Dustin Lancaster has a signature move behind a bar. Well…actually, he has several, but this particular move sets him apart. It’s the way he helps you and me choose the perfect glass of wine. And by “perfect,” I mean perfect for you. The way it works is this: you’ll likely be engaged in conversation within moments of your arrival at his bar. If you know what you want, the conversation continues and the wine flows. But, if you appear to have a question mark above your head, you’re in luck...you’ll get the signature “move.” A subtle tilt of the head, a surmising gaze, and then delivered in a heartfelt, inquisitive tone, you’ll hear: “choose an adjective.” It’s simple, effortless…and your answer usually leads to exactly what you were looking for in your glass.
That said, when considering what to share about Dustin with cyberspace, “choosing adjectives” seemed a fitting approach. If you asked his closest friends and colleagues, they’d say, “gracious,” “genuine,” “infectious,” “magnetic” and “incredibly knowledgeable” (the adverb, a well-deserved addition). The good news for Covell patrons is if those who hardly know Dustin were asked the same question, they’d come up with the very same adjectives. What’s even better news for Covell patrons is that his knowledge isn’t just about the wine. It’s also about…well…everything else.
An old soul from rural Oklahoma, Dustin fell in love with the East side of Los Angeles a little over a decade ago, which is why he’s chosen Los Feliz as the location of this first endeavor. An actor by day and proprietor by night, Dustin has been cultivating a unique craft of making Angelenos want to meet, eat, drink and be merry at Café Stella in Silver Lake throughout his time here. Now, that craft and nearly every facet of his life is reflected in his design of Covell: it’s rustic, it’s creative, it’s inviting and it’s comfortable. Even the name refers to a home: “Covell” is the name of the street in Deer Creek, OK where Dustin recently bought his mother, Penni, a new house. You’ll hear Dustin say wine doesn’t have to be pretentious, intimidating or complicated, and that is exactly what is reflected in his purpose and execution of Covell.
Hilariously, if you asked Dustin to describe himself, you’d get “I’m just a Bud-drinking boy from Oklahoma.” To which one might respond: I guess you can take the boy out of Oklahoma, but fortunately for Los Angeles, you can’t get Oklahoma out of Loz Feliz.
Prompted a little further, Dustin would say he just loves people, he loves wine, he loves the adventure, and he loves what the future holds for Covell. To which one might respond: how ‘bout impassioned? Now, there’s an adjective…Matthew Kaner, Wine Director / Co-Owner
It all started over a bottle of wine. Fitting.
"Do you have L'Amourier?"
Who does this guy think he is?! That's my favorite wine.
"Yes we do, follow me please."
No one knows about this wine! How does he know about it?!
"How do you even know about this wine?"
"We used to have it at the restaurant I work for but not in a long time. It's my favorite."
This guy knows his stuff.
"Where do you work?"
That was the first real exchange between Dustin Lancaster and Matthew Kaner.
Wine is sacred in Santa Barbara, where Matthew grew up. A new rockstar region in the wine world was being exposed while Matthew pursued his first love of music as a career. Funny thing is, all he ever wanted was to be able to afford a nice bottle of wine. A college roommate of Matthew's at the University of California at Santa Barbara came from a family that coveted wine, collected wine, sought the world over for the finest wine and food pairings. Grand Cru Burgundy, Grower Champagnes, aged German Rieslings, Madeira from the late 19th Century. This was Matthew's introduction.
After leaving a restaurant manager position at his high school job, Matthew decided to test the waters in the wine industry. The Wine Cask was hiring for a sales position in the wine store, an interview was conducted, and days later Matthew began working in a job that changed the course of his life. Leaving Santa Barbara had always been on his mind, and the leap from comfort to unknown became harder and harder to avoid. It was time to move to Los Angeles.
Upon arriving in Los Angeles in August of 2006, Matthew was working as a tour manager and also doing some of his own touring under Matthew Kaner & the Coalition. The house that brought Matthew to Silverlake was rented by a screen writer who was traveling to Europe for three months to teach a screen writing class, left on his desk was a postcard for Silverlake Wine. Matthew put the address into Google Maps and realized it was less than a half mile away. An invite to the Cinespia Cemetary Screenings left Matthew with the need for a bottle of wine and an opportunity to check out Silverlake Wine, this proved to be a serendipitous occasion. Looking at every bottle in the store, Matthew recognized a lot but also realized he didn't know many of the wines at the shop. This place was special. A week later Matthew emailed along with a resume to ask if Silverlake Wine would need any help, as he had time in between tours to work. He was offered a three day a week position. It turned into a full-time job. It turned into a salaried position. It turned into his life. Three and a half years later, Dustin was opening a new wine bar in Los Feliz and he asked Matthew to join him at Covell as manager/wine director. The answer was certainly yes. It all started over a bottle of wine.