Atwater Village wine shop owner dies one day after store opening

Oeno Vino| Casey O'Brien

Oeno Vino| Casey O’Brien

ATWATER VILLAGE —  After much work and effort, John Wolfenden celebrated the opening of his new Glendale Boulevard wine shop last Wednesday with champagne. “It was great,” said Cheryl, a clerk at Oeno Vino. But a day later, Wolfenden’s employees, family and friends were stunned to hear that Atwater’s newest business owner had been found dead.

It’s not clear what caused Wolfenden’s death. A Go Fund Me fundraiser page set up by some of his acquaintances said that his wife, Suzanne Zizzi, found him unresponsive on Thursday, June 23. The couple have two young daughters, according to the Go Fund Me site. No further details were available.

Wolfenden opened Oeno Vino in the former 55 Degree Wine shop space, which is located in a small Atwater Village shopping center. The store focuses on wine and beer produced in small batches.

Cheryl, along with other employees and wine broker Casey O’Brien, are keeping the wine shop open. On Sunday, they tended to customers in the narrow store, which has  a downstairs tasting room. “We will take care of things for now,” said Cheryl, who did not want her last name published. Said O’Brien, “We’re more than happy to pitch in.”

O’Brien said he had met Wolfenden only a few months earlier as preparations were being made to open the store. It did not appear that Wolfenden had owned a wine shop before.

This coming Friday, Oeno Vino will hold tasting and tours as part of an event to introduce Wolfenden’s wine shop to the community, O’Brien said.

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  1. Hello Eastsider, The article list the date as July 23. Did you mean June?

  2. Can you update the article or post about the updated event details? The benefit tasting will be held from 2 – 10 pm this Friday at Oeno. Oeno will be offering beer and wine tastings, and an hourly raffle for prizes. Come out and stock up for the 4th of July holiday while supporting a great cause.

  3. Very sorry to hear this. RIP. The shop looks nice. Just saw a picture of the downstairs on another website.

  4. John opened this shop with his wife and equal partner Sue. Who is extremely knowledgable and dedicated to the business. How very sad it is for the family.

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