How does a farmer's kid from Nebraska end up running a wine room in Los Angeles? Michael "Mikey" Consbruck knows. As a fourth-generation Nebraskan, Consbruck was expected to take over the corn and soybean farm that has been in his family since his great-grandparents' day. Consbruck loved agronomy, crop growth and harvest but before running his 1,000 acre birth rite, he went to college. While in New York City, he made a realization.
"I wanted something 180 degrees different from where I was." He moved to California settling in West Hollywood, a hip, urban city surrounded by Los Angeles. "Everything changed," he said when he answered a job ad asking: "Interested in wine?"
The job was selling boutique wines to Southern California restaurants. Although case numbers vary, "boutique" defines small, often family-run wineries that use locally-grown grapes, and produce 10,000-50,000 cases of wine, or less, annually. A wine novice, Consbruck's viticulture education began with a limo tour of Santa Barbara wine county with his new boss, Bryan Kane.
"Bryan taught me everything I know about wine." Including the value of grape varietals, the power of the nose, and the nuts and bolts of wine production.
Through Kane's mentoring, Consbruck "fell in love with wine" and longed to share his knowledge. He opened a space dedicated to wine called V Wine Room to introduce others to these little known boutique wines.
"V isn't a wine bar, it's a wine room," Consbruck said highlighting the educational elements of V whose menu offers reds, whites and sparkling wines by the glass, bottle, and in wine flights. Cheese and fruit plates enhance the wine's flavors and serve as palate cleansers. While admitting that wine is subjective, Consbruck said that every wine has "a story."
As in all stories, he said, "there's a beginning, a middle and an end."
In other words, the beginning is smelling the wine in the glass, the middle is introducing the wine to the mouth and letting your tongue experience it, and the end is swallowing it. Every wine you taste has its own story, it's up to the individual to discover what that story is.
On a recent busy night at V, which included a bachelorette party, Consbruck flitted among the tables providing patrons with knowledge, wines and smiles. He was the happiest kid from Nebraska present. And why not? Wine changed his life; for the better.
V Wine Room is located at 903 Westbourne Dr West Hollywood, CA 90069 (310) 339-9202