels bucks the trend of the overwrought and overcomplicated labelling conventions Italian wines are notorious for. Spared of all the minutiae of region and subregion, classification and vintage, the Tomato Wheels drinker is instead presented with a label that is emotionally evocative, engaging the right rather than the left side of the brain. Thanks to Picasso-esque artwork from Lee Krek, Tomato Wheels begs drinkers to think of wine as a creative outlet, but that’s not to say that there isn’t substance to the juice as well.


The wine itself comes from a fourth-generation family winery in Emilia-Romagna, the heartland of lambrusco. The 85 per cent lambrusco salamino, 15 per cent malbo gentile blend bursts with well-known lambrusco qualities: ripe blue fruits, wildflowers, and pepper amongst them. But the most tantalizing flavour is the one Choquette describes as crème fraîche but can just as easily be called melted parmesan, the wine crackling like the cheese that has made the region famous. But who knows, perhaps with Choquette’s help the region will be known for an entirely different kind of wheel.

For now, Tomato Wheels Lambrusco is currently available in Alberta with plans to expand across other provinces in the near future.