1. Brad Roen, that’s a name some people in this valley should remember. How did you put SCV on the (wine) map?
In the late 90’s I opened a restaurant in Valencia called “Valencia Grille”. At the time I was building the place I really was not that into wine. But when I applied for my first alcohol license, I found the price to be outrageous and ended up with the lesser “Beer & Wine” permit. That was the start of my affair with wine. Thanks to some wonderful wine rep’s, who really took time teaching me the ropes, I became a wine lover. We served over 20 wines by the glass and almost 100 on the bottle list. I soon learned that the SCV was filled with fellow wine lovers who had no place to go. We were the only wine bar/restaurant in town at that time. That where it all started…..
I’ve owned a half dozen or so restaurants and/or wine bars over a 15 year period. It is one of the toughest businesses and if you don’t really love it, it can kill you. I’m stuck…I love the restaurant business. After Valencia Grille closed, it took a huge toll on me and I moved to Brazil in search of replacing what I had lost in my heart. Living in Rio changed my life and my perspective on what is really important. It was a wonderful experience and upon my return to the states a couple of years later, I had the driver drop me a little wine bar called Wine Savor on McBean and Valencia Blvd. in the Whole Foods center. I had my going away party there when it had just opened and really enjoyed the place and the people. Long story short, I bought the place a few months later and it became Wine 661. Again, the wine lovers swarmed the place and wine was once again a large part of the SCV landscape.
2. After 661 and 818 in the valley, do you have any future plans in retail, or a restaurant, again?
After selling my last wine and tapas restaurant, Eight-18 in Toluca Lake, I had decided I am DONE with the restaurant business. But, with wine now firmly in my veins, I just couldn’t get completely out of the industry. I have recently started my newest venture, an import/distribution company called GlobalOne Winegroup, with my best friend (and fellow ex-SCV resident) Jeremy LeClair. We are sourcing the globe for some really special wines. So, I will soon be back in the SCV selling wine to the now many wine spots in the area and am looking forward to it.
I must say, in spite of our current workload, which by the way includes a “buying” trip to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay this October, I still have this little voice that keeps whispering to me to keep an eye out for another wine bar. So, who knows?
3. Tell us about your website and what you are doing there?
Our new website, http://www.GOwinegroup.com/ is really geared towards attracting wineries rather than consumers. It will morph into something different in the near future with areas for consumers, restaurants, wineries and our newest blog called “The Dump Bucket”. The Dump Bucket is a place to throw “all things wine” into one place. It will include wine reviews, food and travel. I am very excited about that area of our company. Keep an eye out for The Dump Bucket at http://www.thedumpbucket.com/
4. Are you a sommelier? Do you have a favorite wine?
As far as my wine education goes, like everything else in my life, I learn as I go…without any formal training. As much as I have thought about becoming a sommelier, at this point it is not in the near future. I think a lot of people take what we do in the wine world just a bit to serious. I love wine, I love wine lovers and I love the business of wine. But that’s where it ends for me…at least for now. Someone once asked me at Wine 661, why do they love so many of the wines I buy and that I must have an incredible palate. My response was that if so many people love the wines I taste and purchase, I must have a very normal palate. That’s just fine with me…
Eve Bushman has been reading, writing, taking coursework and tasting wine for over 20 years. She has obtained a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, has been the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video, authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and recently served as a guest judge for the L.A. International Wine Competition. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits that may be answered in a future column. You can also seek her marketing advice via Eve@EveBushmanConsulting.com