$50 Reservation Deposit / CUCINA Enoteca Newport Beach
LA Laker Sasha Vujacic, Al and Goran Bjekovic, owners of Aleksander Wine join CUCINA enoteca’s Executive Chef Cesar Sarmiento and Beverage Manager Luke Wilmoth for a five- course- five -wine dinner pairing great vintages from Paso Robles.
Our journey began in Slovenia, a small country renowned for its distinct ability to produce quality wines of all kinds. Our co-founders, Goran and his eldest son Sasha, started to nurture a profound interest in wine during the early years of Sasha’s professional basketball career in Italy. Exploring the northern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia, they developed a deep appreciation for the wines of Livio Felluga. Quickly, the father and son began to envision themselves owning a family winery that would reflect their respective palates and inherent familial epicureanism. After he was selected in the 2004 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, Sasha and the family – joined also by his mother Sena, his brother Al, and his sister, Nina – settled in California. They quickly embarked on a quest for the perfect piece of land, which would take them one step closer to bringing their vision to fruition.
Having accomplished the goal of founding what is now S&G Estate in Paso Robles in 2010, the whole family joined efforts to create a memorable, Merlot-dominant red, reminiscent of Old-World wines, but made on California soil. After obtaining his business degree from the University of Redlands in 2016, and a subsequent successful season as head coach of a professional basketball team in Japan, Al decided to dedicate himself fully to Aleksander as Chief Operating Officer. Since the genesis of the family brand, Sena and Goran have resided on the estate, running every aspect of the business, from production to logistics, as well as curating exclusive private wine tasting experiences. While pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), their daughter Nina remained deeply involved in the family business.
Anyone who has met Sasha has experienced being around his charismatic personality. He is a very social person who enjoys spending time with friends and family. His passion and dedication to the sport of basketball resulted in two championships with the LA Lakers. Nowadays, Sasha constantly gives back with his involvement in basketball with the LA Lakers and the NBA. Sasha has a hidden love for soccer which he plays every Sunday and an unsatiable obsession with espresso coffee. He lives in Manhattan Beach and maintains a healthy lifestyle, still working out every day, became and avid golfer all while distributing Aleksander with his brother Al.
Al is the youngest member of the Aleksander family, and the Chief Operating Officer. Al also pursued a career in basketball, spending a year in Japan in 2018 as a player and coach. However, he found a bigger passion in business when taking over distribution and sales for Aleksander Wine. When he isn’t selling wine or promoting the family brand, Al fills his days with golf, basketball and a newfound love for fishing with friends and family.
Goran is Al and Sasha’s dad. He is also the owner and winemaker of Aleksander Wine. Goran is originally from Belgrade, Serbia. While his sons took passion in basketball, Goran and his wife Sena (also Al and Sasha’s mom) were professional volleyball players. Both were on the Yugoslav national team and achieved great success in their respective careers. Goran found a passion for wine when the family moved from Slovenia to Friuli, Italy in the year 2000. While living in Friuli, he visited local wineries and quickly gained interest from the winemakers due to his intriguing questions and pure love for wine. There, the dream was born within Goran and Sasha to one day have a family winery of their own.
Goran developed his palate in Italy, and after Sasha was drafted to the Lakers in 2004 and the family moved to California, he expanded his palate to New World wines. Although he enjoys new world wines, the vision for Aleksander even before it was founded, was to create an old world wine in the new world. Goran lives in Paso Robles on the family estate with his wife Sena. They are a dream team and find passion in creating projects around the property and living an epicurean lifestyle.