Serena Alvarez of AOC on the market in Los Angeles
As the center of the biggest wine market in the states, what sets Los Angeles apart.
Our guests have access to a lot of wines—all of these boutique California wines but also a good number of imports—not only in stores but over internet. In this day and age there are lot more ways for people to get what they’re looking for. It makes people a little jaded, tough to please, but it makes what I do much more rewarding. The ante has been upped; wine is part of our culture. For us, that’s all good. We’re there just to empower people to make their own decisions. Rather than, ‘I know this and this is what you’re going to drink and you’re going to like it.’
And you say sales are picking up.
I think we’re coming into the tail end of the recession. People are splurging a little more and, more important, people are coming in here expecting a new experience, they’re expecting to try something they wouldn’t normally drink.
What are people’s expectations when they walk into AOC?
I think people understand that when they come here they’re stepping into our world, and want our guidance. They know our reputation for being a bit eclectic, and they expect something out of the ordinary. You don’t go into a steakhouse looking to try the latest Slovenian pinot blanc. It’s nice to hear people say, “Yeah, let me try that wine from Corsica.”
I like to think we’re good at gauging what level people are at, but I have no problem with giving them a couple of tastes of things. I want to give people what they want; a few of them want to be taken on the ride, and that’s great, I’m happy to do it.
We do what we can to try and push our guests into new territory. We don’t have a lot of cookie-cutter wines for them to fall back on. Of course, not everybody who comes in here wants the new and daring experience, and that’s okay.