Oh, to be a wine collector. Vino has an enduring allure of taste, fragrance and bouquet that enhances the enjoyment of a meal and the feeling of a moment. Each glass tells a story about the region that grew the grapes and the soil that the vines took root in. Unlike other collections, wine changes over time, maturing and developing in interesting new ways. Meet three Tampa residents who take us inside their impressive home wine rooms, custom made and filled with beautifully displayed, special bottles.
Sharing The Sentiment
At 19, Tim Alberdi discovered that school wasn’t his thing, so he opted to work in a Tallahassee wine shop where a bottle of 1978 Chateau Gruaud Larose sealed his obsession with vino. He has been in the business for 38 years since then, running his own wine retail shop, Redneck Wine Company, in Palma Ceia for the past decade.
Alberdi has focused his personal collection on bottles from his children’s birth years (Nina in 2000 and Tony in 2001, fortunately both quality Bordeaux vintages). He is up to about 4,000 bottles, dominated by Bordeaux and old-world selections, but he also has a diverse assortment from all over the world.
Several hundred bottles are large format, including rarities like a golden 6-liter Chateau Suduiraut Sauterne dessert wine and a 3-liter 2001 Chateau Petrus. The latter from his wife is now worth an estimated $35,000. His oldest bottle is a 1945 Rivesaltes, a fortified dessert wine.
Alberdi’s wine is displayed on custom-built cedar racks in a 12-foot-by-20-foot insulated room just off the living area of his South Tampa home. Visible immediately upon entering the house, it often has a wowing effect on visitors. He loves having a glass with his wife, children and friends over meals and sports games alike.
“Wine has brought me a lot of joy,” Alberdi notes. “It’s been an integral part of my friend group and something for my kids to learn about.”
Stairway to (Wine) Heaven
Employed in the workers compensation insurance industry, Michele Avila found herself wining and dining clients with a growing thirst for wine education. A close friend introduced her to a wine club about 15 years ago, kick-starting her collection, which is up to about 450 bottles today, the overwhelming majority of which are cabernets. The Tampa native is all about pairings to enhance a meal, observing different flavor profiles.
Her collection is mainly fed by traveling to wine regions, supplemented by wine club memberships and small vineyard friendships. Her three most prized bottles are a 1988 Cos d’Estournel Bordeaux she recently bought from the year she married her husband, Nicolas; a 1992 Opus cabernet bordeaux blend from Napa Valley, the year their oldest daughter, Christina, was born; and a 1997 Caymus Special Selection cabernet from Napa, the year their second daughter, Alicia, was born. She logs all her bottles on an app to organize and quickly locate her inventory.
Underneath the staircase of their two-story house, Avila hired Cave a’ Vin to install a custom wine room in 2021, a welcome upgrade from Avila’s wine fridges. Cave a’ Vin co-owner Paul Wiezorek identified it as a perfect spot for her and guests to access and admire the collection from the family room.
“Every night I sit on my couch watching TV, turn on the dimmer lights to the wine room and can appreciate it,” Avila says. “I most enjoy tasting different vintages or different grapes or blends. Everyone’s palette is unique, but wine is universal. It helps to bring people together.”
Business And Pleasure
Vivek “Vick” Seth developed a fascination with wine growing up in India around loved ones making sweet styles from home. He deepened his knowledge of the libation with a career on Wall Street, attending seminars and hosting closing dinners at wineries. Now the Palma Ceia resident runs his own investment company, Sunsar Capital, and delights in sharing bottles with investors and partners, as well as family and friends.
In 20 years, Seth accumulated 1,000 bottles in his wine room in the main living area, complete with lights that synchronizes to music. He designed it in 2013 with architects Brandon Hicks and Rick Penza of Twelfth Street Studio and Franklin and Nancy Sebastian of Sebastian Builders, with the help of wine consultant Julie Lanning.
“It’s functional art that sets the tone for an evening of entertainment while showcasing bottles that represent different memories and moments,” Seth shares.
Old-world reds dominate his collection, with the exception of French white Burgundies. Many bottles are from winemakers he hosted work conferences with in major U.S. cities. Seth’s oldest is a 1967 port and his rarest is an unnamed extra a winemaker gave him from an A-list wedding. Seth has limited-edition and one-time wines worth several thousand dollars, many aged for decades. Of the wine regions he visited, his favorite is Bordeaux, France.
“Those moments were really special,” he recalls. “I truly understood the history and the care that people give to wine. That definitely enhances my association with that wine.”
Craving a glass? Read our roundup of the best spots in Tampa to enjoy a glass by clicking here.