Whether you're toasting a special occasion or a quiet night in, there's often no time to dig through the myriad of wine labels at the grocery store or leave it to the stock guy to suggest "that one." Instead, pay a visit to some of the best wine stores in LA, where you'll find not only a great selection of labels, but also stellar customer service. Whether it's Silver Lake Wine or Wally's, LA's best wine shops have knowledgeable staff who can help you find the perfect bottle, earning you nods of approval from family, friends and the ever-present discerning wino. Picking up for a party or special occasion? Ask for Champagne suggestions—who doesn't love bubbly?—off-the-beaten path, small-production Central Coast California wines—try Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay or Paso Robles Rhone Blends—or impress dinner guests with a "Cru" Beaujolais, light but complex reds. Cheers!
RECOMMENDED: The best shops in Los Angeles
The counter-culture destination for wines from small and obscure producers, the DTLA shop is known for an impressive, rotating stock of new and exciting craft beers from malts to beers aged in bourbon and Pinot Noir barrels. "We're like a record store, not a museum," says Jamil Williams, Buzz’s wine buyer. The result: the store stocks its shelves with wines that are "real" (think terroir-focused funk and the like). The wino-punk attitude attracts a young, diverse clientele, eager to try something new.
Good for: End of the week events. Check out Twitter for #ThursdayFlightNight and #BeerOclock (Friday) tastings ($10-$15). More party than tasting, the good times roll well into the night (the store closes at 2am) with great beats and snacks.
In & out factor: Parking is tough Downtown, but on Spring Street there's usually a stray space near the store or more spots a short walk away. Buzz is also a block from Pershing Square—definitely worth a pit stop to check out—and its metro stop.
TOLA pick: Drink whatever Williams is drinking and, right now, it’s BROC Luna Matta Vineyard 2009 Mourvedre ($31), a Central Coast Rhone varietal that pairs well with cold-weather foods like braised and smoked meats. For beer drinkers, try something different like brews made from cranberries and cherries to go with turkey dinner.Read more
Don’t have a private cellar? Without a cozy nook to sit, swirl and sip? Domaine LA has you covered. The center of the store is designed for lounging—spill-proof chairs literally stand in the middle of the room—because you'll want to brood over the facts and facets of "wines with a point of view," as store manager Whitney Adams puts it. Talking scores will get you nowhere with Adams and owner Jill Bernheimer, who focus on small-production wines that emphasize what happens on the vineyard more than in the barrels. Italian, French, California, Oregon and Washington dominate the selections, with a "Wall of Affordable Deliciousness" of top picks under $15.
Good for: The Sunday tastings (2pm-5pm) feature lite bites ($10-$20) from restaurants like Sotto and Night + Market paired with lesser-known, small-production wines.
In & out factor: The mini-mall parking lot is small, but you can also easily find a spot within walking distance. If you’re in a hurry, have your friend circle the block while you snag a top-notch, value wine...there may even be time to sample, too.
TOLA pick: Ask for their "panty dropper," aka Pet-Nats (Petillant Naturel), sparkling wines that capture naturally released CO2.Read more
K&L Wine Merchants is an LA staple with a long-standing reputation in the industry for its spot-on expertise. Whatever you're looking for, chances are, K&L's got it. The second storefront—the flagship store is in Redwood, CA—is seriously stocked, serving Hollywood's wine collectors and winos alike. While vast, the store's layout is approachable—wines are organized by country and region and the friendly staff is always ready to help pick a bottle based on price point and style.
Good for: The annual on-site Champagne tent sale in October is when customers can try 75+ Champagnes and partake in private winemaker dinners. (Call to inquire.)
In & out factor: A sizeable parking lot connected to the store—crucial in the middle of Hollywood.
