Angeleno Wine Company Brings Back Los Angeles Wine Legacy

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The winery houses a new Chinatown tasting room, featuring wine made from nearby Agua Dulce vines.

Los Angeles is one of the most exciting places to drink wine, not only thanks to its proximity to California’s top wine regions, but also its place as America’s Best Food City. One of the most overlooked facts about Los Angeles, however, is the city’s legacy in California winemaking, especially compared to the reputation and volume of production in the Napa and Sonoma regions.

Angeleno Wine Company is the first winery to open in downtown LA in over 100 years. Its recent opening serves as a lens through which to examine the city’s history. “I love the idea that through this winery, we’re somehow connecting LA’s past with LA’s future,” says Jasper Dickson, co-founder of Angeleno Wine Company.

Although Dickson and his partner Amy Lufig Viste have been producing wines under the Angeleno name since 2015, what prompted the couple to build a facility – complete with a tasting room – was pure passion and devotion to celebrating wine roots. of the region.

In 1833, the aptly named Jean-Louis Vignes opened California’s first commercial winery, although winemaking has been prevalent in the region since the 1700s, initially to supply churches with communion wine made from mission grapes. Vignes named his winery El Aliso after the 60-foot sycamore tree that shaded the property, located where present-day Vignes Street meets Highway 101. (Once towering in the center of the village of Yanga, inhabited by the people indigenous Tongva before colonization set in, the tree was a sacred place where the chiefs of the neighboring villages met. He was 400 years old when he was shot in 1895.)

Many wineries in the city center and beyond, including in the San Gabriel Valley, flourished. So much so that the original seal of Los Angeles, used from 1854 to 1905, actually featured a bunch of grapes and leaves, identifying LA as the “city of vines”. Napa’s first commercial winery, on the other hand, did not open until the 1860s.

San Antonio Winery, which opened in 1917, is the last remaining winery within the city limits with historic roots in Los Angeles. Due to an agreement with the Catholic Church, San Antonio produced wine through an exemption granted for sacramental purposes, thereby avoiding prohibition. When Prohibition ended in 1933, there were only six wineries left in Los Angeles, and by the early 1960s, San Antonio was the only one. They’ve also since changed their sourcing, with grapes no longer sourced from Pasadena, Glendora and Burbank, but instead from Napa and Monterey counties and Paso Robles.

Jasper Dickson, co-founder of Angeleno Wine Company. Photo courtesy of Angeleno Wine Company.

Angeleno Wine Company owns approximately six acres of vineyards in Agua Dulce, northeast of Santa Clara and southeast of Lancaster. Its separate AVA, or American Vineyard Zone, used to demarcate wine regions, is called Sierra Pelona Valley – a 10-square-mile viticulture established in 2010. From there they harvest red and white grapes, with additional supply coming from Lodi. Their production is a modest 2,000 cases per year, with plans to keep production small and as convenient as possible, with the aim of increasing production to 5,000 cases. Dickson and Luftig Viste plan to source from other wineries to collaborate and keep things fresh.

Beyond permits and licenses, securing funds for their winery business proved difficult but inspiring. Dickson and Luftig Viste, both Silverlake Wine veterans, secured a loan from the Los Angeles Community Development Commission thanks to a successful pitch describing the history and return of wine culture to the city.

“We showed them the original seal of the city,” says Dickson.

They also raised funds through Kickstarter to make things work. And that was before their wine-loving friends and family signed up for regular expeditions. “Our wine club is a big part of the remaining solvency,” says Luftig Viste.

Angeleno wines are a perfect snapshot of what many enthusiasts are looking for today. They pride themselves on using unique varietals such as Graciano, Loureiro, Treixadura, and they are particularly jazzed up on Tannat, a grape native to the Basque country that is mostly grown on the border between France and Spain.

Angeleno wines are produced naturally, without seeding. The wines are also vegan – an important distinction as egg whites, fish protein and cow parts are normally used for ‘clarification’, the process by which unwanted solids are removed from wines before bottling. bottle.

“Gravity pulls all particles down,” says Luftig Viste, “that’s natural and yes, cheaper.”

The range of options available to customers of the Angeleno Wine Company. Photo courtesy of Angeleno Wine Company.

And the wines? Vibrant. Although Spanish wines are generally considered bold, those from Angeleno are balanced and complex – and each bottle is a tribute to the city. For example, their rosé, made from the Graciano grape, is named The Meadow after the park near Silver Lake Reservoir where Dickson and Luftig Viste spent many hours tasting wine. With prices ranging from $22 to $35, Angeleno guarantees the affordability of every delicious bottle.

It’s only fitting that the local community is an integral part of Angeleno Wine Company’s mission to bring winemaking back to the city. By funding locally planted vines and wine production next to Los Angeles Historic Park, they come full circle. It is particularly poignant that their establishment is located next to Mesnager and Willhardt streets – winemakers from a time when Los Angeles was known as the “city of vines”.

The Angeleno Wine Company tasting room is open Saturday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and weekdays by appointment.

TO VISIT

Angeleno Wine Company Tasting Room

1646 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90012

www.angelenowine.com

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