You could argue about whether AZA has the best lawyers in Houston, but you can’t argue whether AZA lawyers have the best wine collections in Houston. They do. And the collections are massive and extraordinary.
AZA partner Demetrios Anaipakos has been working his way into Napa Valley wineries since he was an undergrad and law student at Stanford University where he wrote a restaurant review column. It led him on a path to becoming a top-grade oenophile known to the folks at Sotheby’s wine auctions and with early access to the limited cult releases from elite wineries like Screaming Eagle Winery, Harlan Estate and Sine Qua Non Wines. He also has access to private offerings from imported vintners like Domaine Leroy, Domaine Coche-Dury and Domaine Raveneau.
Demetrios and two other AZA partners have impressive collections of more than 15,000 bottles of fine wines, cult wines and rare finds stashed around Houston in multiple wine lockers. He has so many he has started using another partner’s home to store some of his bottles. The three partners also all have invested in Napa’s Whetstone Wine Cellars.
James Leahy of Marston Family Vineyards said Demetrios “knows so many people and vintners in Napa, it’s like he lives here. He’s like the Honorary Mayor of Napa Valley.”
AZA’s friends and clients have benefitted from this wine obsession and Demetrios’ “cork dork” status. At AZA parties and special wine tastings, vintners like Realm Cellars and Bevan Cellars have introduced new wines that Demetrios liked and, in several cases, they soon became critically acclaimed bottles.
At AZA’s 2018 holiday party, Will Segui of the William & Mary Wine Company poured a newly released wine. Shortly after the party, it got a glowing 96-point review, from top critic Antonio Galloni, making it suddenly hard to get a sip. “Demetrios has a rare ability to spot the diamond in the rough among wines,” said partner John Zavitsanos.
“He’s not just a status collector. He has an affinity for wines,” said Jamey Whetstone of Whetstone Wine Cellars, where Demetrios and two other AZA partners have invested. “He loves pinot noirs and a great red Burgundy. He has an affinity for a lot of what’s going on in California, and he has the same dark sense of humor that our small community has.”
Jamey estimates that Demetrios’ wine obsession is at “This is Spinal Tap – it goes to 11.” He said he’s thrilled to have investors in Demetrios and his two partners Amir Alavi and Joe Ahmad.
Joe said he first became involved with wine in law school, but at that time, he was drinking $2 German Rieslings. After he co-founded AZA, he was ”introduced to a world of amazing, but of course, pricier wines.” He said now that he’s an investor in a winery, he knows “the best way to make a small fortune in the wine business is to start with a large one.”
As for Amir, if he weren’t a lawyer, he says he’d run a wine tasting room. Probably all three of them would.
They may be wine snobs, but they aren’t stingy about sharing. With so many wine enthusiasts at one firm, AZA has built out a spectacular special events party room where they now hold their wine tastings for clients and friends.
James Leahy of Marston Family Vineyards put it like this: “Speaking on behalf of the Napa Valley, if it weren’t for Demo and his partners at AZA inspiring greatness and challenging the Napa Valley to push beyond the theoretical limit, I’m fairly certain we’d all throw in the towel and become lawyers or something.”