Peter Nelson and Hiro Tamaki, both certified wine educators, met while attending various local wine classes. Nelson is a practicing attorney by day, and Tamaki came to this country from Japan armed with a degree in criminal justice and seeking to further his studies in public administration. It wasn’t long, though, before they bonded over their true shared passions, the pleasures of the grape, and sharing those pleasures with others.
Their passion came to fruition in November, when Monopole Wine, wine store and tasting bar, opened its doors in Pasadena’s historic Playhouse District, and a welcome arrival it is.
Monopole (a term indicating sole ownership of a vineyard by the producer or winery), designed by renowned local architect, Chris Peck of CM Peck, is housed in an inviting 1700 square foot space. The cool stone walls and concrete floors, along with the fact that the sun never hits any area of the store, help makes the space an ideal environment for cellaring wines. The wines are stored on dark wood shelving, and the space is illuminated by antique pendant chandeliers (culled from an historic Laguna Beach church), giving the store the feel of a study in an exclusive old world club.
"Old world" is a theme in the wine selection, too, since half of the wines are European, certainly a welcome diversion in So Cal. The other half of the collection hails from the “new world” of wines, encompassing the Americas, Australia, and South Africa.
Monopole offers wine tastings every night ranging in price from $10 for the "Night Flight", $15 for the "Blind Flight" (their most popular where oenophiles get to challenge their palate's knowledge) to $20 for the "Focused Flight", highlighting a speciic region. The tasting selections change weekly.
Not interested in what’s on the tasting menu that week? The staff will open any bottle you purchase in the store, and pour it for you right there. And if you’re interested in hosting a group tasting, Nelson and Tamaki will work with you in selecting wines in your price range. What’s not to love?