Triangle Wines Takes Flight in Westchester

May 2, 2024

After four years of planning, and anticipation from the neighborhood, a family’s love for vino has finally been realized with the opening of a new boutique wine shop and tasting room in the Westchester Triangle. Aptly named Triangle Wines, it joins other bustling businesses on 87th Street, including The Book Jewel, Ayara Thai, Soundsations, The Ramen Joint and Olive It. Owned and operated by longtime Westchester residents the Belotto family, this new addition to the neighborhood is sure to help fulfill the community’s need for more fun and relaxing social spaces.

Deep Roots in Westchester.

Triangle Wines is the brainchild of husband and wife team Christine and Andre Belotto, and their adult son Alex. They all say it was a no-brainer when it came to choosing the location to open their family business.

“My folks moved to Westchester from Torrance in the mid-60s. I was five,” says Christine.

Her parents saw the community, with its close access to the airport and the beach, not only as the perfect location to raise a family, but also as a great place to make a living.

“My dad was Danny the barber who had the barbershop next door. Everybody knew him. For 40 years he was the barber to generations of Westchester men and boys,” she says wistfully.

The fact that Triangle Wines shares a wall with what was once her dad’s shop is not lost on Christine. Today, Danny’s is Jag’s Barbershop, owned by George Garcia, which caters to the next generation of local families.

Like Christine, Andre’s roots go deep when it comes to Westchester. Originally from Brazil, he came to Los Angeles with his family when he was 12.

“My dad and I ran a family business in Westchester back in the 1980s. Down at the bottom of the hill, across the street from Dinah’s, there’s now a high rise. Before that, it used to be a Chevron station. That was our business and we specialized in foreign car repair because my dad worked at a Volkswagen dealer when he arrived here in 1969,” he says.

He recalls that the auto repair shop’s clientele was very loyal and there was never a need to advertise because of the power of word of mouth.

“I knew that doing business in Westchester was always community-based, always. That’s what I like about it. We really had no desire to go anywhere else,” he says.

Andre’s son Alex agrees that his hometown was the only place he considered opening the wine shop. Add in his grandfather’s connection to the Triangle and being able to follow in his entrepreneurial footsteps makes the experience of starting a business even more special.

Alex gets a haircut from his grandfather at the barbershop he owned in the Triangle, Danny’s.

 “I’ve never lived more than a mile away from this building in my life,” Alex says. “I live in the house that my mom’s parents lived in, and that she grew up in. They’re always in our minds and having a small neighborhood-type business right next door to where my grandpa used to have one sounded awesome.”

A Love Affair with Wine.

The Belottos share a toast.

Christine and Andre say they became enamored with wine shortly after they became smitten with each other. After getting married in the 1980s, they frequently traveled to Europe and South America where they would always visit wineries. They loved discovering new varieties–reds, whites and everything in between–to bring home, where they enjoyed them on the weekends. Soon, uncorking bottles from around the world and “swirl, sip and savor” became part of their lifestyle.

“You know, the kids would come over, we’d have dinner with wine, then sit on the couches and spend the evening talking,” says Christine.

For Alex, it was a wine-tasting trip to the central California coast about 15 years ago that opened his eyes–and palate–to the wonders of Pinot Noir, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc.

Like most young men in their early 20s, beer was Alex’s drink of choice, with a shot of Jägermeister added in when he wanted to turn things up a notch. But all that changed when his parents took him and his girlfriend on a life-changing winetasting trip to the Los Olivos area, just north of Santa Barbara.

“We went to three or four different places, drank wine and sat in the tasting rooms–some of them have these great outdoor spaces. It was just like, ‘Man, that was really fun!’ and a month later we did it again, and then it sort of snowballed,” Alex says.

One thing Alex loves about wine is that there’s no time limit to drink it, allowing the drinker to savor their glass and have plenty of time for great conversations to unfold over the evening.

