It should be no surprise that the main business of Eagle Rock’s Colorado Wine Co. is wine. But owners Jennifer Morgan and John Nugent could not help but notice that sales from their store’s small selection of craft beers were growing much faster than wine at their Colorado Boulevard business. When an opportunity to lease an Echo Park storefront came up, the husband-and-wife team decided that craft and micro brews – not wine – was the way to go. In partnership with investors and beer aficionados Andrew Vonah and Jenna Miller-Vonah, the group plans to open the Sunset Beer Co. in a minimall in the 1400 block of Sunset Boulevard early next year. The plan is to eventually stock the store and a tasting room with as many as 1,000 bottles of beer, ranging from $2 mini bottles to large, champagne-sized containers fetching $60 and more. John Nugent, whose own tastes in beer range from German pilsners to Miller, said Sunset Beer Co. would boast the biggest inventory of craft beers in Los Angeles.
Opening the business is a big step for Nugent and Morgan, whose current beer inventory fills only half a refrigerator at the Colorado Wine Co. The Echo Park store would open as more bars have been pouring craft and specialty beers and, earlier this year, the Eagle Rock Brewery in Glassell Park became the first new brewery to open in the City of Los Angeles in decades. With consumers watching their budgets these days, Nugent said craft beer sales have boomed in part because $10 can buy a large bottle of world-class beer, which is considerably cheaper than a bottle of wine of similar quality.
In addition to hiring staff for Sunset Beet, Nugent said he and his partners are seeking an alcohol license to allow beer tastings. With many Echo Park residents concerned about the growth in the Sunset Boulevard bar scene, and the issuance of beer and wine permits to several restaurants, Nugent is taking no chances and has begun to meet with neighborhood groups to address concerns. He noted that Colorado Wine Co. has not received any complaints regarding its alcohol license and has been a supporter of neighborhood organizations.