From Bike Rides to Grape Vines, The Cycling-Wine Connection

We sat down with the co-owners of Peloton Cellars, Bill and Trish Kesselring, to talk about their role in the Central Coast Classique bike ride, and how their cycling and viticulture worlds have collided. Central Coast Classique cyclists can look forward to these wines and more on their tour of the Central Coast, where the lifestyle and fellowship of cycling and viticulture aren’t nearly the odd couple they seem.

Peloton Cellars

Beginning with 2006, each Peloton vintage features a cycling-related quote on the back label. With cycling and wine so near to Bill and Trish Kesselring’s hearts, it felt serendipitous to support the Central Coast Classique, a local bike ride fundraiser benefiting non-profits the San Luis Obispo Law Enforcement Assistance Foundation and Creative Mediation at Wilshire Community Services.

Cycling and wine; what exactly do the two have in common? We found our answers in Avila Beach, a small coastal city in San Luis Obispo County, where being active is as much a priority as enjoying the Central Coast lifestyle. We sat down with the co-owners of Peloton Cellars, Bill and Trish Kesselring, to talk about their role in the Central Coast Classique bike ride, and how their cycling and viticulture worlds have collided.

From a young age, cycling was a part of winemaker Bill Kesselring’s life. “I started riding bikes when I was in 4th or 5th grade when I started doing bike tours up in Northern California; I did about 500 miles in 7 days.” Cycling has been a huge part of his life ever since, going on to race in high school and then again at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo from 1991 to 1996. He wasn’t alone in his passion, his brother and two best friends had also started riding. “We lived on a couple of acres and would ride our bikes back and forth.” Bill said with a huge grin, “We all just enjoyed bikes.”

After graduating from Cal Poly with a degree in Plant Physiology, Bill began working at a vineyard consulting company in Napa, and by default began making some wine with his best friend and fellow cyclist, Kjell. As he puts it, “we went from one barrel in the garage, up to five or six…and then started Peloton.” The four partners of Peloton Cellars just so happened to be the same friends and family growing up riding with him including his brother Tim Kesselring, and two close friends from childhood and college Jeff Brown and Kjell Akerstrom. “We are all cycling fanatics,” Bill shared, “And so we thought it would be fun to combine our two passions, bikes and wine.” And thus, Peloton Cellars was born, aptly named after the French word ‘peloton’ French word meaning “group”, but more specifically referring to the dynamic, main pack of riders in a cycling race. Peloton Cellars was a labor of love to remind them of the three things they cherished the most: wine, fellowship, and the spirit of cycling, and paying homage to their two favorite pastimes.

Trish, Bill’s wife, whom he serendipitously met through one of the partners, is Peloton Cellars General Manager. She mentioned how cycling lead to their meeting, “I got into cycling via marriage, but grew up a swimmer. And one of our partners, Jeff, was also a swimmer and we swam together in college at Fresno State. And he’s the reason I met Bill, through swimming and cycling.” The two married in 2000 and have been on the Central Coast ever since with their two sons Jaston and Toby, who also have fallen in love with cycling. “We both love being healthy. And the healthier we are, (the more we can) keep up with our kids. Cycling is upbeat, it keeps us moving forward, happy and healthy. And that trickles out, and filters into all aspects of our life. It’s important to us and it’s fun. And both of us grew up doing it. It’s how we are wired. It’s kind of what defines us”

With cycling and wine so near to their hearts, it felt serendipitous to support the Central Coast Classique, a local bike ride fundraiser benefiting non-profits the San Luis Obispo Law Enforcement Assistance Foundation and Creative Mediation at Wilshire Community Services. Trish empathically shared, “I think that the ride’s heart is in the right place and I love to be able to give back to our community, especially for families of the police department.”

The Central Coast Classique hosts its ride every year in the late summer or early fall, this year landing on Saturday, September 30th. The ride features 30, 64 and 100 mile routes through coastal, vineyard and rural areas of San Luis Obispo County. Bill mentions that the Central Coast has some of the best rides, “I’ve ridden up and down the state and I think some of the prettiest roads are here.” The ride has worked together with several local Edna Valley and Avila Beach wineries to provide cyclists with an opportunity to wine taste after their ride, from the very vineyards they passed along their route. Each cyclist receives a wine tasting punch card that they can use to track their mileage along the route, and then save for free tastings at designated wineries. Trish felt like the collaboration was a perfect fit, “I love the involvement with the Central Coast Classique because it’s a very well run organization. Every year I am very impressed with how smooth the ride goes, and the feedback from the riders when they visit us in the tasting room. It’s the most well-supported ride. I like to support that, but then I also love that it brings cycling and wine together, which is who we are.”

Cyclists can look forward to tasting incredible wines from Peloton Cellars, as they produce French-style wines and have a little bit of everything. Trish gushed when talking about the wines, “We’ve got a beautiful Cabernet out of Paso Robles. We’ve got Zinfandel out of Paso. We’ve got Pinot Noirs out of three different regions: Santa Ynez Valley, Edna Valley, and Cambria. And a beautiful Albariño which is probably our most popular white wine right now. We also do a Pinot Grigio and a Chardonnay. And then we do various blends; those are our reserve wines, we do one a year, limited edition, 100 cases or less. Those are (Bill’s) passions for the season, the best fruit he has seen through that particular vintage growing on the vine. And he decides late in the season what that blend is going to look like. Sometimes it’s a Rhone-style and sometimes it’s a Bordeaux.” Central Coast Classique cyclists can look forward to these wines and more on their tour of the Central Coast, where the lifestyle and fellowship of cycling and viticulture aren’t nearly the odd couple they seem.

If you are interested in learning more the amazing collaboration between the Central Coast Classique and Peloton Cellars, visit www.centralcoastclassique.com. The Central Coast Classique benefits local San Luis Obispo non-profits Creative Mediation part of Wilshire Community Services and the San Luis Obispo Law Enforcement Assistance Foundation, both of which are not-for-profit 501(c)3 organizations. 

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