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First Collaborative Winery and Tasting Room Opens in Paso Robles


Date: 06/27/13

Paso Robles, Calif. Cellar Mates—the first and only collaborative winery and tasting room on the Central Coast will open Saturday, June 29, 2013 with a grand opening celebration at 2975 Limestone Way in Paso Robles. The winery will be open for tasting from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. with grand opening festivities beginning at 4 p.m. Cellar Mates is the home of First Crush Cellars and MCV wines. There will be live music by the Blimp Pilots, food from Avant-Garde Experience and a raffle with prizes given out throughout the day. The grand prize is a Crush Encounter for two from First Crush Wine Experience.

Cellar Mates is a new winery concept established by Becky and Lowell Zelinski who also own First Crush Cellars. The Zelinskis started First Crush Wine Experience in 2008 by offering consumers unique and extraordinary “berry-to-bottle” wine experiences. They also began producing First Crush wines in 2008 and released their first vintage in 2010. As a small winery, the Zelinskis found it difficult to find an affordable place to make their wine, and more importantly store, manage and bottle them. They assumed that other small wineries might face the same challenges so decided to open Cellar Mates to offer a solution to that problem.

According to Becky Zelinski, collaborative tasting rooms and custom crush facilities are common, but the Cellar Mates business model is unique.

“Cellar Mates is a convenient and cost-effective way for four, like-minded boutique wineries to essentially have their own winery and tasting room at a fraction of the cost if they were to do it on their own,” she said. “Most other facilities might give a winery one or two of these options, but there isn’t a place in Paso Robles that gives wineries the advantages of all three.”

Some of the advantages include reduced production costs for wineries because they are able to produce and manage their own wines, as well as reduced costs of running a tasting room since staff, marketing and facility management is all included in the lease. The facility also has an outdoor picnic area and small banquet room.

Cellar Mates is located in a new, up-and-coming area for the Paso Robles beverage industry conveniently located just east of Highway 101 between Paso Robles and Templeton. In addition to Cellar Mates, there is a micro-brewery and a few other wineries opening soon. The tasting room has a rustic, industrial feel with a 20-foot cave as the backdrop to the tasting bar. The cave was constructed by Sport Rock International—a locally-owned company owned by Mike English. English owns the development where Cellar Mates is located and builds caves and climbing walls around the world. The cave was sculpted by his artistic director who formerly constructed caves and rock formations for Disney.

The 7,000 sq. ft. winery will house up to four boutique wineries, which currently includes the Zelinski’s winery, First Crush, and MCV. MCV wines are produced by new and upcoming winemaker, Matt Villard, whose wines have been recognized and highly rated in Wine Enthusiast. First Crush specializes in award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux and “unique Paso” blends.

Zelinski said the opening of Cellar Mates fulfills a dream for First Crush and the owner of the complex.

“Mike (English) has always dreamed of this area becoming a vibrant, new place for wineries and other retail establishments and we’ve always dreamed of owning our own winery and tasting room,” Zelinski said. “So the opening of Cellar Mates is a dream come true for both of us.”

Cellar Mates is open Thursdays and Fridays from 1 p.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturday-Monday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission for the grand opening is free. In addition to the live music, wines will be available for tasting and for sale by the glass and bottle. There will be barrel samples and gourmet food prepared by chef Thomas Drahos of Avant-Garde Experience—formerly the head chef for Fenemonal. For more information, call 805-434-2772 or visit www.FirstCrushWinemaking.com.

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