A Passion For Wine

Leora Madden’s grandmother was first generation Sicilian, so from a very early age she was encouraged to taste wine at the dinner table. Her parents took her to her first winery when she was 13 years old.

“As we entered the winery, I remember being unsure if we should be there at our age but the staff was incredibly welcoming and even encouraging,” says Madden in one of her blog posts. “The smells of grape juice aging in oak barrels overwhelmed and excited me in a way I had never experienced before. It was the beginning of a lifelong romance.”

As a young adult, Madden lived in California and her interest in wine increased with each new vineyard she visited. But it was when she attended classes at the Chicago Wine School that she began to consider making wine her career. Madden had always had an entrepreneurial spirit and it seemed natural to blend business with wine.

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She is now the owner of Pearl Wine Co. in Mid-City, located in the American Can building. Madden says she feels it’s a privilege to share her passion for wine with the community. Her store carries a large selection of wine, liquor and beer.  She also hosts community events, trivia nights, music and a wide variety of tastings.

Pearl Wine Co. has been a success but recently she’s faced a challenge. On March 1, American Can started a major renovation project. Madden says she knows that small businesses are the backbone of our economy and she thinks perhaps we don’t take into consideration the damage things such as road construction or development do to small businesses.

“They (American Can) said the renovation and construction would be done in April,” she said. “They took half of my parking lot. In May they removed my windows, so for 122 days we looked like we were getting ready for a hurricane.  Then it was supposed to be done in July.  I was recently told it wouldn’t be finished until sometime past the new year.”

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Madden’s business is down almost 30 percent from the previous year. She’s taken out business loans and tried everything to keep her business afloat. She even recently took on a second job.

“It’s the only way I could make it work to keep my baby alive.”

She is looking forward to the holiday season and happily shares her advice on entertaining and gift giving.

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“If you’re going to a party, look for something in the southern hemisphere, wines from South Africa, Argentina or Chile,” she says. “We have some good values with bottles for  $10 to $12.”

And if you’re going to give wine as a gift she suggests simply asking for help.

“That’s why we are here. We will work with your budget and if you tell us what your father-in-law likes to drink will find the perfect bottle.”

Madden’s first passion is helping people and educating them about wine.

“I do this to bring new and exciting wine, spirits and beer to our city and our state. That’s what it’s about. Each time someone visits we want them to learn something new.”




3700 Orleans Ave. Ste. 1C

New Orleans, LA 70119






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