We’ve known Lisa for right around 8 or 9 years. First meeting her when we went to her then winery, Pretty-Smith Vineyards, to taste. Somewhere along the line we became good friends with her and enjoy the world of food and wine together. Lisa is now, after taking some time off from the wine business, jumping back in head first with a new brand, P.S. Cellars.
Please take the time to read the following Q&A to learn about Lisa and her new brand. Most important, be sure to go to the Grand Opening on October 1st. We’ll be there. Details are in the Q&A below. Best of luck to Lisa on her new and exciting venture.
Matt: How long have you been in the Paso Robles area?
Lisa: I moved to Paso Robles in 2000 when I purchased Mission View Estate Winery. I had been looking for a vineyard/winery to purchase for over a year and on my first trip to Paso Robles I feel in love with the area and found the estate winery sitting on a mesa by the river bed. With the oak studded entrance and the view of the hills of San Miguel I knew it was a place I could call home. It had the bonus of feeling peaceful/remote with easy access — the property is just a couple of minutes from HWY101 and 15 minutes to downtown Paso.
Matt: How long did you have Pretty-Smith Vineyards & Winery?
Lisa: I transformed Mission View Estate Winery into Pretty-Smith Vineyards & Winery on September 1, 2000 — so it has been 16 years. As Pretty-Smith I made 100% estate-grown wines with most being Bordeaux varietals and blends. At one point I was farming 45 acres of grapes and wine production was up to 6,000 cases per year, as a one person operation that was way too much. I was honestly burnt out on both the farming and wine production parts of the business and decided to focus instead on building my marketing business, Pretty Media Creations.
Matt: Why did you decide to throw your hat back in the winemaking game?
Lisa: There were a couple of reasons for launching the winery/tasting room again. To be honest, the first reason is I didn’t find a buyer for the property since most people looking wanted an active winery showing profits and an on-going brand. With a 63 acre property, a winery, warehouse and guest apartment I realized I should really be making revenue instead of having all that real estate doing nothing for me. What started as a need to transform the property back into an active business became an exciting project. I realized I really missed the hospitality side of things and also wanted an outlet to sell some of my creative projects. My focus shifted from the production to hospitality and I’ll have short term rental guest apartment, event room and food pairings. By not farming the vineyards myself and keeping production levels low I think I can have a lot of fun.
Matt: How did you come up with the new name?
Lisa: Since the estate vineyards all need to be replanted, I realized I could select grapes/wines from anywhere and make whatever wines I felt would be good. That led me to the name “Pretty Selects” since I would be selecting what was made each vintage versus being locked into the estate planting. I wanted a name/brand that down the road someone else could take on, so I wanted it to be fairly generic – that led to shortened the name Pretty Selects to P. S. Cellars. That led to the whole post script theme for the brand.
It has been a lot of work transforming from the Southwestern/Kokopelli theme of Pretty-Smith to the more modern P.S. Cellars. Not only did I have to craft a whole new line of wine, I also had to design a new logo and labels, replace all of the signs, renovate the tasting room, patio area, winery loft apartment and the Pretty Café — basically the whole place received a facelift! I am happy to say that transition is almost complete.
Matt: How many cases under P.S. Cellars?
Lisa: P.S. Cellars will remain small with the max production around 1,500 cases. The brand will be sold exclusively direct to consumer. I will launch the new brand with just 700 cases in the cellar, a level that is easy to manage and will allow me to focus on the creative and hospitality side of things.
Lisa: The actual list with change each year, although I will always have a cabernet sauvignon and a Bordeaux blend since I have a passion for those. In addition to those two wines, I currently have arnies, grenache rosé, barbera, a grenache/syrah blend and aglianico.
Matt: What are the price points for these new wines?
Lisa: The price range is $24 -$48 for the current line-up.
Matt: What is your favorite part about reopening a tasting room?
Lisa: It has been exciting to start from scratch and start something brand new with total freedom to produce what I want. I think of it more as re-launching than reopening. I really like the fact that the tasting room will be a retail outlet for my other ventures as well. I’ll have some of my photography items for sale, my food and wine pairing books, and a new line of wine inspired food items under the “pretty eats” label. I’m hoping to make it a fun place to visit and have plenty of ideas of new activities for next year in addition to new consumer products.
Matt: When is the Grand Opening?
Lisa: The Grand Opening is October 1st from 1 to 4 p.m. I have Miss Oddette’s catering appetizers and Meet the Foppers will be playing on the patio outside of the tasting room. There is no charge for the event and I am really hoping a lot of people stop by to see the transformation and taste the new wines. There is a $10 tasting fee that will be refunded with the purchase of at least one bottle of wine.
Matt: What days/ hours will the tasting room be open?
Lisa: The tasting room will be open Friday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning October 7th. I’ll also be offering gourmet bite pairings as an upgraded tasting experience. For the Fall of 2016 the two options will be cheese pairings by Fromagerie Sophie or chocolate pairings by The Chocolate Stache. People are more than welcome to bring a picnic to enjoy on the patio.
13350 River Road
San Miguel, CA 93451