“If you’re drinking a beer and it gets warm, or if you’re drinking whiskey on the rocks and the ice melts, it’s not the same,” he says. “But with wine, you can sit there for as long as you need to, and you don’t have to rush. I like the pace of it.”

A Family Business is Born.

In 2020, Alex became interested in starting the next chapter of his career in the beverage industry. With more than 18 years of experience working at Islands Fine Burgers and Drinks in Manhattan Beach, a busy, trendy spot where he served as the lead bartender for the last decade, he was ready to use his knowledge and pouring skills on a new venture. Combining his bar experience and Christine and Andre’s ability to curate wines from all over the world, they decided opening a local wine shop with a tasting room would be a great way to turn something they all loved into a business.

The front half of Triangle Wines is a classic wine shop, with artfully selected bottles from California and beyond. Wine regions in Italy, Portugal, Spain, France, Brazil, Mexico and more are all represented, and the trio is happy to help you discover just the right bottle, no matter the occasion.

After you peruse the shelves, visitors can head to the back half of the space to visit the tasting room, where the real fun happens. There you can order by the glass or bottle. To enjoy the full experience, the Belottos recommend ordering a wine flight. For just $15, you can try a one-ounce pour of four varieties. Thirsty? A flight with 2.5-ounce pours is also available for $25. It’s all about the experience of discovery, with the wine connoisseurs ready to answer any questions.

“We write down which wines you’re having in your flight so that you can check the notes and sort of compare and contrast. We let you keep the list and it’s up to you to decide what you want to pour next,” says Andre. 

If you’re not in the mood for the house specialty, an international selection of bottled beers is available, as well as hard cider and hard seltzer.

A Community of Kitchens.

While the cozy space at Triangle Wines doesn’t have room for a kitchen, there are many top-rated eateries nearby willing to offer you nibbles or full meals to accompany your adult beverages. If there’s a long wait at Ayara to enjoy some of the best Thai food in Los Angeles or the bar is full at Truxton’s, instead of waiting outside, customers have started coming in for a glass of wine to sip until the restaurant pages them to say their table is ready.

“We’re also telling people, ‘Go next door to Leslie [Augusto, owner of Olive It] and get your sandwiches. If you want to have a glass of wine with it, bring your food here,’” says Andre.

The family says Olive It, which is just two doors down, intends to create a customized charcuterie board with olives, cheese and meat. The plan is to create a special QR code for Triangle Wines customers, to facilitate the process and build synergy between the businesses.

“We’re not the middleman,” says Andre. “You’re dealing directly with them, so everybody wins.”

The Moms are so Excited!

When I chatted with the Belottos, Triangle Wines had only been open for a few days (their soft opening was Wednesday, April 17), but the interest from local residents and groups was already soaring. People were popping in to check out the space, try a new wine, and then sharing about the shop online and in reviews.

Christine says friend groups and local organizations, including a women’s club have already started making reservations to be among the first in town to try out their location, and check out 90045’s newest place to socialize.

 “One lady said to me, ‘I’m just tired of hosting all the time because it’s always at my house. We’re going to start coming here,’” said Christine.

And then there are the wine-enthusiast moms who have been carefully monitoring the shop’s progress, and have waited patiently for the grand opening.

“The moms in this town are so excited,” she says. “Two moms’ groups have already approached us for reservations.”

Proud to live in Westchester.

The Belotto family are humbled by the attention the Westchester/Playa community has already shown their new business.

 “We are so happy and thankful for the support we’ve gotten. In person and on social media, everyone has been so infectiously excited and positive, that we can’t help but feel the same way,” says Alex. “I’ve always been happy to live in Westchester, but this last week has made me proud to live here, too,” says Alex. 

But perhaps the initial buzz around town should not come as a surprise, since it’s the same experience that both Andre’s and Christine’s fathers felt from the community decades before.

“I’m sure my dad is smiling down,” says Christine.

Triangle Wines is located at 6235 W. 87th St. in Westchester. Call (424) 227-6176 for more info.

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Story Shanee Edwards. Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner.

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