Friends of the Library Wine Tasting Selections in Good Hands

Bill Sullivan of the Bottle Shop is selecting wines for the 41st Annual Friends of the Library Wine Tasting, Feb. 18th

Imagine over the holidays you invited 500 of your closest friends over for dinner and wine. Now imagine that these same 500 are pretty sophisticated wine drinkers –each having a different preference for varietal, and each expecting to find their “surprise” vintage.

Such is the job description for Bill Sullivan, 26-year owner of the Bottle Shop in Sierra Madre. This will be the second year Bill has taken on the task of selecting the wines for the Friends of the Sierra Madre Library’s Wine and Cuisine Gala scheduled next month. This means finding the right wine makers among hundreds of wineries that bottle some of the world’s finest wines right here in California.

“Because this is my second year, I can now take a look at some of the sales trends to meet the demand at this event,” said Bill. “I have a good idea of what attendees purchased, and can make adjustments for next month,” he added.  According to Sullivan, the most popular wine at last year’s Friends event was Pinot Noir, with Zinfandels running a close second. Most of the wine purchased was under $15 a bottle. “Many in the community don’t realize this is great opportunity to BUY wine. This is a convenient way to “visit” over 20 different producers. And, because the wines ordered that evening are discounted 15% – 45% off retail, for those buying wine, this savings should easily pay for the cost of the ticket.”

So, how are the wineries chosen? “I’m most concerned with the value of the wine, finding that right balance of quality and value” Sullivan said. He works to find a good selection of not only different varietals, but Bill focuses on wine that is affordable.  “There are always brands that some find comfortable, so we make certain that some familiar wines are present, such as Jordan, Mondavi, or Sterling. Most of our folks are now looking for value in wine,” Sullivan answered. “With so many wine-related events to choose from, it’s important that the attendee sees value in what they can buy, but also in the event. This is really a unique community effort, which is a win-win-win for everyone – the Library is supported, the producer get’s to promote the wine, and the attendee is buying wine at a significant discount off retail.” Bill added.

So, what was most surprising about last year’s event? “Without a doubt, it was WHERE the attendees were from,” Bill answered. “I’d expected to see mostly Sierra Madre residents, as this is an event to help our local library.  But because friends told friends, who told friends, it seemed that a many of those buying wine were from outside the city, he added. “This method of advertisement really speaks to the overall quality of the evening.”

Thus far, Sullivan expects the participating wineries to be Madellana, Sterling, Coppola, Hahn, Jordan, Mumm, St. Francis, One Hope, Cupcake and Beringer.

Mark your calendar to attend The Sierra Madre Friends of the Library 41st Annual Wine and Cuisine Tasting Event. The always-popular evening will take place at the Alverno High School Villa, 200 N Michillinda Avenue, on Friday February 18 7:00p – 9:30p. General entry tickets at a cost of $60 will allow entry at 7:00, but Premier admission will allow 100 folk an early entry at 6:00 and include many new surprises. Current paid members of the Friends will receive a $5 discount off general entry when purchased at the library.

Tickets can be purchased at Arnold’s Frontier Hardware, The Bottle Shop, Iris Intrigue, and Savor the Flavor. You can also pick up tickets at the Sierra Madre Library, or on-line at

In addition to attending one of the social highlights of the year, you’ll enable the Friends to support your library services and programs. This past year The Friends of the Sierra Madre Library provided over $58,000 for equipment upgrades and improvements.