The insider’s view of Downtown’s culture, food, drinks, and the people who shape it.

Wine Stop: Sipcation

Wine Stop: Sipcation

Life is hard, wine helps.

Enter Wine Stop to the rescue in the Arts District on Santa Fe Ave, sitting only a few storefronts from the popular Maru Coffee. A perfect pair of neighbors, if you ask us, because we’re pretty sure Los Angeles runs on a strict liquid diet of good coffee and good wine!


And here at Wine Stop you’ll never walk out without a bottle (or three) thanks to owner Alvaro Cardenas’ wine sensibility. Alvaro is quick to attribute his vast wine knowledge thanks to his mentor James Koch of JK Imports, where he worked for 20 plus years, working his way up from office work to selling wines directly to top sommeliers all across L.A..


Today, as Alvaro’s shop closes in on its third year, he’s perfected the art of keeping his shelves carefully stocked with a tight selection of affordable wines he loves. Consider his lineup of labels like a playlist of his favorite wines. Alvaro also prides himself on the time he invests in nurturing strong relationships with the wine producers he carries, many of whom he’s happy to call his friends. “I never buy a wine over the phone or over an email. I need to make sure they have a winery, they have vineyards, that the wine is being made properly, that the workers are being treated and paid properly,” says Alvaro.


This means customers get to stroll in and reap all the benefits, like traveling without moving an inch. “Every time a customer walks through the door I’m so excited to tell them ‘I just got back from Portugal and I met Mariana and I brought this wine back and this is the way that she makes it and I met her father and her brother. Then she poured me this wine with this dish,’” says Alvaro.


All you need to do in order to taste Alvaro’s research firsthand is to simply show up to one of his wine tastings, every Thursday and Friday from 5-9pm. On Thursdays you’ll try 3 wines paired up with 3 cheeses. You’ll get anything from a juicy Tempranillo with hints of vanilla and tobacco to a 2016 Primitivo Arke (small production, only 1250 bottles made). Then on Fridays, he’s all about the bubbles, pouring you favorites like his refreshing and dry Cava from Catalonia, Spain. Either tasting will cost you anywhere from $15 - $24 bucks (go online to save). But no matter what Alvaro is pouring you, know this - it’s sure to be delicious and every sip will be a shortcut to the people, the stories and the history behind the labels.


These wine tastings are a really fun way to unwind while meeting new people. As soon as you walk into the room the buzz of strangers laughing and learning together hooks you. You’ve arrived at Wine Stop, where life and the weekend are off to a really good start. | 1025 S Santa Fe Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Written by Linda Hosmer (@blockanimal) | Photography by Jack Strutz

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