It might seem as if Los Angeles has become lousy with specialty wine shops (thank goodness) over the past five years. But dead zones remain, and plenty of Angelenos clamor to have a great store within a mile or so of their home. Enter Domaine LA at the northwest corner of Melrose Avenue and Mansfield, which is currently demolishing and rebuilding the former quick-mart space next to California Chicken Café. Owner Jill Bernheimer has operated the online shop Domaine 547 for two years, but is excited to bring it to the brick-and-mortar level.
So far, she's removed a 25-door fridge convenience store set-up that will be reused in another market in Northern California. There's still plenty more to do by mid-summer when she hopes to open Domaine LA, which is designed by the New York firm of Della Valle Bernheimer.
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"The store's focus will be very much to create a comfortable, friendly and un-intimidating environment" Bernheimer tells Squid Ink, "from both a design and an attitudinal perspective."
By that, she means in party that the inventory won't exceed 400 choices. Bottles will be priced in the $15 to $50 range to keep the "scope of it on a human scale," as Bernheimer puts it, since she loves "the idea of people integrating wine more in to everyday life."
Her online stock these days is heavy on French labels, but, she says, "[Domaine LA] is definitely not a geographically focused store. I'll carry wines from wherever the wine is good."
A Hancock Park area resident, Bernheimer sought a convenient storefront spot that would cater to the community she knows. She points to the high quality of her neighbors as all the more reason to contribute to "the food and wine culture [that] is starting to develop in the area in a way that's reaching critical mass." Plus, her location is a respectable distance from any possible friendly competition, yet will help form a "nice cluster" she says along the Hancock Park/south Hollywood/La Brea-to-Vine corridor to give wine-loving locals the kind of shopping choices that have generally been better found elsewhere around town. We look forward to seeing Domaine LA stake out its territory in a couple of months.