Throughout the ages, there have been legendary couples who have left their mark, such as: contemporary artists Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, famed scientists Marie & Pierre Curie, and musicians Sonny and Cher. Now, in our modern age, there’s Adam and Kate Vourvoulis – a couple that’s blazing a trail for natural wine with the work they do day in, and day out. From sourcing approachable wines inside Good Luck Wine Shop, to producing sustainable and ethically made wines at Vin De California, this couple is on a mission to get more people to enjoy the best of what the natural wine world has to offer.
Adam and Kate have built two concepts that pay homage to sustainable California-grown grapes and natural wine. Nestled near the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains sits Good Luck Wine Shop, where Kate curates a collection of natural wines from near and far. In a space that was once a trophy shop, GLWS has created a sanctuary for wine lovers from across the spectrum – whether you’re just getting into natural wine or you’re a seasoned wine enthusiast. The Vourvoulises want to share their treasure trove of consciously sourced natural wines with you.
Kate and Adam started their shop in the spring of 2020, right during the middle of a global pandemic (that’s correct – pretty amazing, right?)! Through the challenges of 2020, the Vourvoulises personally hand-delivered bottles to customers who found reprise from the difficult year with palatable wines. Currently, they’ve opened up their brick-and-mortar shop to visitors, where you can find wines from vintners with whom Kate has built a close kinship. Good Luck Wine Shop just celebrated their one-year anniversary!
Need wine shipped to you for the holidays? Check out what’s in store online: www.goodluckwineshop.com
Right beside Good Luck Wine Shop, you’ll find another gem – Vin De California, a small-batch winery dedicated to making natural wines from California heritage varietals. Inside, you’ll find rustic wine barrels lining the walls, a gargantuan cylindrical cement tank, and a rustic hand-operated wine press that Adam uses to press grapes. Stepping foot into Pasadena’s first-ever natural winery, you’ll discover a winemaker who’s not only turning out avant-garde wines, but is hoping to one day to open his space to aspiring winemakers so they can learn and grow at VDC. Every bottle of wine that Adam has put out into the world gets noticed and consumed quickly. Adam and Kate have sold out of their 2020 and 2021 wine line-ups that included: Violette (an effervescent jammy and peppery zinfandel ), 2020 Harvest (a blend of Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Barbera, Marsanne), Radical (a zinfandel and pinot noir blend), Yves (skin-contact Marsanne), Belafonte (made from 100% whole cluster mission grapes), Fluorescent (a 100% Pinot Noir), and Amethyst (a blend of Barbera, Pinot Noir, and Marsanne). Don’t sleep on these wines – at first sip, you can taste the quality of the grapes, thanks to Adam’s tireless work of sourcing from sustainable family farms that make their vineyards regenerative. The Leftover grape skins are then given to the Huntington Library for use in composting.
Interview Part I.
Explain the core values of Vin De California & Good Luck Wine Shop…
- California Fruit Heritage Varietals
AV & KV:
Definitely, above everything else, the community around us and the natural wine community we cherish so much. We love sharing what we love with people we love. Early on, being introduced to the traditional wine world, I found that it isn’t very open and accessible – but once I realized that the mission of natural wine matched my values, my heart was in it. I try to make others feel welcomed no matter what we’re doing. We just want to be authentically us and to always be learning.
Traditional wine is so focused on the past, and natural wine is always changing, evolving, and looking toward the future. We’re committed to paying employees a living wage and providing a healthy work environment.
To be contrarian (french trait to argue).
VDC Mantra: Anything that anyone is doing, I want to do the alternative – I don’t want to conform to the traditional way of making wine. Eventually, I’d want to make twelve-dollar wine that’s good, accessible, and sustainable. Hope to see natural wine in places where everyone can see it and have accessibility to it, like Keg stacks at Whole Foods.
It’s so great coming back to create something that’s ours and represents our values. We’re taking something that we truly believe in and implementing it in what’s already here in Pasadena. As a sixth generational Californian, I have respect for those who came before us – California is the future.
What new natural wines do you plan on adding to the VDC catalog?
We have Tempranillo, Zinfandel, Barbera, Pinot Noir, and Marsanne planned. We fermented 95% of it and didn’t do any blends/co-ferments – each is fermenting all on its own. Whether or not we blend any of it is still up to the wine. One of the things that’s great, and also difficult about natural wine, is that you can start off with a plan, but you have to follow what the wine is doing. We follow the wine from week to week, during fermentation, and the aging process is important —
We’ll definitely produce a stand-alone zinfandel just because we have so much of it – it’s the first wine we made in 2016 and it’s consistent. We’re moving away from varietal labeling, so I don’t know if I’m ever going to put varietal on my labels. I’m really into naming wines after colors – I don’t know where that came from, it’s something that sort of happened, I don’t know why.
KV: Adam changes his labels every vintage (fully changes them). Even though he’s saying he’s never doing that, he probably will.
AV: I come from a very artistic mindset and think of myself as a contemporary artist first, then a winemaker second. I’d like to think I’m doing it through the lens of contemporary art – in everything I do. This year 2021, we’re doing the wines as a theme. There’s a french poet – Baulidire – and he had a book and series of poems called ”The Fluer de Mal” – it’s specifically about how tragically awful modern life is and we have to enjoy what we can to get through the pain of modern life. So that’s the underlying theme of everything that happened in 2020. Finding the good things amongst all the bad things.
Wine to me is like a dead flower, you take this beautiful fresh fruit then you kill it to transform it into a sinful and debaucherous thing like alcohol.
“Wine is like a dead flower that you kill and transform into a wine”