Peloton Cellars: A true “group” connection

Thursday, May 17th, 2012


An old Schwinn bicycle greets you as you come through the door of the Peloton Cellars tasting room in Avila Beach. Hanging on the wall over the bar area is an antique high-wheel bicycle known as a “Boneshaker” – the first type of true bicycle with pedals, which was invented in the 1860’s. Decorating the base of the bar are dozens of round bicycle gears, and hanging from a perch near the wine supply is a cycling kit. You get the idea pretty quickly that cycling is a passion for the folks responsible for this business. But how does wine figure in?


It all began back in their college days when they developed an enthusiasm for wine. Through a series of mutual friendships and a shared love of cycling, Trish Kesserling (who at the time was still Trish Stanard), Kjell Akerstrom, and Jeff Brown (who attended Cal State Fresno) became close friends with brothers Bill and Tim Kesserling (Cal Poly alumni, who Kjell grew up with). After graduating, Bill found a job up north in the wine industry, hired some equipment and made his first vintage. After going their own ways, Kjell, Trish, Tim, and Jeff joined Bill in his venture and the group continued to make wine for four or five years.


Bill furthered his education at Cal Poly going for a Masters in viticulture and formed a consulting business called Kesselring Vineyard Consulting & Services (KVCS) on the Central Coast. As the owner of his consulting firm, Bill serves as vineyard consultant, vineyard manager, vineyard project development, and all aspects of wine grape growing for his clients. He advocates and practices sustainable farming and gives guidance on pruning techniques and plant nutrition. He is also a state certified pest control advisor. In 2005, Bill, Trish, Kjell, Tim, and Jeff decided to form Peloton Cellars.

From the beginning, the group of friends knew they wanted to make French-style wines, and they knew they wanted the name of their winery to represent the group as a whole. The word “peloton” is a French word meaning group, used to signify a group of cyclists in a race. Bill, Trish, Kjell, Tim, and Jeff chose Peloton for their wine business not just because of the cycling connection, but because of the group that came together to form Peloton Cellars.

Together this “peloton” has brought about a first-class winery producing French-style wines. In September of 2011, the tasting room was opened in Avila Beach right off Front Street. Environment was important in the design of the tasting room too and the group used reclaimed lumber in their décor.

Wines offered are dry reds in the French style, a couple of whites, and their flagship blend, Criterium which is 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Petite Syrah, and 33% Petit Verdot. The blend was matured in the barrel for about 3 years and 35 cases were produced. This is a full-bodied, complex wine with very smooth tannins, and pairs well with filet mignon. It is ready to drink now, but can be cellared for several years. It won a Silver medal in the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.

“Most of our wines have achieved 90 points,” Trish said. “Just about everything has won some kind of award.” Peloton Cellars produces about 700 cases a year in small lots.

The 2006 Old Vine Zinfandel is another success using grapes from the head-trained old-vine Dusi Vineyard in Paso Robles. It is rich and robust with moderate tannins and an elegant nature. This wine pairs nicely with most BBQ beef and poultry, as well as gourmet cheeses like Gouda & Brie. It’s recommend that it be opened and decanted for 30-45 minutes.

The 2007 Old Vine Zinfandel is also from Dusi Vineyard and is rich and robust with moderate tannins and a smooth finish. This wine is ready to drink, but it can also be cellared for two to three years. Decanting is recommended for about 30 minutes before drinking.

Peloton’s 2010 Chardonnay is a crisp, Chablis-style white from the Jespersen Ranch outside of San Luis Obispo. This wine has a crisp taste, with less acid, a nice mild fruity and buttery finish. It pairs nicely with white meats, seafood, Asian cuisine & gourmet cheeses. It is best served chilled.

Other wines are 2005 and 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 Laetitia Syrah, and 2008 Sauvignon Blanc. At the tasting room wines are served along with seven to eight varieties of cheeses from Vivant in Paso Robles.

Wine enthusiasts can taste all of these wines at a variety of events. Upcoming is the SLO Vintners “Roll Out the Barrels” on June 21 to 24. Peloton will participate in the Passport to Wine Country and Barrels in the Plaza. They will also pour at the Harvest Celebration held at Avila Beach Golf Course on November 2 to 4, 2012.
On September 1st, Peloton will hold its 3rd Annual Winemaker’s Dinner at the Avila Civic Center featuring wines paired with a five course gourmet dinner prepared by their friend, Chef Tara Stumph. On Thursday evenings, Peloton holds special events pairing their wines with many of Chef Stumph’s delicacies. You can also find their wines on the menus of area restaurants, such as Windows on the Water in Morro Bay and Rosa’s Restaurant in Pismo Beach. It is also for sale at the Morro Bay Wine Seller on the Embarcadero and Woodstone Marketplace right off of the Bob Jones Trail in Avila Village.

“We recently completed an outdoor patio, which features a gorgeous ocean view,” Trish said, “We are licensed to serve wine on the patio, which is perfect for summer and sunset.” There is a comfy sofa and two side chairs for those who want to linger and the bar stools are upholstered with seat backs making for a more comfortable time at the bar.

Perhaps the most exciting new venture for Peloton Cellars is the formation of a cycling team through the patronage of the United States Cycling Federation. “We are applying for a license to have a Peloton Cellars cycling team,” Trish said. Peloton Wines will be poured at the VIP tent for two stages of the 2012 Amgen tour.
The unique blend of wine, friendship, and cycling makes Peloton Cellars a must-visit site when in Avila Beach.

Peloton Cellars is located at 470 Front Street in Avila Beach. Tasting room hours are Sun. through Thur. 12:00pm to 5:00pm and Fri. and Sat. 12:00pm-8:30pm. For more information, visit their website or call (805) 627-1080. They can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

— Ruth Ann Angus


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