By Brandon Lomenzo Black
Over the past six years, Everson Royce (ER) has woven itself deeply into the fabric of Pasadena’s boutique wine scene, selling wines from around the world, along with domestic and imported beer and spirits curated for the sophisticated tastes and preferences of its cosmopolitan customers.
But ER isn’t just a one-trick pony. It also happens to be a fun and inviting setting for weekly wine tastings where, during certain parts of the year, the winemaker is on hand to share his or her story and that of the grapes: the entire tale, from the vine to your glass.
The shop is named for the identical twin sons of co-owners Randy Clement and April Langford, who also co-own Silverlake Wine. Along with partner Joe Capella, they opened Everson Royce in April 2012 in an old but enviable brick building on Raymond Avenue next door to the Armory Center for the Arts. It’s within walking distance of the Gold Line’s Memorial Park Station, boutique shops and eateries dotted around Old Pasadena, and a parking structure where the first 90 minutes are free.
Before the trio of owners signed the lease to 155 N. Raymond Ave., the former home of Heritage Wine, they had fruitlessly scoured the eastside of Los Angeles in search of a locale to open the next iteration of a neighborhood wine shop that would be as successful and as meaningful a presence in the community as Silverlake Wine.
Then the search took a fortuitous turn toward the Pasadena. An acquaintance of Clement tipped him off about a newly vacant space in Old Town that he thought was worth looking into.
“Randy called me that night saying that the spot is great and that I should go and check it out with him,” Capella says. “We came and looked around and thought, ‘Nice neighborhood. Great space. Pasadena is awesome.’”
Over dinner at Mi Piace and a shared bottle of Moraga wine (from a Bel Air vineyard whose grapes are grown in the Santa Monica Mountains), Capella and Clement knew they had found a home for Everson Royce.
Six years later, ER finds itself enjoying great success, thanks to its stellar customer service and unpretentious yet expert staff’s extensive knowledge of wine, craft beer, and spirits.
“The way that we approach retail is not very scalable,” says Elliot Wang, the shop’s wine buyer and certified sommelier. More than anything else we really want to make sure that people have a great experience here, so we’re heavily focused on customer service, which is not the easiest thing to hire for and train.”
The shop carries more than 600 wine labels representing most major wine-growing regions of the world. Its largest sales come from grapes grown in California, France, and Italy. And when it comes to selecting those wines, Wang says he makes no compromises: “It has got to taste good and be something that we like and can enthusiastically sell and introduce to customers.”
Year after year, Everson Royce resolutely follows its guiding philosophy of “helping the people.” This is where friendships are made, relationships developed, and so much more. And like fine wine, we can expect Everson Royce to only get better with age.
Winemaker Night at Everson Royce
Kevin Jussila, owner and winemaker at Kukkula Wine in Paso Robles, loved winemaking and farming so much that he uprooted his family from their 2.5-acre Topanga residence in the Santa Monica Mountains to the rugged, picturesque beauty of Central California’s Adelaida District.
With a nod to his heritage, Jussila named his winery Kukkula, Finnish for “the hill” or “high place.” His grapes are organically grown using dry-farming methods. He was on hand at Everson Royce this past March to share his personal story, and the passion he brings to winemaking, with the dozens of patrons who routinely come out to the shop for its highly touted winemaker night. Casually conversing with a winemaker while sipping on the end-product of their labor of love in Everson Royce’s intimate surroundings is a signature experience, unique to the 6-year-old shop. Whether you’re a novice wine taster or a seasoned connoisseur, Everson Royce uncorks a fun and memorable evening.