DUNWOODY, Ga. - Take one look inside Dunwoody’s Vino Venue, and it’s obvious that founder Michael Bryan really loved wine.
"We went on a trip to Napa Valley, and he fell in love. So, when he came back, he decided that he wanted to change careers and be an educator around wine,” says Michael’s wife, Lelia Bryan.
Michael and Lelia Bryan opened Vino Venue in 2012, creating a kind of gathering plane for other wine-lovers; it’s a wine retailer, full-service restaurant, and wine club, along with hosting wine and cooking classes. But the excitement of a new business was tempered by a shattering medical diagnosis.
"About a month after opening, we found out that Michael had been diagnosed with sarcoma cancer. Sarcoma is somewhat of a rare cancer,” says Bryan. “He battled it for five years, through multiple surgeries and chemo, and in 2017 we lost him."
News of Michael Bryan’s passing rippled through the wine community, reaching all the way to the lush vineyards of Italy.
"We have a very close friend who lives in Italy, in the Umbria area...his name is Lorenzo Polegri, and he and his son are chefs, but they also are winemakers. So, what we decided to do with Lorenzo is scatter [Michael’s] ashes in one of his newest vineyards, and he dedicated that vineyard to Michael. It's called Michael's Vineyard."
And now, Vino Venue is unveiling the first vintage made from the grapes literally growing out of Michael’s ashes. It’s called Pietra Fenice, and all profits will be donated to sarcoma research. The white wine will be available for order online and to buy in-person at Vino Venue.
For Lelia Bryan, opening the first bottle of Pietra Fenice is an experience she calls “amazing.” And asked if her husband would have enjoyed the white wine, a smile spreads across her face.
"I know he would! I know he would have!"
For more information on Vino Venue and ordering a bottle of Pietra Fenice, click here.
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