Business uses wine barrels as building blocks

While John Heilman uses wine barrels to build furniture and other household items, he admits he isn't much of an aficionado.

"I've never been a wine drinker," he said. "When I do buy it, I like my bottles under 10 bucks."

The Costa Mesa resident was working in construction when he stumbled upon the idea for his business.

"I was looking to build a product I could take to craft shows and I came across wine barrels," he said. "My daughter and I opened one up and started playing with it. Now here we are."

The 43-year-old started sketching designs, rented a small storefront in Costa Mesa and opened his business, The Winey Guys, in 2012.

Hand-crafted wine racks, deck chairs with wine glass holders carved into them, bar stools, dog beds, benches and serving trays line the walls of Heilman's petite store. He created them all, some with the help of his 10-year-old daughter, Emma, using only wine barrel pieces.

"People love wine barrels," he said. "It's something they don't see often. Plus, wine is huge right now. People like having things in their home that are associated with it."

The Winey Guys were originally Heilman and his business partner, but after his cohort dropped out, he kept the name.

"It's funny and I liked it," he said. "It just stuck."

Heilman realized early in his life that working in an office wasn't the lifestyle for him. He craved the attention to detail and creativity that it takes to build something start to finish, he said.

"I used to play on my dad's work bench and always enjoyed working with my hands. That's my passion," he said. "This store is kind of a dream."

The aroma of oak and red wine permeates from the freshly built items on display.

"It's the first thing people comment on when they walk in," he said. "It smells like a winery."

Heilman attracts more than just Costa Mesa residents with his wine-inspired products. He does custom orders and ships his products all over the world using websites like Etsy.

Prices range from $20 to $500 depending on the size of the item.

In addition to crafting wood furniture, Heilman also makes household products from the liquor bottles local bars save for him.

Jack Daniels, Grey Goose and Patron bottles rest on the tables of his workshop, ready to be sliced into serving dishes for dinner parties or cocktail glasses.

Though his business has grown in the past year, Heilman hopes to expand even further.

"I'm looking into creating full vanity sinks out of barrels next," he said. "It will be quite a project."

The Winey Guys

629 Terminal Way, No. 11, Costa Mesa

(949) 287-1272

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