We had the good fortune of connecting with Guido Cattabianchi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Guido, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born and raised in Valpolicella, a wine region outside of Verona, Italy. Growing up, wine was always around, vineyards are part of the landscape in a rather inescapable way. Several of my friends have wineries; wine, in general, is deeply embedded in our lives and it’s central to the local economy – a lot of businesses gravitate around the wine industry. The best summer job for us kids was harvesting grapes, something I always did while in high school. Growing up in a wine region doesn’t mean that one is automatically “into wine” as an adult, it’s just normal, regular life that incidentally involves wine. My passion started much later in my late twenties when I decided to pursue a sommelier diploma at one of the Italian organizations that offer certifications – FISAR – but one can say that it was always there, latent.
What should our readers know about your business?
I am the owner of Primal Wine, an online shop dedicated to natural wine. We sell wine made from sustainably-farmed grapes (organic, biodynamic, dry-farmed) with little or no intervention in the cellar – no chemicals, no additives, no filtration. Our extensive curation of the best natural wine producers from all around the world is what sets us apart, along with customer service and a clean-looking, easy-to-use website. The producers in our selection strive to make wine that is not only artisanal, but also ethical. I’m very proud of Primal Wine because it started primarily as a very personal passion project while I was still working full-time in my previous job. Early on, I realized it was something I really wanted to put my all into, so I quit my full-time gig and made it happen. We launched fairly recently, at the end of 2018, and haven’t looked back. The most difficult thing was balancing life and work – I’m terrible at that – especially in the startup phase, but somehow, with the help of my wife, I managed to pull through. It was hard and it still is, it’s a constant struggle to maintain that balance, even more so now that we have a baby. But if there’s a lesson in all of this, it’s that following a passion should never compromise family life and cause pain to the people you love.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
As a fairly recent immigrant – I’ve been living in Los Angeles since 2014 – I would probably be a very prosaic tourist guide. Also, my best friend is Italian, and like most Italians, he has an idealized image of Los Angeles in his mind. I would definitely take him to all the classic coastal spots, such as Venice Beach, the Santa Monica Pier, and perhaps some more hidden beaches north of the city. I would then go Downtown and grab a bite at Grand Central Market, then check out Bunker Hill and the Bradbury Building while in the area, as well as the Last Bookstore. On our day West, I’d take him to the Fairfax district, where I lived for many years. We’d probably have a 2 pm potent drink at the Kibbitz Room, then go to LACMA and the Farmers Market – classic stuff. We’d probably be eating constantly, at every spot. For a night out, Koreatown for a barbecue and some drinks – and we’d probably double-down the next day, but with Korean bar food and more drinks (my wife is Korean-American, we’ve eaten and hung out extensively in Koreatown). We would probably spend the next day winding-down, having a bite East and hitting up one of the natural wine bars in the area.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my family, not only to my mom, dad, and sister but also to my grandparents. They were humble shopkeepers, both on my maternal and paternal sides. They were an integral part of the small Northern Italian town where I grew up, actively contributing to the recovery of my country after World War I and then World War II. They definitely laid the foundations for who I am, working incessantly and selflessly so that my parents could get an education. Both my sister and I grew up very close to them – we all lived next door to each other on the same block in a very old-fashioned Italian way – and have fond memories of them. I’d also like to give the biggest shoutout to my wife, without whom I would have been completely lost navigating the stormy waters of Los Angeles after we moved here from Italy (she’s from Los Angeles). I couldn’t have accomplished anything at all on this side of the Atlantic without her.
Other: Clubhouse: Guido Catta
All images are mine.