Virtual Tastings and Culinary Experiences from LA’s Best Wine Store

The president and principal of Wally’s shares his expertise with those drinking and dining at home.

If someone with a crystal ball told me that in 2020 all wineries and restaurants would be closed, handshakes and hugs would be forbidden, and life as I knew it would cease to exist due to a global health crisis, I wouldn’t have wanted to believe it. However, here we are almost halfway through 2020, it did happen, it is hard, but we are surviving and rising above it.

A large part of my nature is built for survival, resilience, and facing curveballs head on. This has helped me tremendously as a business owner in small and medium crises, and in the very large one we are currently facing. Our team has made a tremendous effort over the last couple of months to adjust as best we can while simultaneously helping our clients, friends, partners, community, and industry along the way. 

The Wally’s Brunch Box at Home.

One of my favorite parts about the wine industry is that it is such a social business and 100 percent built by and for people. The pandemic has tested us tremendously in that way. The Wally’s team and I have had to figure out how to stay connected “socially” while physically staying distant. One way we have achieved this is by hosting virtual tastings on social media with wine and spirits producers around the world. Our mission at Wally’s is first and foremost to provide people with an incredible wine and food experience. Now more than ever, this has remained our goal and mission. Through the virtual tastings, we provide people with good wine, good food, and some fun and comfort even for just a brief amount of time. The virtual tastings also enable us to connect digitally with our clients around the world in a way that we could not do before the pandemic.

The Cinco de Mayo to-go celebration box.

It has also been fun getting creative on the marketing side. For example, we hosted a virtual Cinco de Mayo party complete with tequila cocktail tutorials and an incredible Mexican feast (the best duck carnitas and mole you have ever had!). We sold the tequila cocktail kits and meal kits ahead of time, so that by 5:00 p.m. on May 5, our clients were able to tune in from the comfort of their homes, while still getting the “Wally’s experience.” It ended up being very successful, but more importantly, it was a lot of fun. 

Christian Navarro is the president and principal of Wally’s.

Luckily for our team, evolving and adapting does not feel that foreign. As a brand, Wally’s has had to evolve in the last several years to stay relevant and survive. Because traditional wine retail was dying, we reinvented ourselves from strictly a wine shop to a hybrid wine retail/restaurant experience. Today, we are continuing to reinvent ourselves to adapt to the new normal, which is still evolving week to week. While we may not like the current situation, I try to instill in our team the importance of accepting and adapting to this new reality.

Some of the gourmet grocery items from Wally’s.

I believe that even behind a mask we still show people who we are. While we are very excited to reopen for dine-in, we have used this time at Wally’s to learn, do better, be better, and focus on the future. We are all in this together and I am optimistic that we will all come back stronger than ever.

Quarantine Finds 

2018 Rumors Rosé ($35)
This is the newest superstar rosé on the block and a passion project of a longtime patron and friend of Wally’s. The grapes (cinsault, grenache, and syrah) come from vineyards planted more than 750 years ago in Provence. This stunning rosé has tremendous depth and sophistication, but it will immediately put you at ease with its refreshing, clean style. It’s perfect as an aperitif or paired with anything grilled. Wally’s is proud to be the exclusive retailer of this perfect summertime wine. 

2016 Lavinea Nysa Dundee Hills Pinot Noir ($60)
A sensational Pinot Noir from Dundee Hills (Oregon’s Pinot mecca). Expressive aromas of red berry and pepper delight your nose right off the bat. The palate displays flavors of black cherry, blood orange, earth, and subtle truffle notes. There is such an interesting range of depth and flavor to this beauty. Enjoy now and for many years to come.

2017 Memento Mori Vanitas Cabernet Sauvignon ($100)
Napa Valley cult sensation Memento Mori recently released its incredible 2017 Vanitas Cabernet Sauvignon. There are only 55 cases of this rare bottling, making this one of Memento Mori’s most exclusive releases ever. Sourced from elite vineyards in Napa, this beautiful wine is first-class quality all the way. Forward aromas of sweet tobacco, black cherries, and roasted meat jump from the glass. Rich, complex, and balanced on the palate, it provides a perfect combination of savory and fruity characteristics.