If you live here on the Central Coast it’s very unlikely that you have not heard of 15C Wine Shop. As far as wine shops go it has been THE place to go for many years now. They consistently have great wines and interesting beers flowing along with food that pairs perfectly with all of it. You might have read this previous blog post, or this one in which I wax poetic about some of the amazing food we’ve had there.
15C is the brain child of Ali Rush Carscaden. In my opinion, she has played an integral part of wine education on the central coast for quite some time. They offer a wine education class that Annie and I have yet to take but I really want to. We’ll make it, one of these days. Anyways, if you know nothing about 15C check their website here and be sure to read the Q&A I did with Ali.
Thanks to Ali and her staff for spreading the wine word here in SLO County. You’re doing a great job!
Matt: Where are you from originally?
Ali: Sierra Madre, LA, but grew up from 8-highshcool in Ventura.
Matt: What brought you to Paso Robles/ Central Coast?
Ali: Cal Poly , majored in recreation administration and then was the second person ever to get a masters degree in the program.
Matt: What types of jobs did you have prior to the wine industry?
Ali: Life guarded, taught swim and surf lessons, managed collegiate sports club teams and worked in restaurants.
Matt: What got you into wine? Was it a particular wine, a person, or life event?
Ali: My mother is a Spanish professor and as a teacher, we spent summers traveling to Spanish speaking countries. My father owned his own business so he had a very flexible schedule. We spend a lot of time in Europe and over there food and wine are part of the culture.
Matt: How long have you been a sommelier?
Ali: I passed my advanced level Somm exam in March of 2008.
Matt: What is your wine/ sommelier philosophy?
Ali: I believe in balance. To me a good wine has balance and it also has soul. The soul part comes in when you know the place and people involved. With that said I also believe that wine is subjective and people should drink what they like. I try to help people find something that they will enjoy!
Matt: What 3 things would you tell someone that was trying to get into wine?
Ali: It is important to know the history of wine and the main styles and trends. It is also very important to have experience in the service industry.
Matt: How many years have you owned 15C Wine Shop?
Ali: 8 years.
Matt: What was your inspiration for opening 15C?
Ali: I wrote a business plan in college for a wine bar in San Luis named Salud! After my masters I became a wine rep for an amazing company, the Henry Wine Group for 6 years and at that time my largest retail account was for sale so I made an offer to buy it. After negotiating the landlord decided to buy them out of their lease so I was left with one option, to open my own shop. It was just as the new Trader Joe’s center was being built and I couldn’t think of a better place to open.
Matt: Do you have a favorite wine and food pairing or two?
Ali: I’m a purist, I like the classics, champagne & oysters, fois gras and sauternes and a kabinett Riesling with pork belly! Or just rose or bubbles by themselves.
Matt: Favorite varietal this time of year (Summer)?
Ali: ROSE! Usually a cinsault or mourvedre based one.
Matt: Speaking of varietal, is it varietal or variety?
Ali: IDK I use them interchangeably.
Matt: Favorite wine region (not Paso Robles)?
Ali: Spain’s Rioja.
Matt: When not drinking wine you’re drinking what?
Ali: Campari or Fernet.
Matt: Favorite restaurant or two in the Paso Robles area?
Ali: The Range & Il Cortile.
Matt: Any Paso Robles winemakers you are really intrigued with right now?
Ali: Mike Giuini of Jack Creek & Scar of the Sea.
Matt: Do you have a favorite wine related event in the Paso Robles area?
Ali: Firestone Invitational! Events out at Windrose farms & Beaverstock.
Matt: Favorite aspect/s of being in the wine industry on the central coast?
Ali: We live in paradise and working in the wine industry just makes it a lifestyle.
Matt: Least favorite aspect/s of being in the wine industry on the central coast (if you have any)?
Ali: Some people think they know a lot about wine and can be snobby but the truth is that there is always more to learn and wine should be appreciated for what it is and what went into it even if you don’t like it or drink it.
Matt: What do you do in your “non-work” time if you have any?
Ali: Be with friends, family, and cook! I also love being outdoors surfing, mountain biking, and hiking.
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