Wine Shopping in the Pasadena Area

Prior to heading to Sonoma, Matt and I spent 5 days in the Pasadena area where my in-laws live. We were there for Easter, to visit generally, and to sort through 20-plus years of Matt’s accumulated possessions. His parents tore down his childhood home and built a new home on the footprint and in the process packed up his things and put them in storage for nearly 2 years. Now that we are going to be the owners of our own home in less than 2 weeks, we have a place for his stuff and thus the task of deciding what was worth shipping all the way to VA. Pounds of dust, carrying heavy boxes and making repeated trips to the dumpster (seriously Matt, you still had notebooks and exams from high school in there!) left us thirsty and in serious need of some wine refreshment. With that in mind, we struck out to find Chronicle Wine Cellar on the recommendation of Dr. Debs of Good Wine Under $20.

Getting there was half the adventure. The sign in the alley hangs from a metal railing and is about the size of a piece of computer paper. It sits down in the back of the alley which appears to simply be a parking lot, making the street numbers seem to completely skip the one you are looking for. But if you find it, you are in for a treat. The tiny shop is packed chock-full of wine, from floor to ceiling and everywhere in-between that a wine bottle can be wedged. My toughest job was to limit myself to only a few choices (why VA, why, can you not have a shop with dozens of choices under the $15 mark that are actually worth drinking, lip service with only 10 bottles in that range does not count!).

In any event, I managed to come out alive with only 3 bottles in hand. Be forewarned, this is a cash or check only kind of place. My purchases were a $7.95 2006 Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand, a $19.95 1998 Kunde Shaw Vineyards Zinfandel and a $6.95 2004 Barricas Tempranillo from Argentine. Overall, the shop reminded me of my favorite kind of bookstore, one that has little rhyme or reason as to why something is placed where it is, where a glance to a shelf in the top corner reveals yet another treasure and where you feel like you could just wander around for hours looking at things and still not see a quarter of what is there, no matter how small the shop. When we find ourselves in the area again, I will most certainly return and I recommend that you too follow Dr.Deb’s advice and check it out if you get the opportunity!