Venokado is really unlike any wine store that I have ever been to. Located in the hip open space in the new Santa Monica Place Mall known as “The Market” they are one of those places that you want people to know about, because you want them to stay in business, but you are cautious who you tell cause you don’t want them to get too big either. Like the Ferry Building Marketplace in the Embarcadero area of San Francisco and the Oxbow Public Market located in downtown Napa, “The Market” is part of a trend in “industrial themed open-space” dining and shopping. Venokado specializes in boutique wines from smaller producers and also has a vast selection of unique gifts, some wine related and some not. Few wines exceed $50 and most wines are under $35. The team really knows their stuff and no wines are allowed to be put on the shelf unless they first are tasted and approved by either co-owners Molly Brink or Susan Brink. Here at the Santa Monica location they offer daily wine flights that consist of a three pours of a sparkling, white, or red wines or a combination of the fore-mentioned. The prices of the wine flights range from $8 to $12. You have the choice of sitting inside at the wine bar or enjoying a nice view of Santa Monica from the deck. They also offer very generous portions of artisan cheeses and crackers that range from $8 to $18. Another cool thing is that you can purchase a bottle of wine and enjoy it on the premises which I have done in the past. State law states that the staff must maintain control of the bottle. This means that if you do purchase a wine to enjoy on the premises you cannot keep the bottle on your table, but rather it must be kept behind the bar. No worries though, the staff made sure to never let our glasses get empty. Cheers to that! If that wasn’t enough they also have Winemaker’s Nnight every Wednesday at 6pm where you get to meet the winemaker and have a tasting of their wines. The Winemaker’s Night is generally $15 and includes tastings and cheese. So recently my wife and I were doing some shopping in Santa Monica and decided to take a break, sit down, and raise a glass at Venokado and see what their wine flight of the day had to offer. Here’s the breakdown…
N/V Bellussi Valdotbiadene Superiore
Valdobbiadene, Venezia, Italy $17 bottle, $8 glass
A serviceable sparkler. To the eye it is light straw in color, with aromas of wet slate, pineapple, kiwi, caramel, baked brioche. On the palate you get a burst of fresh lemon-lime, pear, and apple flavors. Subtle, dry, and well-balanced.
2010 La Boatina
100% Pinot Grigio
Collio, Venezia, Italy $16 bottle, $7 glass
Golden in color this Pinot Grigio is a stone fruit party for the nose and all the players are invited; peaches, nectarines, and apricots mingle with fresh apples and pears in a river bed of minerality. There is also some lychee, wet earth, and astringent aromas hiding in the background if you hunt for them. On the palate fresh citrus flavors really dominate that are accompanied by subtle flavors of honeydew. This wine has crisp acidity, a really nice mouth feel with a long finish that lingers. 3 stars.
2003 La Stoppa
100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Colli Piacentini, Emilia-Romagna, Italy $19.50 bottle, $9 glass
Dark red in color with a little shade of brown. Aromas of cellar floor, dusty basements, asian 5 spice, tobacco leaf, barnyard, and leather bomber jackets share the stage with blackberries, cassis, and black currants. Very concentrated ripe dark fruits are complemented by a dry, rustic feel on the palate. Bright acidity with supple, rounded tannins that are asking, “Where’s the Beef?” Long delicious finish. 3.5 stars
395 Santa Monica Place
Rooftop @ The Market
Santa Monica, CA 90401