Juan Sierra —World Traveler and Purveyor of Los Angeles Custom Wine Cellar
We at Los Angeles Custom Wine Cellar strive to provide high quality information to Los Angeles and Orange County, California residents on the intricacies of wine storage in both residential spaces and commercial properties. Whether you’re simply looking for some good advice on how to build in your location, or you’re actually looking for wine storage service and products, we hope to provide what you need. This is the story of Shane McAllister, our editor. He has a very interesting path that led him to wine cellar building and construction. He has a unique view of this industry and is the perfect person to guide our site. We hope you enjoy his insights.
A Wandering Journey to Custom Wine Cellar
My journey to the world of custom designed and built wine cellars is a long and storied one. I started as many college freshmen, an English major, with imaginings of literary greatness, and no understanding of the cost of living an upper middle-class lifestyle in Los Angeles, California.
My English professors, like all doctorates, we’re encouraging of my work, imagining that the world would be a much better place if everyone was employed by a University with occasional published works that qualified them as experts in their field.
And so I continued on this path of enlightenment until a girl by the name of Jasmine (that was really her name) asked me to join her and a group of friends on a trip to Rome. Suddenly the degree seemed like a long lost dream, replaced by a much better one, an erotic adventure into the old world with this black haired beauty.
I said yes faster than I should have, showing my hand far too quickly, which is probably why I never got past first base with the lovely Jasmine on the entire trip; c’est la vie.
Wine in the European Play Land
My romantic woe was replaced by my “awe” of the great Italian play land. I immediately fell in love with the architecture. It was like walking into a fairy-world, mythical and religious—too big and too small at the same time. It was an assault on my senses that I could not get enough of. I was at once alive, reminded of my own mortality and immortality, forever breathing and believing.
And then there was the wine. Oh the wine! As I met expert somms and citizens alike, they all seemed to have advanced understanding of this ancient tradition of wine production, storage, collection, and tasting.
I began to learn all that went into creating and preserving these incredible pieces of art in a bottle. I visited the ancient wine cellars and wine bars. I feasted at so many of the great European restaurants. I immediately fell in love with the whole world of winery, food, and culture that the old world had to offer.
Back in LA LA Land
I came back from Rome a different person. For one thing I was now almost $10 thousand dollars in debt. Yes, I had indeed had a good time. But I also felt like I had seen so much more of what was possible in this world. I was better dressed. I read better books. I drank more expensive wines. I must have been quite insufferable.
As I was walking around downtown Los Angeles I began to appreciate what had always been in front of my eyes, but I hadn’t noticed. Our city isn’t Rome, but it does have a rich architectural history. These great buildings, like the legendary Bradbury Building, Griffith Observatory, and Renzo Piano’s Museum of Art were like old friends that I suddenly realized at the end of the romantic comedy that I was in love with and wanted to marry.
Getting My Hands Dirty in the Wine Cellar Building Industry
My dad owned a small construction company on the edge of Los Angeles. There had always been an invitation to come and experience “real man’s work” but my mom had insisted that this wasn’t expected.
If I wanted to get a degree and work at a desk that was certainly my right. But with looming financial pressure from my “orgy of spending” in Europe I figured that it might be a good idea to get my hands a little dirty for a change and pay off the Visa card.
And I was feeling adventurous and open to new experiences after Rome. So I figured that maybe a life as an architect or a designer would be right for me. Some experience working at the construction company would help me find out if a life designing spaces would be a good fit for me.
My first job working for my father was nothing like the Basilica. We were renovating a small bathroom in a house from the 70’s that looked like the Brady Bunch’s home on the outside, but not nearly as fancy on the inside. I never realized that one could get so dirty in one day. That night I literally took two showers and I still felt like I had dust from drywall in my ears. I wasn’t feeling optimistic that this would be a long-term career path.
But after a week or so, the project started to take shape and my spirits lifted. When the job was done the bathroom looked amazing. I began to get excited about these projects, seeing a job through from the beginning to the end, seeing something go from ugly to beautiful, seeing something change from a state of being what the client did not want to what they very much desired. It was a magical experience that I got to go through over and over again, week after week, month after month. This was FUN!
Wine Cellar Construction – My New Found Love
During this time I began taking classes on construction management. I also began discussing with my father the idea of building wine cellars. He told me that wine cellars, wine rooms, and displays were a real niche market that required specialized understanding of refrigeration, cabinetry, and ironwork, and that it could be quite lucrative. Together we began building wine cellars and the rest is history. I was able to combine my love of wine culture and my new found love of construction design and management.
One of the side benefits of running a successful business has been having the means and the opportunity to travel all over the world, feeding my hunger for wine. I’ve visited the classic wineries of France. I’ve had many, many opportunities to visit our own world-renowned California wine country. And I’ve witnessed how great wine is springing up all over the world, giving me the excuse to make multiple important “business” trips.
And now my story comes full circle. Here I am returning to my love of writing as the editor of this site, adding my insights after years of experience in this industry. I love wine and I love wine cellars. I love taking a space in a home or commercial location that was once drab, ugly, or ordinary, and turning it into a place infused with tradition, taste, and the love of happiness that comes with fine wine. Cheers!