Their childhoods were spent creating memories in Carmel. Now, sisters Lindsey and Shelby Pelio are hoping that their new Carmel Valley wine-tasting room—a design dream for aesthetes and oenophiles alike—leaves a lasting impression on others. “I love meeting new people and seeing them make memories here, whether it’s a bachelorette party or a family reunion,” Shelby says. “That’s what I enjoy the most.”
She and Lindsey grew up in Saratoga. On weekends, they’d often head 70 miles south to Carmel, where their parents had a second home in the downtown area. In the early 2000s, the family purchased a parcel in Carmel Valley, about six miles from the Pacific Ocean. “At the time, it was just land,” Shelby continues. “Today, it has our vineyard on it.”
Planting began in 2003, and the Pelios initially enlisted the late winemaker, Peter Figge. All of the grapes and juices were sold. Then, in 2016, with father-and-son winemaking team Greg and Chris Vita, they started bottling under the Pelio Estate Wines label. Soon after, Lindsey, 33, and Shelby, 30, decided that a tasting room would be the best way to share their wines locally. “We’re passionate about the wine and the area,” Shelby says.
They ultimately acquired the former Cowgirl Winery tasting room, just a short drive from their vineyard. A two-year effort with the esteemed architectural design firm Backen and Backen, along with Hawkins Interiors, McNickle Construction and Seven Springs Studio landscaping, transformed the Carmel Valley Village site into the elegant yet rustic venue that the sisters envisioned. While the footprint remains the same, the 2,000-square-foot space has been opened up, with new accordian doors amplifying the indoor/outdoor experience. “We didn’t want to change it too much,” Lindsey says, “but wanted to elevate it for a higher-end experience.”
The tasting room officially opened earlier this year, in May, during Mother’s Day weekend. “We weren’t fully staffed yet, and we ended up being pretty busy,” Shelby recalls. “Our poor mom was in the kitchen, washing glasses. We definitely have to make it up to her next Mother’s Day.”
Guests are greeted by inviting alfresco vignettes. An old wine trough from Turkey, procured from Olive Ateliers, has been converted into a fountain. Upholstered benches, next to a firepit, beckon. Amid half a dozen 200-year-old olive trees, a table with a base composed of reclaimed cement blocks from the Spreckels Sugar factory accommodates up to 22. And the “rosé pergolas,” as the sisters refer to a trio of shaded seating areas, will each soon be outfitted with a button that instantly notifies the kitchen of a request for rosé.
The tasting room’s exterior reflects the barn vernacular, with a painted metal roof and Western red cedar siding in a weathered gray finish. Inside, the cedar appears on the ceiling, too. The walls are treated with Venetian plaster and the existing concrete floors have been polished. A living room-style setup is front and center. “It feels like you’re walking into someone’s home,” Lindsey says. “It’s very welcoming.” To the left is the bar, and to the right is a dining table with a dozen seats; both are topped with live-edge walnut slabs.
Shelby, who has an affinity for interior design, notes that “we paid attention to every little thing.” Behind the bar, the handiwork of Artisan Glassworks is on display: An expanse of mirror is etched with the wave that graces the Pelio label, a reference to the vineyard’s proximity to the ocean. The charred wood shelving flanking the fireplace nods to the Monterey County wildfires of 2016—the year the sisters’ brand came into existence.
Pelio annually produces 1,000 cases of its pinot noir, chardonnay and rosé, all harvested from the family’s vineyard. According to Shelby and Lindsey, although the property exceeds 100 acres, only 14 are actually used for its sustainably and organically farmed grapes. The wines are available through its website and tasting room; the latter is the exclusive purveyor of the 2020 reserve chardonnay, $60, and 2021 reserve pinot, $85.
This year, Pelio was a multiple medal winner at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition in January and the Monterey Wine Competition in March. Along with glasses of wine, visitors to the tasting room—currently open Thursday through Sunday—can enjoy charcuterie baskets with a curated selection of locally-made provisions, like treats from Monterey-based Lula’s Chocolates.
The winery is Shelby’s full-time job, while Lindsey also works in the family’s commercial property management company. “On weekends, we pack up the car with our dogs and head down to the tasting room,” Shelby says of their joint commute from Los Gatos, where they live only a block apart. Their parents reside in Pebble Beach, giving the siblings a convenient place to crash. Shelby adds: “We’re together 24/7 on the weekends, living in the same house.”
Not unlike when they were kids, learning how to ride their bikes and later drive cars on the Carmel Valley land they love.
Visit pelioestatewines.com for reservations. <img src="https://assets-global.website-files.com/6457f19f1c1e1601e2c9c3f6/6487a9355b63a6818c705cea_CC-Icon--20.svg"alt="CC"height="20" width="20">
Anh-Minh Le is a Bay Area-based freelance writer and editor whose bylines have appeared in publications such as the San Francisco Chronicle, Nob Hill Gazette, WSJ. Magazine, CA Home+Design, Luxe Interiors + Design, Diablo and C Magazine.