805 Living

Sommelier Q&A

Wine Wisdom
Local experts share their insider knowledge.
By Leslie Dinaberg

Jill Tweedie
Breakaway Tours and Event Planning
Central Coast
When Jill Tweedie founded her company in 1995, it was long before the Central Coast was popular as a wine region. She’s a Level 1 Sommelier and WSET [Wine & Spirit Education Trust] Level II in Wine & Spirits.

What are some of the best local wine buys for someone on a budget? Ancient Peaks offers great value and consistently delivers quality, well-balanced wine. Starting at $17 it offers a wide variety of standard editions—sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, rosé, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel, and topping out at $34 for its pinot noir. The white and red blends, Blanco and Renegade, are also delicious.

Hayden Felice
wine director
Acme Hospitality
Santa Barbara
As the wine director for Acme Restaurant Properties—which include The Lark, Lucky Penny, Santa Barbara Wine Collective, Loquita, and Tyger Tyger—Hayden Felice offers a knowledgeable view into the depth and breadth of the 805 wine scene.

What are some of the best local wine buys for people on a budget? Some of the best price-to-quality wines I’ve tasted in the last month are Sandhi 2017 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir; Samsara 2015 Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir; Stolpman 2018 Love You Bunches Sangiovese, Ballard Canyon; Stolpman 2017 Estate Syrah, Ballard Canyon; Pence Ranch 2017 Pinot Noir, Santa Rita Hills; and Pence Ranch 2017 Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills. Also, Melville’s entry-level pinot and chardonnay.

Koen Masschelein
director of food and beverage, certified sommelier
Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village
Westlake Village
Koen Masschelein previously held the position of director of food and beverage at Four Seasons Sydney, Australia. His career in the international hospitality industry has also taken him to Manila, Singapore, Beijing, Abu Dhabi, New York, and Paris.

What are some of the best local wine buys for people on a budget? There’s some crazy value to be found in the Southern California area. If you’re into trying something new, you will often be really surprised. The different syrahs from the Central Coast are so juicy and yummy. I recently had the Rhône varietals that Villa Creek produces in Paso Robles, and they’re out of this world. Their grenache blanc is to die for.

Kristen Shubert
owner, sommelier, founder of Wine Wars, 2018 Wine Tasting U.S. Open champion
VinTura Tasting Room & Wine Rack
Kristen Shubert was a member of the U.S. team that placed third at the World Wine Tasting Championship in Provence, France, in October 2016, and she was the first woman on the team. As the owner of VinTura Tasting Room, she currently presides over 72 types of wine served by the taste, glass, flight, or bottle.

What are some of the best local wine buys for people on a budget? Lincourt has very reasonable pricing on the standard chardonnay and pinot noir, as well as some fun wines like grüner veltliner that are under $20 a bottle.

Robin Puricelli
assistant director of food and beverage, sommelier
Lido at Dolphin Bay Resort & Spa
Pismo Beach
Robin Puricelli oversees Lido at Dolphin Bay’s wine cellar of more than 900 local and international wines, each expertly selected to pair with the restaurant’s coastal cuisine.

What are some of the best local wine buys for people on a budget? Bishop’s Peak wines made by Eric Johnson from Talley and his side-hustle label, Ann Albert; Fossil Point made by Nathan Carlson; Ancient Peaks made by Mike Sinor; Paix Sur Terre whites are stunning and over-deliver for the price; and Levo makes big, bold, yummy wines for a very decent price point.

Ali Rush Carscaden
owner, certified advanced sommelier
15c Wine Shop and Bar
Ali Rush Carscaden got her start with a job in the tasting room at Castoro Cellars in Paso Robles and later, armed with a master’s degree in agriculture, worked in sales for Eberle Winery, also in Paso, and as a fine wine specialist for the Henry Wine Group. She founded 15c Wine Shop and Bar in 2007 and enjoys leading special trips to France and Spain to enjoy the fruits of her passion’s labor.

What are some of the best local wine buys for people on a budget? I love the J Dusi Pinot Gris, Alta Colina Downslope, Broadside Cabernet, Scar of the Sea Pinot Noir, Ledge Grenache Blanc, and Thacher Rosé.