Corey Arballo has been in the wine industry for nearly 20 years. His love and passion for the industry started informally when he was mentored by the original beverage buyer for Trader Joe’s, Bob Berning. From there, Corey’s journey took off, and he began running the merchandising for multiple wine and cheese departments
In 2009, another opportunity arose. Corey got the chance to run a cheese department in Northern California. That’s when an idea struck him. He decided to create new and innovative pairings utilizing Trader Joe’s products, including various cow, goat, sheep, and vegan cheese varieties. As a practicing vegan/vegetarian, he saw the need to give the consumer options. And it took off.
What began as an independent cheese demo program for individual stores spread from northern to southern California stores. In 2011, he reached his last store in the San Fernando Valley near Los Angeles.
Corey then launched Le Velo Voyage, a personal in-home pairing experience with a sommelier. From there, he worked for many retail establishments, including the last remaining winery in downtown Los Angeles, San Antonio Winery. There he began hosting some of the largest, most revered pairing events in the wine history.
Corey continued that passion until 2020 when he was presented with the opportunity to transform a wine department for a retailer in Bend, Oregon into something new, creative, and fresh. Showcasing pairings instead of just wine tastings each week, he had the chance to let his creative side flourish by utilizing products from the store shelves with great success. It created for him the path to host first-of-their-kind 101 classes on wine tasting and regions for the retailer.
As a family man and father to a three-year-old son, when Covid struck, Corey had to find new work. In the midst of the new movement for equal rights and diversity that echoed from our streets, he began brainstorming a project that would create positivity and inclusion for all.
That’s when Breaking Bread with Corey was born. Streaming live on Instagram, he created a platform where sits down and shares the real, in-depth stories of what he calls the true blood that pumps through the heart of this industry. He celebrates minorities, including Black, Hispanic, Indigenous, Asian, LGTBQ, and women makers of vegan, natural, and biodynamic wines that drive the industry.
This project gained mountains of support throughout the wine community, not just nationally but internationally. Corey has shared stories of ambassadors from wine regions in the UK, France, and New Zealand. His goal is to create an opportunity for ambassadors – who may not otherwise have the resources – to share their passion and vision.
Corey hopes to continue sharing what he loves and what he has learned about wine. He wants to present to the world a true and unbiased narrative about the industry. According to Corey, “I always say, it’s not about the label, region, or price, but by what’s in the glass.”
Corey’s Picks for the Vegan Wines May Sommelier Bundle:
2017 Nerkihue Quiebre Malbec
I had the Quiebre 2017 Malbec from Colchagua Costa in Chile. It has soft, medium tannins with notes of dark chocolate and red and dark berries.
Pair it with soyrizo topped with Daiya pepper jack cheese and potatoes.
2011 Chateau Beausejour La Petite Robe Poivrée
From the Montagne-Saint Emilion region of France, this is a classic French style of organic earth, dried flowers, and rich dark fruit.
Pair this classic bottle with organic mixed berry cereal bars and 77% dark chocolate.