Urban Press offers a piece of wine country in downtown Burbank

Urban Press offers a piece of wine country in downtown Burbank

From Burbank Leader “Main News” Section

A Taste of Wine Country;

Urban Press Winery, with 300 members, Informs patrons about grapes and varietals

Urban Press Winery in downtown Burbank is more than just another wine bar that serves alcoholic beverages to its patrons.

While owner Giovanni D’Andrea’s main goal is to provide the Media City and surrounding area with quality wines, he also wants to educate people about the various grapes that can be used to create different varietals of wine.

D’Andrea has several employees at his Burbank business who are well-versed in wine — a few of them certified sommeliers — to teach patrons about the wine they are drinking and how different types can be blended together.

“I try to see the world through their eyes and try to take the mystique and the fear factor out of wine tasting,” said Bob Henry, a staff member at Urban Press. “My whole ambition is to create a welcoming, hospitable and fact-based learning environment where they feel comfortable having wine as part of their lifestyle.”

Henry, whose knowledge of wine stems from influential Los Angeles Times wine critic the late Robert Lawrence Balzer, said he talks with patrons about the grapes used in the wine they're drinking and breaks down with them the smells and flavors they should be getting as they take their sips.

“We’ll properly pronounce the names of the grapes for them so they don’t feel awkward about it,” Henry said. “We’ll talk about the history of where those grapes come from, and we’ll talk about what kind of smells and flavors you should be getting out the bottle. And we’ll use, by way of analogy, simple words like the vocabulary of food to describe them.”

D’Andrea, who originally hails from Montreal, started making wine about 20 years ago when he moved from Canada to Los Feliz, where he would make craft wines in his garage.

He always had an ambition to own his own winery, but D’Andrea said that purchasing property in Wine Country in Napa and Sonoma counties could limit what kinds of wine he can produce.

So, instead of having his own property in Northern California, D’Andrea contracts with several wineries in that region to produce wine — he provides the grapes, and the wineries take care of the rest.

That recipe has proven to be a success for Urban Press, which opened its doors in November and now has more than 300 members in its wine club.

“It’s really a lot about educating the people, making good wine and teaching them everything there is to know about wine,” D’Andrea said. “We can do that slowly. We’re taking them from a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc to a world of French wines, like a Grenache, and varietals they’ve never heard of.”

anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio

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