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CC Life Judy Salamacha

Cayucos Cellars Moves to Cambria

Wine lovers take notice — as of Feb. 3, Cayucos Cellars has relocated its tasting room from Cayucos to Cambria.

While product marketing strategists recommend that their clients find a niche, produce first, and maintain top market share, commercial realtors insist “location, location, location” is prime.

The godfather of Cayucos Cellars, Stuart Selkirk, scored being first in Cayucos, but 11-years later, he determined the market dictated the small, family winery’s tasting room needed to move to a new location.

“We’ve done well in Cayucos,” Selkirk said about his strategy. “We still live here and will continue to make wine at the ranch, but I wanted to be closer to a cluster of wineries. Cambria promotes a wine tasting lifestyle.”

Timing also triggered the move. Within weeks of when their Cayucos lease was up for renewal, a prime location opened in Cambria, at 801 Main St., next to a cluster of their marketing partners in the “Pacific Coast Wine Trail.”

Moonstone Cellars is next door, Cutruzzola Vineyards and Black Hand Cellars are a few steps away, and Twin Coyotes Winery and Stolo Family Vineyards all share Cambria addresses.

Assistant Winemaker and Tasting Room Manager, Paige Selkirk, echoed her father’s marketing strategy to be one-on-one with customers. Their wines will continue to be introduced exclusively at the tasting room and at community or club member events. She explained their new site is much larger and has a horseshoe bar conducive to “a social atmosphere to create friends who have never met before,” she explained.

A winemaker since 1983, Selkirk’s “Swiss old world,” or hands-off methodology, produces 500 to 800 barrels annually allowing the wine to barrel-age without filtration. Known for its bold Cabernet Savignon and Zinfandel varietals, as well as Chardonnay, Selkirk also produces blends, though he’s not a fan.

He prefers wines with “extended barrel time,” he said, “to taste memory of the fruit instead of the fruit taste itself. Aging brings out the aromas and flavors I like.”

Paige added, “We do the aging for the customer.”

The Selkirk Family is no stranger to Cambria. Stuart, wife Laura, and children Clay, Ross and Paige all graduated from Coast Union High School. Their Cayucos Family homestead off Old Creek Road is where their wines are produced. It has a small vineyard of Pinot grapes. Most grapes are sourced from SLO County coastal and eastern vineyards.

In 2004, Stuart decided to flip-flop his career and avocation and his contracting business took a secondary position to full-time winemaking. Wine is the family business. Even son Ross will occasionally work in the tasting room, though he’s chosen to stay in the building trades.

Wife Laura is often found at the tasting room during club member events. In the last few years she’s enticed her husband to travel more, especially to Italian and French wine regions.

Clay and Paige followed their father’s passion for the wine industry and their first tasting room in Cayucos was inside Highway One, a retail shop owned by friend, Debbie Jensen. When she sold he business, Selkirk built a new space at 131 Ocean Ave., moving in Sept. 29, 2006. Selkirk and Clay worked it together.

Clay graduated from the University of the Pacific (in Stockton) playing rugby and majoring in the classics. After graduation his father invited him to be the assistant winemaker and tasting room manager. After relaying as much as Selkirk thought he could teach, he turned Clay over to his mentor, John Munch, when Munch opened Le Cuvier Winery and needed an assistant winemaker.

Ultimately, Clay realized his father was not trying to get rid of him, but it was a testimony to his winemaking talents. Selkirk and Munch understood the move offered Clay a chance to learn more about the wine business from a much larger operation. Clay is now the winemaker for Le Cuvier.

Paige majored in anthropology at the U.C. Santa Cruz and wandered Europe after grasduation, eventually coming home in 2012. She enrolled in dental hygiene classes at Cuesta College, but jumped at the chance to work with her father when he offered her Clay’s old tasting room manager job.

She’d worked in food and beverage since she was 14, but admitted, “Learning about the wine industry has been like going to college all over again.” She is now assistant winemaker and studying the financial side of the business, while serving as president of the Pacific Coast Wine Trails Marketing Group.

Cayucos Cellars (see: www.cayucoscellars.com) is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except Tuesdays, and located at 805 Main St., Cambria and Paige said an official grand opening might not happen until May 6 and held in conjunction with the Cayucos Cellars Club’s Pick-up Party. She’s consumed with helping produce the 9th Annual Wine 4 Paws fundraiser benefiting Woods Humane Society, and set for April 8-9 (see: www.woodshumanesocieity.org) and the Pacific Coast Wine Trail Passport Weekend on Feb. 17-18 (see: www.pacificcoastwinetrail.com/events).

Freelance writer, columnist and author, Judy Salamacha can be reached at: judysalamacha@gmail.com or call (805) 801-1422. Her Then & Now column is a regular feature of Simply Clear Marketing & Media.

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