When Anita and Paul Zuniga hatched the idea for Fossil Wine Bar, located in downtown Atascadero, they envisioned serving a diverse list of great small-production Central Coast wines, plus beer, mead, cider, and sake.
Now, after their first year in business, they’ve carved a niche as a comfortable gathering place, an educational place, and a place for fun beverage discoveries.
We chatted with Paul about their unique approach to the wine business and how Fossil Wine Bar came to be. Here’s what he had to say.
What’s behind the name Fossil Wine Bar?
There’s a long answer to this question, but the simple answer has two parts.
One, I’m interested in dinosaurs and paleontology.
And two, it’s a reference to one of the main soil types found throughout the Central Coast: chalky, calcareous limestone, which is made of fossilized marine organisms.
Can you tell us about your unique approach to the wine business and why you created Fossil Wine Bar?
I think our approach of sharing information and a bit of education is a key to what makes Fossil Wine Bar special.
I love wine and other craft alcoholic beverages, and I especially love finding small, boutique, garagiste producers, as well as uncommon varietals and styles.
One of my favorite things is introducing people to new tastes, styles, or products, and sharing information about it. People love to hear the background of the wine, the story of the producer or the area, for example.
It makes the whole experience more fun. And even if a person doesn’t end up liking the product, they’re glad they tried it.
How did you get into the wine industry?
When Anita and I were dating, she was super interested in wine. I gave her lots of wine books — like “The Wine Bible” and others — and I ended up reading them as well. I was hooked.
When we moved to Atascadero and I had the opportunity to make a career change, I dove into the wine industry. I fell in love with all aspects of the industry, and especially production and hospitality.
Later I passed the Level 1 Sommelier exam, which taught me even more about the world of wine as well as other alcoholic beverages.
Congrats on your first year in business! How has it compared to what you thought it would be? Anything unexpected?
It’s been a great year! We’ve gotten such a positive reception to the wines and other products we carry.
One surprise has been mead — wine made with honey. We didn’t expect it to be such a big hit, but it’s shockingly popular. In fact, it’s one of the most popular products we sell.
What excites you about starting your 2nd year in business? Anything special in the works?
We’re really excited about launching the Fossil Wine Bar Wine Club. The focus will be curating each shipment to include boutique and difficult-to-find varietals plus wines of other countries that are good and unusual. We’re planning to offer red, white, or mixed shipments of three bottles four times a year.
What’s one thing you want people to know about Fossil Wine Bar?
With our focus on showcasing wines from garagiste, boutique, and small-production wineries on the Central Coast, we want to be the place you can find wines you likely won’t find anywhere else.
Plus, with our wide selection of beer, cider, mead, and sake, all in a laid-back, comfortable atmosphere, we want to be your place to discover a new favorite beverage.