Pismo Beach wine bar named one of the top 20 in U.S.

Ash Mehta and Lissa Hallberg opened Tastes of the Valleys, a wine bar and shop, in downtown Pismo Beach in June 2010.
Ash Mehta and Lissa Hallberg opened Tastes of the Valleys, a wine bar and shop, in downtown Pismo Beach in June 2010.

Tastes of the Valleys, a downtown Pismo Beach wine bar, has been named one of the top 20 U.S. wine bars by Wine Enthusiast magazine — one of three in California to make the list.

“This well-stocked tasting room and wine shop sits just a few blocks from the beach and pours hundreds (seriously) of Central Coast wines by the glass,” the magazine wrote.

“The vast selection and wine-smart staff are why the bar is a favorite among local winemakers and industry insiders.”

Tastes of the Valleys, located at 911 Price St., was founded in 2010 and offers nearly 1,000 different wines from the Central Coast and around the world. It sells wine by the glass and the case and also offers wine-tasting flights of six one-ounce tastes tailored to guests’ individual palates.

The Wine Enthusiast ranking is “not only great recognition for us,” said Ash Mehta, who co-owns and operates Tastes of the Valleys with his wife, Lissa. “But it’s also a recognition of the great wines made here on the Central Coast.”

Their wine bar is “exceptionally sensitive to price,” he said, because of intense online competition.

“But our real value for our customers is that in one stop they can conveniently taste and compare the best wines from our region with the best wines from throughout California and the world.”

The two other California wine bars included in the top 20 ranking are San Francisco’s Fig & Thistle, and Los Angeles’ Bar Covell. The only other small-town wine bar named to the list is the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar, a combination bookstore and wine bar in Asheville, N.C.

The Mehtas just recently opened a second wine bar — Taste in the Alley in Paso Robles — in order to expand and be located in a top wine region. It offers more than 500 wines by the glass, as well as value pricing on bottles and cases to go and the six one-ounce tailored tastes.

“Paso Robles is gaining a real foothold in the wine business, and although there are several winery tasting rooms in downtown Paso Robles, there’s no real wine bar there,” Mehta said. “There was one, but that closed.”

Taste in the Alley is located on Norma’s Way, the alley that connects Pine Street to Park Street. Its official address is 1211 Pine St.

Mehta declined to disclose how much they’ve invested in the wine bars, but said sales and profitability have been strong. Sales at the Pismo Beach wine bar grew 25 percent last year over 2013 and have remained steady this year, he said.