May 22, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

Winemaker Creates Sky High Wine at the Century

Ronald Sasiela.
Ronald Sasiela.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way – and if there are tricky circumstances that hinder a hobbyist from practicing a beloved pastime, enough persistence and passion can tweak the situation. Ronald (“Ron”) Sasiela, who has held home winemaking as a hobby for more than four decades, had to think outside the box upon his move to his 17th floor condominium in Century City.

Although continuing to make wine seemed unlikely after relocating from rural Maryland, Sasiela’s hobby defied the odds.

“Winemaking has been a hobby of mine since 1972,” Sasiela said. “It all started when my older brother was given a wine kit.”

Whereas his brother was an electrical engineer, Sasiela’s academic background was in chemistry, which ultimately made for a better fit with the concept of winemaking. What started out as a “hand-me-down” from an older sibling grew into a flourishing interest.

“Wine has an aspect of chemistry,” Sasiela explained. “It involves hydrometers and tubing. I had always enjoyed drinking wine casually, and with my training in chemistry, I thought I might enjoy exploring winemaking.”

Sasiela also has about 40 years of experience in the food industry under his belt, which assisted in developing a more informed grip on winemaking.

After retiring and dabbling in consulting, Sasiela and his wife Carole moved to Century City about two years ago.

“My wife had had an interest in moving to California for many years,” Sasiela said. “When it came to winemaking, I knew that we’d be in the epicenter of wine-growing country in California with access to great grapes.”

However, as a resident of The Century, Sasiela initially did not know how to continue one of his favorite pastimes on the 17th floor of a brand new unit in an urban community.

“I didn’t know what to do with all my wine supplies, so I asked: ‘why don’t we see if we can convert one of our closets into a wine cellar?’” Sasiela said.

After working closely with the general contractor who was already renovating Sasiela’s living space, one of the closets was transformed into a temperature-controlled area for both winemaking and wine storage, all the while maintaining strict building rules and regulations. Since the term “wine closet” didn’t quite stick, the insulated little space was deemed as the Sasielas’ “wine grotto.”

Sasiela produces anywhere from 15-25 gallons of wine a year.

“For the most part, I make pleasant-tasting table wine,” Sasiela said. “I’ve dabbled in certain fruit wines and sparkling wines as well.”

It’s clear that his hobby has developed into a talent as well – in fact, his cranberry wine won first prize at a county fair.

“As a home winemaker, you’re capable of making wine to fit your own taste,” Sasiela said. “It’s much like a chef making a dish – it requires a certain amount of creativity that I really enjoy using.”

Sasiela's "Wine of the 'Century'"
Sasiela’s “Wine of the ‘Century'”

Some of his creativity has come to fruition in the form of the new label he has created for the wine he has bottled in California, as he cleverly alludes to the name of the residential building that he calls home.

“Crafting the expression ‘Wine of the Century’ is obviously a way that I was able to put my arms around the whole California move experience, the building’s name, and the clear double meaning hidden in the phrase,” Sasiela explained.

Sasiela has also sensibly attuned his wine bottles to other Californian circumstances with the installation of “earthquake straps” that are to prevent the bottles from bouncing off their metal supports in the case of an earthquake.

Although the creation of the “wine grotto” required creativity and effort, it’s safe to say that Sasiela’s hobby is going strong.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Sasiela said. “And my wife says that my first L.A. bottling was my best.”

  • Do you have a story idea or news tip? Contact Corina Mun by email at Corina@smmirror.com.
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