"This is literally an adult candy store," said a customer walking through San Antonio Winery's brand new tasting room and store. That sounds a bit pornographic, and it is, if you lust for seductive wines, olive oils, candies and other gastronomic playthings.
The new space opened September 6 after months of construction. It's more than triple the size of the previous tasting room, which was often so crowded that it was impossible to belly up to the counter.
San Antonio Winery vice president Steve Riboli sees it as a "cool place to hang out" for L.A's new young downtown dwellers. The 20- and 30-somethings are already hanging out at the bistro tucked into one corner. They're picking up turkey or Italian baguette sandwiches and cappuccinos or lounging with wine and a charcuterie plate from the handy deli counter. If they can't think of anything to say, they can at least talk about the giant stuffed giraffe that's standing there.
Plans are to stock the store with locally made products, and not just San Antonio wine, although there's plenty of that around. Right now, you can get anything from a sack of Homeboy tortilla strips to a $4,000 bottle of 2005 Petrus. If you're looking for a bargain, you can get the 2001 Petrus for only $1,495. Or a bottle of Italian rosso for $8.95, or a sweet San Antonio red for $6.95.
Spacious, with skylights like wine casks, the room is "easier to shop in, brighter, more consumer friendly," comments Riboli, who is thinking about weekly wine tastings as a venue for socializing. "We're trying to look ahead to the growth of downtown Los Angeles," he says.
If you haven't been to the winery lately and can't get in because a wall is in your way, go around the corner. The remodel includes a new entrance facing the parking lot.