Jun 6, 2008

15 Degrees C

I realize 15 Degrees C is not a winery. It is in fact a retail store and wine bar next to Trader Joe's in Templeton. The times I've stopped by 15 Degrees I was actually en route Trader Joe's for the free samples but I was derailed by promises of wine and cheese!

The owners of 15 Degrees C are two women, both named Allison (but one goes by Ali), who have been involved with wine for about ten years. A main focus at 15 Degrees C (http://www.15degreescwines.com/) is international wines, which makes good sense...it's not exactly the most difficult thing to come across local wines in this area! Between the local restaurants' wine lists, the wineries themselves, the numerous local wine shops, and bars there is no shortage of opportunities to try and buy Central Coast wines.

As you can see, I really love the idea of this place. It's run by two young wine industry women, there's a good selection, and the Allisons have the knowledge and experience to recommend wines you'll probably like. There are interesting tasting events every few weeks as well as some wine club options. They also have some bar stools set up along one side of the store with all sorts of wines-by-the-glass available. You can also order cheese plates that come with bread from Hush Harbor (a great bakery/sandwich in Atascadero...if you haven't been the time has come to check it out!) plus olives, figs, that sort of thing. You can also order different gourmet salts and artisan olive oils. 15 Degrees C also has a nice selection of micro-brews and some sakes that you can drink at the bar if you're not in the mood to try some wines. Clearly, the Allisons have set up a well-thought out business with products that will appeal to almost anyone that goes in. There are even a few wine-accesory items in the front of the store if you want to browse a little.

All that said, I don't like this place. I've been in a number of times and my visits have just never left me loving the experience. The first time I went in I just wanted to check out the store so I was browsing for 10 or 15 minutes and I was completely ignored. A "hello" would have done the trick but there was no interaction other than a response to a question I asked after I'd been in there for 10 minutes. At that point the store had just opened so I thought, "this place is new, they're working on other stuff...no need to write it off just yet. Hopefully they'll catch on to the whole 'customer service' thing".

I've returned a number of times since then to try the different drinks they have available. The wines by the glass are delicious and varied but quite expensive. Now being expensive is not the end of the world...many of the wines are high-quality, limited production imports, which is lovely to have access to in this area. But the thing that really got me was the wines that were available that weren't on the menu. You can pay for either a taste or a glass of wine and at one point I tried a taste of one of the non-listed options and I was unknowingly drinking a $9 2 oz. pour. Am I taking crazy pills?...or is that a lot for a single taste of a wine? Maybe my miser ways are being exposed but two or three tastes later I was out $25 bucks. And with the addition of a plate of three cheeses the bill is up to about $40. And then it's time to eat dinner where I'll spend another bunch of dollars...

Other than the mediocre customer service I can't decide what it is about this place that puts me off but it never comes to mind as a place I'd like to go tonight. The customer service is reasonable if you're sitting at the bar but the Allisons pay much more attention to groups than to individuals. And in my experience, unless you ask, you will not get much help if you're browsing the store. Again, the products they carry are high-quality and interesting but there's just something missing.
**All photos are taken from the 15 Degrees C website: www.15degreescwines.com**