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The First Sale

Every winery, every business in fact, has a first sale. You see the inaugural bills taped on the

back of cash registers for customers to see or the first order forms framed reverently on the office wall. The story of Levendi Winery’s first sale can’t be memorialized with a US $1.00 bill on a cash register; it was a serendipitous meeting between the founder, the Wine Baron, and a bottle of Levendi Cab.

The first sale wasn’t one bottle of Rosé or a case of wine to our sister-in-law. Levendi’s owner

David Gianulias took home to Southern California the first case of the first wine that came

rolling down the bottling line: 2001 Sweetwater Cabernet Sauvignon. That night, he brought a bottle with him to dinner at his favorite restaurant, Antonello Ristorante, in Costa Mesa’s South Coast Plaza.

Before the appetizer was served, Steve Ebol, manager of the restaurant and esteemed sommelier, came by Gianulias’ table to pull the cork and had his interest piqued by the new label. As a world traveler and seasoned expert, Ebol knew his wines and labels and was intimately familiar with the Napa Valley outfits. Gianulias, eager to spread the word about his new winery, recalled the story of Levendi and offered him a glass. “It’s a velvet bomb!” he exclaimed, savoring the fruitful, complex richness. The Wine Baron knew the bottle offered the perfect pairing for his restaurant’s fare and placed Levendi’s first order on the spot: 100 cases of the Sweetwater Cab.

Twenty years later, Ebol has since left Antonello Ristorante and joined Levendi Winery as its first Tasting Room Manager. He played an integral role in the grand opening in July 2022 welcoming visitors with his smile, sharing his knowledge, and filling glasses and hearts in equal measure. Come drop by the tasting room and hear the tale first hand from the Wine Baron himself over a glass of the storied wine.