Giovanni D’Andrea, owner and winemaker at Urban Press Winery & Restaurant in nearby Burbank, knows a good opportunity when he stumbles upon it.
As the former tech guy turned winemaker described his saga recently, he said, “I’ve always been mostly a wine drinker, coming from an Italian background, right? It’s hard to not appreciate a good wine.
“So when I got here,” he continued, “I kind of taught myself to make wine, and one day my wife told me, ‘You might want to take this somewhere else,’ cause we had like eight barrels of wine in my garage.”
Thus, D’Andrea, who originally hails from Montreal, started making wine about 20 years ago when he moved from Canada to Los Feliz, making craft wines in his garage. Today, and for some years now, D’Andrea has produced his own line of wines from a private winery in Sonoma.
In fact, originally the Urban Press Winery idea was all about wines, he said in a recent interview.
“The whole idea was about opening up in the city,” he recalled. “So I put a tasting room in Burbank. But, in winemaking as compared to beer making, you can make beer and then a month later, sell it.
“In the wine business, you gotta make it,” he said, “and then you gotta age it.”
So there’s that.
He spent three to four years actually looking for the perfect location and once he opened the tasting room location, he next thought about adding traditional Italian food to the operation.
So he parked a trailer with a wood-burning oven in the parking lot, “and that really took off,” he remembered.
“We had a wood-burning oven, a six-top stove and fryer. So it was really close to what we have today. We were doing steaks, we were doing pastas. We were doing the wood-burning pizza oven and all of that.”
And then there was COVID-19.
“The county put wineries and breweries and distilleries in the same category as places where COVID might be likely, so they kind of closed us down.”
But then a year ago, on Mother’s Day Weekend, D’Andrea was able to open the formal Urban Press Winery, and rest was the future.
These days, D’Andrea divides his time between the busy restaurant and vineyards in Sonoma.
As he explained, “I was originally looking to do everything in L. A. But the logistics of it just didn’t make sense, since you pick your grapes in the middle of the night. That’s important to keep them cool. And then first thing in the morning, we start pressing them, but it wasn’t logistically possible.”
So like many wine producers, D’Andrea has his Sonoma farm where his grapes are grown, for his winemaker Francois Cordesse.
Cordesse is a formally trained master winemaker with almost 30 years of experience working hands-on in France, Australia, and
California. He holds a master’s degree in Enology and Viticulture from the University of Montpellier, France, and an additional Master of International Wine Trade and Business from the Burgundy Business School (also in France). He personally selects the grapes and then creates small artisanal batches for Urban Press.
Such is his talent that when a Sonoma Vineyard suffered substantial smoke damage from last year’s fires, Cordesse was able to direct the workers to remove the skins from the grapes and from the peeled grapes, he developed a unique Rosé with a sweet flavor and only the faintest hint of smoke—a completely unique blend.
“The farmer sold his grapes and we had a great new wine,” said D’Andrea.
And now D’Andrea is turning his attention to providing guests a rare opportunity to meet the Sonoma-based award-winning Winemaker, for a 4-course pairing Dinner on Feb 3rd and 4th.
As he described the evening, he noted that Urban Press Winery actually has a more secluded romantic patio, but that’s not all of the offerings.
A romantic dinner for two on the main dining room floor will be set with a backdrop of candlelight, crystals and the gorgeous sounds of a harpist.
There is also a very special setup for the evening, a little something called “Arabian Nights,” which will feature belly dancers.
Along with the Italian food and the array of wines, there is just a touch of the fun and sensual, he said.
The Arabian Nights themed dinner-show will take place in the Piazza and Patio areas.
Take your opportunities as you find them. Giovanni D’Andrea always has.
Urban Press Winery is at 316 San Fernando Blvd. Burbank, Calif. 91502. For more visit https://www.urbanpresswinery.com/ or call (818) 561-4858.
For reservation, click here.
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