The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2012

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Page 79 of 124

WINE BARS By-the-Glass, By-the-Glass, By the THERE'S A LOT TO POUR AT TASTES OF THE VALLEYS IN PISMO BEACH Beautiful Sea A t the turn of the 20th century, Pismo Beach was a stopover town, due to its mid-way location between Los Angeles and San Francisco. In the 1930s and 1940s, it was a quiet beach getaway for Hollywood celebrities. Now, this picturesque city is the gateway to California's Central Coast wine country, ten minutes away from the Edna Valley and within close proximity of Paso Robles to the north and Santa Barbara County to the south. At the heart of Pismo's "downtown" area is Tastes of the Valleys, an unexpectedly well stocked and serviced wine bar and retail shop that maintains a steady customer base and a whopping 700 wines by the glass. "First, I invested in a wine bar [of the same name] in Solvang, with my wife, Lissa Hallberg," says propri- etor Ash Mehta. "We took over in 2008, when times were not so good." That said, business picked up, and the couple, who live in Pismo Beach, decided to do a "wild thing" and open a sister location in their own neighborhood. Ash Mehta, proprietor of the busy—and well stocked— Tastes of the Valleys in Pismo Beach, CA. "Our wine-by-the-glass program evolved out of a unique concept: We open up any bottle a customer requests," explains Mehta. The program started at 150 wines by the glass, and he has seen as many as 100 of them opened during local festivals. Mehta adds, "We will open all 700 if that is requested. We have been looking forward to someone challenging us!" Now, he utilizes the open-bottle concept for his popular flights. "We offer six one-ounce pours, but we don't deliver all six glasses at once. We come back and keep pouring, one by one. We're here to please, and if one of the wines in the flight is not satisfactory, we replace it until the customer is happy. It's about constant interaction: We don't want to leave people alone to taste."How does he do it? "Sure, we are stocked to the gills. There's just no more room; over 250 wineries are represented here. But we are unique enough—and small enough—not to have hundreds of people come in at once. So we can use up our supply of available wines. Plus, the best news? We have no competition in the area." —Meridith May june 2012 / the tasting panel / 79 PHOTO: JEREMY BALL

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