TOLA pick: Pick up a 2010 Potel-Aviron Côte de Brouilly "Vieilles Vignes" Cru Beaujolais ($17.99) which sees more complexity and structure from the Gamay grape. The wine's acidity and hints of violets, cherries and smoke pair superbly well with fatty holiday foods.Read more
Randy Clement, April Langford and George Cossette’s Silver Lake storefront is the quintessential neighborhood wine hub. You might call it "the people's wine store" as the staff here take pride in defining themselves by their customers. Every visitor gets the same treatment from an enthusiastic, knowledgeable staff who maintain their role to merely navigate the customer. You'll always discover something new as the selection—smartly chosen and constantly changing—is mostly small-production domestic and French with a smattering of natural European wines.
Good for: In-store tastings are featured Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays; the popular weekend tasting requires reservations in advance.
In & out factor: There's a free parking lot adjacent to the store off Glendale Blvd and metered street parking in front.
TOLA pick: Forget Burgundies and Russian Rivers. Try the surprisingly stellar Pinots of New Zealand or go domestic with a lighter Syrah, like the Scribe Syrah East Side Atlas Peak Napa Valley 2007 California. Both reds aren't overwhelmed by dense fruit or oak—perfect drinking wine for any dinner party.Read more
Nestled in a refurbished trolley stop from the 1920s, this West Hollywood store is a wino’s gift shop dreamscape (its name is a mix of vino, meaning wine, and cadeau, meaning gift). The WeHo store has a cozy neighborhood feel where geeking out on wine is encouraged. A second location inside Santa Monica Place's The Market sees more touristy traffic and features an outdoor rooftop patio where you can try a daily flight of three wines and cheese ($10-$14). The wines are owner-tested and approved and range from Italian, French, Spanish, German and Californian reds and whites. The curious and adventurous can choose a Croatian, Slovenian or Morroccan.
Good for: Drop in for Winemaker Wednesdays from 6-8pm at the Santa Monica store, where you can taste wines from domestic to international.
In & out factor: The WeHo location has plenty of nearby parking along Fountain, perfect for a quick gift-in-a-pinch stop. The Santa Monica store has parking inside the mall's garage.
TOLA pick: Sniff out a bottle of something from Italy, like Le Cupole di Trinoro Super Tuscan 2008, which retails alone at $37 and at $90 when part of a Clutch Gift. Bonus: Snag a Laguiole knife set, which ranges in price, quantity and style. We love the Clutch Gift sets, a signature offering from Venokado.Read more
Serious oenophiles and big time collectors count on this West LA staple to stock their cellars and wine fridges with the best of the best. Those looking for coveted Bordeaux can land first-rate bottles at reasonable prices. Customer service is the core of Wally’s, so while some come in knowing what they want, many drop in seeking a staff recommendation—the perfect wine to impress the in-laws or what to pop open after a romantic hike through the Hills—within a specific price range. And with a fabulous lineup of craft beers—check out the selection of microbrews and the growing selection of canned—and Wally’s Cheese Box next door, you’re one stop closer to that beachside house party.
Good for: Annual tent sales in February and September when bottles and cases are up to 80% off.
In & out factor: Big points for a good size parking lot with quick and easy access in a congested part of town.
TOLA pick: Because we live in and love California, ask Geoff Pattison, the in-house Central Coast pro, to steer you toward a local bottle like a Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay, an old vine Santa Maria Pinot Noir or a Paso Robles Rhone blend.Read more
"'All things to all people' is the motto here," says general manager JB Severin. Whether you’re looking to spend $8 or $800, Wine House has options. Start off in its Enomatic Room to sample before you buy, then head out and peruse every wine-producing region of the world throughout the store. There are also two private rooms housing old and hard-to-find wines (gift alert!) and a selection of craft bottled and canned beers, all chilled.
Good for: Experience a complete wine and food sit down at Upstairs 2, the store's upper-level restaurant serving small plates paired with 45+ wines available for tasting. Bonus: Wine Jouse also offers an array of classes and the prestigious WSET (Wine & Spirits Education Trust) certification courses.
In & out factor: Located just off the 405, there's free parking on the upper-level lot.
TOLA pick: Dig around in the Italian section for gems like 2007 Castello della Paneretta Chianti Classico Riserva to pair with anything citrus-based.Read more